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MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK – WELCOME TO UGANDA’S LARGEST NATIONAL PARK

Find ALL The Much-Needed Information About Murchison National Falls Park In Uganda Such As:- Wildlife Uganda Safaris, Attractions, Activities, Murchison Falls Safari Lodges/Accommodation/Where To Stay, How To Book A Uganda Safari Permit, Uganda Safari Travel Tips/Advice, What To WearWhen To Go/Best Time To Go Visit Murchison Falls National Park For Safari.

murchison falls national park mapSpanning 3,840km2 (384,000 hectares), it comes as no surprise that Murchison Falls National Park is the largest wildlife savanna park out of all Uganda national parks. But that is not all this legendary Uganda wildlife safari park has to offer.

Four of the Big Five roam about and sip at the edge of the Nile River whose waters eventually burst through an 8-meter wide gorge before plunging 43 meters in a cloud of mist and thunderous roar. Welcome to Murchison Falls!

The park takes its name from these dramatic falls which in turn were christened by explorer Sir Samuel Baker. Baker named the falls Murchison Falls after the geologist Roderick Murchison, the president of the Royal Geographical Society in the 1860s.

Notable visitors to Murchison include British royals, Ernest Hemingway who survived a plane crash here, and President Theodore Roosevelt who slaughtered almost 5,000 animals on possibly the most expensive hunting safari of all time.  Winston Churchill also visited the park, which may have been what led him to declare Uganda the ‘Pearl of Africa.

Murchison Falls Park boasts 76 Uganda mammals – species and 451 Uganda birds – species that can be spotted on hikes, Nile River cruises, and game drives. A gentle cruise up the Nile will take you past pods of hippos, herds of grazing buffalo, and elephants, while storks and crocs jostle for space at the banks. You’ll pause a little distance from the base of the falls or the Devil’s Cauldron, its intimidating base.

On a game drive, you’ll encounter Elephants, Buffalos, Giraffe, and Antelopes. With a 4×4 safari vehicle, you have a decent chance of spotting lions, too, and perhaps a Leopard. Amongst the park’s more unusual species you will see on your Murchison Falls Uganda safari is hartebeests, with their long flat faces and the prehistoric-looking Shoebill.

LOCATION OF MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK | WHERE IS MURCHISON FALLS LOCATED?

Murchison Falls is located in Northwestern Uganda about a 311km (5 hours) drive from Kampala.

The park forms the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley where the massive Bunyoro escarpment meets the vast palm-dotted savannah of the extensive Acholi plain.

It is part of the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area which includes Bugungu Wildlife Reserve (782km2), Budongo Forest Reserve (825km2), and Karuma Wildlife Reserve (720km2).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s oldest protected area, first gazetted as Bunyoro-Gulu Game Reserve. During the first half of the 20th century, the reserve was a hunting playground for the wealthy. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt famously paid a visit to the region as part of the most lavish hunting safari of all time.

By the end of his year-long trip across East Africa, the Smithsonian-Roosevelt Africa Expedition had killed and collected 11,400 specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.

However, in the mid-century, hunting activities became more regulated and, as animal populations recovered, the then in 1952 Bunyoro-Gulu Game Reserve became Murchison Falls National Park.

In the 1960s, Murchison was one of the premier Africa safari parks, boasting up to 60,000 visitors annually. But, with the rise of Idi Amin’s despotic reign, the park’s wildlife populations were decimated through uncontrolled hunting and poaching.

Murchison Fall’s rhinos were killed off entirely, and the elephant population was reduced to less than 500 individuals. Carnivore and herbivore numbers suffered equally at the hands of soldiers and desperate civilians. Though Amin was ousted in 1979, it took another two decades for the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to stabilize the core tourism area of the park. Recovering tourist numbers supported the painstaking work of restoring the park to its former glory.

POPULAR UGANDA SAFARI PACKAGES TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK – MURCHISON FALLS SAFARI TOURS

HOW TO GET TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK IN UGANDA

You have 2 means of getting to Murchison Falls National Park:-

By Road:

From Kampala through Masindi -via Kichumbanyobo gate, Paraa is a 41/42hours drive, 2 hours on the tarmac, and 21/22 hours on murram roads. A 4WD is recommended.

By Air: At Pakuba about 19kms northwest of Paraa and Bugungu 13kms from Paraa, Charter services are available to all-weather aerodromes.

Distances in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda (km)
– Rabongo…………………………… 67
– Nyamusika…………………………… 14
– Top of falls(by road)………………… 34
– Top of falls (by water)……………… 17
– Kichumbanyobo gate…………………… 69
– Bugungu gate …………………………… 15
– Tangi gate …………………………… 25
– Bottom of falls ……………… ………. 14
– The Delta …………………… 28
– Bottom of falls to Albert Delta …………55
– Red chilli rest camp…………………… 0.6
– Paraa safari lodge ………………………02
– Sambiya river lodge ……………………25
– Nile safari camp ……………………… 22
From Paraa to Masindi via
– Kichumbanyobo gate …………………….86
– Bugungu gate …………………136
-rom Paraa to Kampala via
– Kichumbanyobo gate ……………………304
– Bugungu gate ……………………353

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK RULES/REGULATIONS

  • While in the park, arrive only between 6:30 am to 6:30 pm.
  • Drive only on designated roads while in the park.
  • Sounding your horn is prohibited within the park.
  • Walk on designated trails only.
  • A guide should accompany visitors on nature walks and game drives.
  • Camp only at designated campsites.
  • Do not cut plants, pick flowers or destroy any vegetation.
  • Any domestic animals(pets) are not allowed within the park.
  • Firearms or ammunition are not allowed in the park.
  • Do not litter the park, rather dump in the provided trash cans.
  • Light fires only at the fire rings at the campsites.
  • Retain all official receipts issued for park activities.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK | THINGS TO SEE ON YOUR MURCHISON FALLS UGANDA SAFARI

There is a variety of fascinating attractions to see on your Murchison Falls National Park safari.

As you will notice during your Uganda safari holidays, the park’s main attractions are the legendary Nile River, Murchison Falls, and a variety of wildlife.

Here Are The Top Things To See During Your Murchison Falls Uganda Safari:

 

  1. Animals In Murchison Falls National Park

With over 76 Uganda mammal species today, the restoration efforts have proved exceedingly successful for much of the Murchison Falls National Park wildlife.

On your Murchison Falls Uganda safari, you’re likely to find yourself overwhelmed by the variety of animals on display. You will view vast pods of Hippos and huge Nile crocodiles up to 19 feet long gliding silently through the waters, as well as other animals visiting the river to drink, including Elephants, Buffalos, and Waterbucks.

In the open savannah, Lions and Hyenas stalk herds of Uganda Kobs. Although Leopard sightings are not guaranteed, it is well worth scanning the crown of the huge sausage trees in the hopes of a spotted cat draped across a branch.

Murchison Falls is also home to the world’s largest population of Rothschild’s giraffe. Rare, ground-dwelling Patas monkeys pick their way through the grasslands.

Around 600-700 chimpanzees live in the Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests. Rhinos have yet to be reintroduced to the park, but you can track them on foot in the nearby Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.


List of Key Animals to See on Your Murchison Falls safari:

  • African elephantsAfrican Bush Elephants
  • Cape Buffalos
  • African Lions
  • Leopards
  • Rothschild’s giraffes
  • Hippopotamus
  • Nile crocodiles
  • Spotted hyenas
  • Uganda Kobs
  • Jackson’s hartebeests
  • Defassa waterbucks
  • Oribi
  • Common warthogs
  • Bushbucks
  • Bohor reedbucks
  • Grey duikers
  • Patas monkeys
  • Vervet monkeys
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Olive baboons
  • Black-and-white colobus monkeys
  • Chimpanzees
  1. Over 450 Species of Birds in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls also contains a spectacular profusion of birdlife with over 451 recorded bird species in Uganda/birds of Uganda that inhabit the park’s forests, swamps, riverine woodland, and palm-dotted savannah plains.

The species checklist is headed by the Mighty Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), the main motivating fact behind many bird watching tours in Uganda. The swampy Nile-Lake Albert delta is the best place to spot one.  Several other water-associated birds are also prolific along the Nile, while raptors make a strong showing on the checklist with 53 species recorded.

The world’s largest heron species, the goliath heron, also lives here, as does Uganda’s national bird, the grey crowned crane.

In the nearby Royal Mile in the Budongo Forest, White-thighed hornbills fill the air with their loud croaks while Nahan’s francolins, Cassin’s spinetails, blue-throated rollers, Ugandan woodland-warblers, and tiny chocolate-backed kingfishers are all present.

Here is a list of some exciting birds to spot in Murchison Falls National Park on your Uganda birding tours:

  • Murchison Falls National Park Shoe Bill StockShoebills
  • Pel’s Fishing Owl
  • Senegal Lapwings
  • Long-toed Lapwings
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Red-throated Bee-Eater
  • Western Banded Snake Eagle
  • Squacco and Goliath Herons
  • Black-headed Gonolek
  • Grey Crowned Crane
  • African Darter
  • Red-winged Grey Warbler
  • Wire-tailed Swallow
  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
  • Snowy-crowned Robin-chat
  • Whistling Cisticola
  • Silverbird
  • White-crested Helmet shrike
  • Double-toothed Barbet
  • White-thighed Hornbill
  • Great Blue Turaco
  • Heuglin’s francolin
  • Brown babbler
  • Piapiac
  • Standard-winged nightjar
  • Brown twin spots
  • Denham’s bustard
  1. The Nile River In Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is a fantastic place to witness the world’s longest river, the Nile, in its full and mighty glory.

Here the River Nile bisects the park for around 100km as it flows in a northwesterly then southwesterly direction between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert, running along with a series of rapids before crashing through a tiny cleft in the Rift Valley, creating a powerful surge of leaping water and one of most breathtaking Uganda safari attractions.

  1. The Powerful Murchison Falls

murchison-falls-national-park-ugandaMurchison Falls is one of the world’s most amazing and powerful waterfalls!

The falls are not very big or wide like some you may have seen before.

But think of the world’s longest river which is about 50 meters wide squeezing through an 8-meter rocky gap, forcing in it some 300 cubic meters of water per second before plunging 43 meters to what has been termed the “devil’s cauldron” below, forming a plume of spray marked by a thunderous roar and a permanent rainbow. It is a truly magical sight!

The falls have been described as the most spectacular thing to happen to the Nile along its entire 6,700 km length.

They are lined by verdant plant life, can be viewed from the top after a short hike or at a more leisurely pace in a boat from below.

A Little History About The Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls is first alluded to in the writings of John Hanning Speke, who upon visiting Karuma Falls to the east in 1862 was told that a few other waterfalls lay downriver, ‘mostly of minor importance’ but ‘ one within ear sound…

Two years later, partially to fulfill the promise they had made to Speke, Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker became the first Europeans to explore the stretch of the Nile River between Lake Albert and Karuma Falls.

As they were paddling about 30km east of the estuary, Samuel Baker wrote:

We could distinctly hear the roar of water and upon rounding the corner, a magnificent site burst upon us.

On either of the river were beautifully wooded cliffs rising abruptly to a height of about 300 feet; rocks were jutting out from the intensely green foliage; and rushing through a gap that cleft exactly before us, the river, contracted from a grand stream, was pent up in a passage of scarcely 50 yards in width; roaring furiously through the rock-bound pass, it plunged in one leap of about 120 feet (36m) perpendicular into the large abyss below.

The fall of water was snow-white, which has a superb effect as it contrasted with the dark cliffs that walled the water, while the graceful palms of the tropics and wild plantation perfected the beauty of the view.

This was the greatest waterfall of the Nile, and in honor of the distinguished president of the Royal Geographic Society, I named it the Murchison Falls, the most important object through the entire course of the river.

  1. Nile-Lake Albert Delta & Shoebills in Murchison Falls National Park

The Nile-Lake Albert delta is found on the southwestern side of Murchison Falls National Park.

It is an expanse of low land where the Nile River enters Lake Albert. The delta is recognized as a Ramsar site and it is a significant site for birding in Uganda.

It offers one of the best opportunities for on African safaris to see the fascinating and legendary Shoebill, as well as a range of other special water birds of Uganda.

The tall acacia stands that line the Albert Nile Game viewing track here host herds of grazers including buffaloes are often attended by insectivorous like Cattle egrets, Red-billed oxpeckers, and Yellow-bellied oxpeckers.

Other wildlife to see in the Nile-Lake Albert Delta area include:

  • Uganda kobs
  • Defassa waterbucks
  • Jackson’s hartebeests
  • Rothschild’s Giraffes
  • Oribi
  • Patas monkey
  • Side-stripe jackals
  • Lions
  1. Buligi Peninsula – The Prime Game Viewing Area of Murchison Falls Nation Park

Buligi is a triangle of grassland crossed by game viewing tracks, bounded by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert, and the Albert Nile flowing out of it.

This is among the best game viewing areas in Murchison Falls National Park.

It is characterized by scenic open savannah grassland studded with tall Borassus palms, woodland, and patches of whistling thorns, acacia, and riverine vegetation.

Buligi is home to a variety of birds including shoebills and harbors:

  • Herds of elephants and buffalo
  • Several antelopes
  • Giraffe
  • Lions
  • Leopards

 

  1. Paraa – The Tourism Hub Of Murchison Falls

Paraa means a ‘place of hippos’ in the ‘Luo’ local language. The place is found at the southern bank of the Nile River.

It is the main tourism hub of Murchison Falls, where most of the Murchison Falls safari activities including game drives, launch trips, and nature walks commence.

It is also where all park access roads converge as the northern and southern banks are linked by a passenger ferry.  The park headquarters lies also in Paraa, as does the park’s reception/ticket office.

Paraa is also the location of Paraa Safari Lodge, a luxury lodge in Murchison Falls Park with 60 rooms. Several other Uganda safari lodges/accommodations are also located nearby.

Among the Uganda wild animals found within the Paraa area are:

  • Lions, Buffaloes, Leopards & Elephants
  • Giraffes
  • Uganda Kobs
  • Jackson’s Hartebeest
  • Hippos
  • Nile Crocodiles
  • Oribi
  1. Kaniyo Pabidi Forest In Murchison Falls Park

 Murchison Falls Safari Black & White Colobus Monkey

Kaniyo Pabidi Forest is found in the south of Murchison Falls National Park. It covers an area of approximately 28km2 within the middle of Murchison Falls Kichumbanyobo gate. The forest is essentially a northeastern extension of Budongo Forest.

Its mahogany and ironwood trees harbours a variety of forest birds and primates. It is home to the Puvel’s Illadopsis, an endemic which is found in no other place throughout the whole of East Africa. Primates in Kaniyo Pabidi Forest include:

  • Chimpanzees
  • Olive baboons
  • Black and white colobus
  • Blue monkeys
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Vervet monkeys

AMAZING ATTRACTIONS NEAR MURCHISON FALLS

Before or after your Uganda safari in Murchison Falls National Park, there are several other amazing things you can see including:

  1. Budongo Forest

Budongo is a mahogany forest that is situated just south of Murchison Falls NP, near the main gateway town of Masindi.

It is an interesting site to tour on your Murchison falls Uganda safari tour. The forest shelters an astonishing 600-700 chimpanzees including some habituated communities for Uganda Chimpanzee trekking safaris. It also offers phenomenal bird watching in Uganda – over 360 Uganda bird species.

Indeed, such is its avian wealth that the track nicknamed the ‘Royal Mile, because it was once a favorite recreational site of Omukama (King) Kabalega of Bunyoro, is widely regarded to be the single most rewarding Uganda birding hot spot.

It is a superb site for birding in Uganda with a variety of sought-after key species including:

  • Birding In Uganda - Budongo Forest White-thighed hornbill
  • Nahan’s Partridge
  • Narina Trogon
  • African dwarf & Blue-breasted Kingfishers
  • Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetail
  • Black-eared ground thrush
  • Cassin’s hawk-eagle
  • Chestnut-capped flycatcher
  • Crowned eagle
  • Lemon-bellied Crombec

      2. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

If you are interested in seeing all the Big Five during your Murchison Falls Uganda wildlife safari, you must visit Ziwa Rhino sanctuary.

This 70km2 sanctuary is just off the main road between Kampala City and Murchison Falls National Park. Most Murchison Falls safari tours stop here en route. It’s a worthy pause, in every sense; Ziwa shelters Uganda’s only population of wild rhinos, which became extinct here in the wild in 1983 following extensive hunting and poaching.

Through careful breeding programs, the number of rhinos at Ziwa has grown to almost 33, and you’ll likely encounter babies alongside their extraordinarily large mothers, as well as battle-scarred adult males.

White rhinos which leaves in the sanctuary are not aggressive and have very poor eyesight, so you can track them on foot in the company of a wildlife ranger – if you’re lucky, you’ll get heart-poundingly close.

Your entry fee supports these endangered animals, plus the other species in the sanctuary, including birds, bushbucks, and monkeys.

    3. People & Culture Around Murchison Falls

Murchison falls National Park is surrounded by people of different tribes that include the Acholi, Banyoro, and the Alur.

The northeastern part of the park is dominated by the Acholi, the western is dominated by the Banyoro, and the Alur people are located major in the northwestern part of the park. The Uganda culture in this region is rich hence accounting for the amazing Uganda cultural tours in nearby communities.

Local women’s tourism cooperatives, tour guides, musicians, and dancers offer a wonderful insight into Acholi traditions and offer vital support to communities that are recovering from the years of war, in Uganda’s poorest region.

Some Uganda tours to Murchison Falls include a visit to a local community or women’s group, or there may be fireside performances while you relax back at camp in the evening.

TOP BEST THINGS TO DO IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK | SAFARI ACTIVITIES TO DO ON YOUR MURCHISON FALLS SAFARI IN UGANDA

Admiring the world’s most powerful waterfall tops most people’s list of things to do in Murchison Falls National Park.

However, there are many other Uganda safari activities/things to do in Uganda on safari (things to do) in Murchison Falls National Park you can do on your Uganda wildlife safaris including boat cruises along the Nile to spot huge elephant herds and game drives across the plains to track lions and buffalo.

To get you started, read on for the best things to do in Murchison Falls National Park:

  1. Classic Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park Game Drive

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park start in the early morning at around 6.30 am and early evening at around 4.00 pm. A typical game drive lasts around 3-4 hours and starts at Paraa.

You can also opt for the 2 hour night game drive to spot night creatures like Lions, Leopards, Spotted hyenas, and Serval cats on the prowl.

A 4X4 safari vehicle is advised; this can be a 4×4 safari van or an extended 4×4 land cruiser. The main area game drive is in the northern section of the park on the Buligi Peninsular. You also enjoy a game drive in the southern sector, famously known as the heart of Murchison.

Game Drives In The Northern Section

Game drives in Murchison are mainly done in the northern section of the park contains savannah, and Borassus palms, and is inhabited by almost 80% of the entire park’s animals.

The most popular game-viewing area here is a circuit of tracks within the Buligi area which is located between the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile. The tracks pass through open savannah grassland and woodland and acacia and riverine vegetation with excellent views towards the western rift valley, beyond Lake Albert into DR Congo.

4X4 Safari Vans For Hire in Uganda

Most of Murchison Falls National Park’s animals can be viewed and photographed here in the early morning and early evening hours. These include Lions, Leopards, and herds of Buffalo, Elephants, Warthogs, towering Giraffes, Bushbucks, Waterbucks, Uganda kobs, Hippos, Crocodiles, Reedbuck, Duikers, Oribi, the ground-dwelling Patas monkey, Olive baboon, and the unusual-looking Jackson’s hartebeest

Game Drive In The Southern Section

In the southern part of the park, game drives are done along the new Honeymoon Track where Uganda kobs, Jack’s hartebeests, waterbucks, Anubis baboons, and Oribi are plentiful and you might also find lions, elephants, buffaloes,  and some of the giraffes.

Please note that wildlife game viewing here is less prolific and more skittish than in the north, so you are recommended to conduct your game drive in the north of the river if ticking off the Big Five is your priority.

Day Game Drive Fees

  • USD 20 per person per day for foreign non-resident visitors
  • USD 20 per person per day for foreign resident visitors (with work permits)
  • UGX 20,000 for East African Citizens

Night Game Drive Fees

  • USD 40 per person per day for foreign non-resident visitors
  • USD 40 per person per day for foreign resident visitors (with work permits)
  • UGX 40,000 for East African Citizens
  1. Boat Cruise To The Bottom Of Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls Park - Nile Boat CruiseThe 3-hour boat cruise that starts at Paraa Jetty is surely the highlight of any Uganda trip to Murchison Falls National Park. It’s an absolute must-do!

The boat trip usually starts in the afternoon. It gently takes you along an archetypically African stretch of the Nile, fringed by Borassus palms, acacia woodland, and mahogany stands, before finally docking in a small bay a few hundred meters away from the crashing waterfall, where you can stop for some great photo opportunities.

You will view huge Nile crocodiles basking in the sun as they lie in wait for the unsuspecting Antelope that wanders to the river for a drink. You see many hippos, elephants, buffaloes, and waterbucks.

You will also see l00s of birds, including brightly-colored Bee-eaters, Spoonbills, Herons, Kingfishers, Fish eagles, and – if you’re lucky – you can even see the prehistoric-looking Shoebill, which is a cross between the dodo and a dinosaur!

Boat Cruise To The Bottom Of The Falls Fees

  • USD 30 per person per day for foreign non-resident visitors
  • USD 30 per person per day for foreign resident visitors (with work permits)
  • UGX 30,000 for East African Citizens
  1. A Boat Ride To The Delta Area Of The Nile River

9 days Uganda birding safari

A boat ride to the delta area of the Nile River also starts from Paraa Jetty and the boat slowly sails on the gently flowing Nile waters, after losing its energy from the fall’s plunge pool.

This 20-kilometer cruise downriver to the Lake Albert Delta is favored by those on Uganda birding tours.

It offers one of the best opportunities anywhere in Africa to see the mighty shoebill, along with other special species like Pel’s Fishing Owl, Long-toed Lapwing, and Saddle-billed Stork, Red-throated Bee-Eater, Goliath Heron, African Darter, and others.

You also see many Hippos in the water, as well as Elephants and Crocodiles on the water’s edge.

Scheduled delta area cruises with a “breakfast on board” option are offered in the mornings departing from the jetty at Paraa on the South Bank at 07.00 am.  Your trip can also be tailor-made with a private boat and timings to suit.

Wild Frontier runs a daily cruise in a shaded 15-seater boat that leaves Paraa at 07.00 am.

The return cruise takes between 4-5 hours at a cost of around US$55 per adult, subject to minimum numbers on board.

  1. Hike To The Top Of Murchison Falls

top-of-murchison-falls uganda safariMurchison Falls is an impressive sight from the boat, but a hike to the top of the world’s most phenomenal waterfalls is an opportunity for you to see a lot of nature’s secrets during your Uganda safari. This 45 minutes hike is highly recommended.

En route, you will see the second set of waterfalls – Uhuru Falls.

The experience at the top of the fall is staggering. Here the Nile, the longest river in the world, is forced through a narrow gap in the rock (only 8 meters wide), before ferociously plunging down 43 meters.

You can feel the force of the water beneath the rocks underfoot. You’ll need to shout to make your voice heard above the tons of water thundering beneath you!

Top Of The Falls Hike Fees

  • USD 15 per person per day for foreign non-resident visitors
  • USD 10 per person per day for foreign resident visitors (with work permits)
  • UGX 10,000 for East African Citizens
  1. Birding In Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls National Park with 450 bird species was named No. 9 best birding spot in Africa by the Africa Bird Guide. Bird watching can be done while on a game drive, launch trips and nature walks.

birding uganda safari

Because of the varied habitats, you have opportunities of watching forest birds, Savannah, water, and a few Albertine rift endemics.

The riverine thickets hold white-crested turaco, double-toothed barbet, red-throated bee-eater, Heuglin’s francolin, brown babbler, Silverbird, Buff-bellied Warbler, black-headed batis, and bare-breasted Firefinch. Pavel’s Illadopsis can also be found near the chimp researchers’ camp.

There is plenty of open palm savannah, which is an excellent haunt for Abyssinian ground-hornbill, Senegal Lapwing, Shelley’s rufous sparrow, and the strange-looking Piapiac.

The Nile delta is of course home to the near-mythical shoebill stork. Night drives can produce a plethora of species such as pennant-winged and standard-winged nightjar and greyish eagle-owl.

Murchison Falls National Park Fees

  • USD 30 per person per day for foreign non-resident visitors
  • USD 30 per person per day for foreign resident visitors (with work permits)
  • UGX 10,000 for East African Citizens
  1. Spot Fishing in Murchison Falls National Park

In the waters of the Nile, the Nile Perch are monsters! They weigh in at over 2 meters long and 200 Kg!  The river also has the potential for catching a variety of Catfish types and Tigerfish.

fishing Murchison Falls National Park

The record largest Nile Perch in Murchison was 114kg, caught by Kevin Nicholson in 2013, just eclipsing Tim Smith’s 113kg catch in 2009, but far heavier than the previous official record of 73kg, set by C D Mardach in 1959.

World-famous anglers who have been on the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park looking for that big one include Zeb Hogan of the Monster Fish – National Geographic, Jeremy Wade – River Monsters presenter, and The late John Dennis Wilson MBE (RIP) (1943 – 13 November 2018) a former UK TV presenter.

 

The best sport fishing spot in Murchison is directly below the falls, either from the bank or from a boat; river guides know precisely where the best rocky outcrops and favorable pools and eddies further downstream are.

Sport Fishing Fees

  • USD 50 per person per day
  1. Hot Air Balloon Safaris in Murchison Falls Park

It is also possible to view Murchison Falls National Park and its wildlife from a hot air balloon.

Hot Air Balloon safaris in Murchison Falls National ParkThis Uganda safari experience of silently gliding through the sky and watching the landscape racing below is exciting and evocative.

Though perhaps a bit of a stretch, it is easy to imagine what a bird of prey might see as they glide through the air. Dream Balloons offers 45-60 minutes aerial safaris that depart at sunrise (followed by a bush breakfast) or sunset.

It is a great experience for those on a honeymoon or adrenaline junkies.

Hot Air Balloon Safari Fees

  • Hot Air Balloon Safari including bush breakfast (Full Package) – USD 380
  • Hot Air Balloon Safari including bush breakfast (Economy Package) – USD 300

Citizen Package

  • East African Citizen Pack – USD 250

Private Trips

  • Sole usage of the balloon (wedding proposals, photoshoots sessions, etc.) – USD 2000

AMAZING UGANDA SAFARI ACTIVITIES TO DO NEAR MURCHISON FALLS

There is also a variety of other exciting Uganda safari activities you can do before or after your Murchison Falls safari, these include:

  1. Tracking Rhinos On-Foot In Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Rhino Tracking AT Ziwa Rhino SantuaryThe 2-hour Rhino Tracking adventure in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is an incredible way to get up close to the 33 Southern White Rhinos that are currently live here.

Ziwa Sanctuary is about 70km2 and the Rhinos have 24-hour armed protection from poachers.

Tracking is done on foot with an expert local guide. The experience of seeing a rhino on foot a few meters away from you is an experience you will never forget.

The sanctuary is also home to at least 40 mammal and reptilian species including monkeys, antelopes, and numerous bird species including Giant Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Great Blue, and Ross’s Turaco.

  • Ziwa Sanctuary Entrance Fees – USD 20 per person
  • Rhino Tracking Entrees Fees – USD 30 per person
  1. Chimpanzees Trekking In Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda`s Budongo Forest Reserve is another major highlight for a Murchison Falls safari in Uganda. The adjacent Budongo Forest is home to 600-700 chimps. Some of the families have been researched and habituated for the past 30 years.

2 days Chimpanzee Trekking Safari in Uganda to Budongo Forest uganda tour

2 days Chimpanzee Trekking Safari in Uganda to Budongo Forest

Field Assistants from the Budongo Conservation Field Station can recognize individual chimpanzees on sight, which only adds to what is already a profound and humbling experience.

Under certain circumstances, you may also be allowed to participate in a Uganda chimpanzee habituation experience – a rare opportunity in the world of large primate tourism. While typical chimp treks only allow for an hour spent with the animals, the habituation experience typically entails an entire day spent in the company of chimpanzees.

For lucky tourists, this means accompanying our closest cousins from the time they rise until they make their nests for the evening. The experience is made even more memorable by the giant mahoganies, figs, and ironwoods of the magical forest scenery.

Budongo Forest Chimp Trekking Permit Cost:

  • USD 100 a full day habituation experience per person (maximum two 2 people)
  • USD 40 per person for the 3-hour primate walk (maximum 6 participants)
  1. Birding In Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda.

Undertaking a Uganda birdwatching safari tour in the forest is home to over 360 Uganda bird species including many West and Central African species.

Two species, the Yellow-footed flycatcher and the Illadopsis puveli have not been seen anywhere else in East Africa.

The Royal Mile – the best place for bird viewing in Budongo was named for its popularity with Omukama Kabalega who frequently visited it for recreation and traditional rites. It is a wide forest avenue with an astounding density of bird species, located next to the Nyabyeya Forestry College.

Foot travel is possible because of the flat terrain, making it an ideal place for bird watching, led by experienced guides that are familiar with the sights and sounds of the forests.

  1. Community And Cultural Tours

Lukume dance - Uganda Cultural safariBefore or after your Uganda wildlife tours in Murchison Falls National Park, you can explore the nearby community for amazing Uganda cultural tours during which you will learn about the culture of the local people.

You can visit the Mubako community which is located beside the park’s savannah. There are few economic opportunities in this region, and the climate makes farming hard.

So, the revenue generated through tourism by the sale of wooden sculptures and hand-woven items, cultural songs, and dance performances helps improve their livelihood.

UGANDA SAFARI ACCOMMODATION IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK/ SAFARI LODGES IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison Falls offers a variety of Uganda safari lodges/accommodations options.

There is numerous basic/budget yet pleasant camping sites and lodges for the more budget-restricted travelers. There are a handful of Uganda safari lodges that offer midrange and exclusive upmarket/luxury accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park.

Here are the budget, midrange, and luxury accommodation options in Murchison Falls National Park:

Luxury Safari Lodges In Murchison Falls National Park

  1. Paraa Safari Lodge

Paara Lodge Murchison Falls ParkParaa Safari Lodge is set in landscaped gardens, elevated high above Murchison Falls on the north side of the Nile. The lodge has 56 comfortable rooms; 2 suites, and the Queen’s Cottage with magnificent river views.

It also features a large swimming pool, pool bar, and gift shop.

Paraa Safari Lodge also offers delicious meals that are served buffet-style in the large dining room. Barbecues and traditional dancers are a special treat on selected nights.

  1. Baker’s Lodge

Bakers Lodge In Murchison Falls National ParkBaker’s Lodge is named after Samuel and Florence Baker, husband-and-wife explorers. The Bakers arrived in Murchison in 1863 and spent much of that year and the next year checking out this spectacular region.

The lodge has a lovely location on the River Nile’s south bank. It is a high-quality property with one of the finest locations in Murchison Falls Park. There are just 8 sumptuous suites, all with lovely views of the river.

It also features a comfy lounge, restaurant, bar, fire-pit, swimming pool, conference facilities

  1. Nile Safari Lodge

Nile Safari Lodge In Murchison Falls ParkSet amongst the rich papyrus forest on the southern banks of the Nile, Nile Safari Lodge is close enough to see the elephants playing in the water and listen to the hippos grunting in the night.

You can enjoy drinks from the bar or relax on the large wooden deck that provides beautiful views of the river and surrounding bush.

You can also find respite from the heat of the day in the swimming pool and eventually end your day around an open fire, gazing at Africa’s starlit night sky.

Nile Safari Lodge has 5 wooden chalets and 5 luxury tents overlooking the mighty Nile River. They are a small and personal authentic camp with an open-sided lounge, dining areas, bar, wide terraces, wooden decks, and swimming pool

  1. Chobe Safari Lodge

Chobe Lodge In Murchison Falls ParkChobe Safari Lodge is situated in an area of Murchison Falls National Park that is ideal for sport fishing.  The lodge features 36 elegant guest rooms, 21 luxury tents, 4 suites, and a Presidential Cottage.

The River Nile is the main focus from an architect’s perspective, and so all the rooms and luxury tents have balconies and terraces facing the magnificent sweeping views.

Midrange Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park/Midrange Lodges In Murchison Falls Park

  1. Murchison River Lodge

Murchison River Lodge Murchison River Lodge is situated on the south bank of the River Nile, with amazing views over Murchison Falls National Park. There is accommodation to suit most types of travelers, and children of all ages are welcome.

The lodge is located 20 kilometers downstream from Murchison Falls, a beautiful setting. Guest accommodation comes in four categories – Thatched Cottage, Thatched Safari Tent, Comfortable Camping, and Campsite, all dotted around the bush.

  1. Pakuba Safari Lodge

Pakuba Game Lodge In Murchison Falls National ParkThis lodge is on the North West of Uganda on the Eastern bank of the Albert Nile inside the Murchison falls, National Park.

The lodge has 46 en-suite rooms with private bathrooms. Out of the 46 rooms, 27 are twin sharing, 12 double rooms, and 7 inter-connecting rooms suitable for those visitors that come as a family.

Pakuba Safari Lodge also offers rooms for special social, corporate, and business events for example weddings, birthday parties, getaways, and conference facilities.

  1. Fort Murchison Safari Lodge

Fort Murchison LodgeFort Murchison Safari Lodge offers a variety of comfortable accommodations to suit budgets from the mid to lower market. It is situated just outside the northern park boundaries.

It is set in beautiful surroundings and looks out on the majestic Albert Nile. It consists of 12 en-suite units comprising of a spacious bedroom with comfortable beds, bathrooms with countersunk basins, and showers with plenty of hot water from solar heaters.

  1. Parkside Safari Lodge

Park Side Safari Lodge is located 2km away from the Tangi gate of Murchison Falls National Park.

The lodge is situated on the shores of the Albert Nile, favorable for walks and canoe rides. The lodge offers single, double, and twin rooms as well as family cottages.

Budget Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park/Budget Lodges In Murchison Falls National Park

  1. Hornbill Bush Lodge

Hornbill Bush Lodge is located about a 5 min drive from Murchison Falls National Park Tangi Gate. The lodge features large cottages with a unique balance of style and traditional architectural touch, each with a private and cozy veranda.

It offers single, twin, and double beds in cottages and a triple bed option can be arranged. Beds are comfortable with mosquito nets to keep you safe from bites while you sleep.

All cottages have ensuite toilets and warm showers supplied by solar water heaters. There is solar power for electricity and you can charge your camera and phones in the room.

  1. Red Chilli Rest Camp

Red Chili Rest Camp Murchison Falls National ParkRed Chilli is situated in the heart of the park at Paraa. The camp is just 500m from the ferry, where all vehicles cross for Nile Delta game drives and from where boats depart for Falls & Delta trips.

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the camp for game viewing though – hippo and warthog are regular visitors to the camp too!

It offers furnished safari tents and bandas with public or private bathrooms, as well as the only camping facilities with modern showers, toilets, a cooking area, and security lighting.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

  1. How Did Murchison Falls Get Its Name?

Murchison Falls National Park takes its name from the dramatic falls which in turn were christened by explorer Sir Samuel Baker. Baker named the falls Murchison Falls after the geologist Roderick Murchison, the president of the Royal Geographical Society in the 1860s.

  1. How Big Is Murchison Falls National Park

This largest Uganda safari park covers an area of about 3,840 square kilometers. Together with the adjacent 750km² (289 miles²) Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720km² (280 miles²) Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area.

  1. Where Is Murchison Falls National Park?

Murchison Falls National Park is located in north-western Uganda at the northern end of the Albertine rift valley floor. From Kampala, it takes approximately 4-6 hours (311km).

  1. What Is Murchison Falls National Park Famous For?

Murchison Falls National Park is popularly known for having the world’s most powerful waterfall where the longest river in the world (Nile) squeezes through a 7-meter gap and then drops down 43 meters.

It emits large volumes of water about 300 cubic meters per second or 11,000 ft³/s at a very powerful pressure that cause the surrounding to tremble.

  1. When Was Murchison Falls Gazetted?

Murchison Falls is the oldest National Park in Uganda. The history of the park goes back to 1907 when the inhabitants of an area of about 13,000 km² were evacuated due to sleeping sickness spread by tsetse flies.  

In 1910, the Bunyoro Game Reserve was created south of the River Nile. In 1928, the boundaries were extended north of the river into the modern-day Nwoya District.  In 1952, the British administration established the National Parks Act of Uganda. The area described above became Murchison Falls National Park.

  1. Are There Zebras In Murchison Falls National Park?

Currently, there are no zebras and cheetahs present in Murchison Falls Park, and we recommend you extend out to Kidepo National Park in northern Uganda as it has plenty of zebras and the occasional cheetahs.

  1. What Animals Are In Murchison?

Animals in Murchison Falls National Park include elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards, Rothschild’s giraffes, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, Defassa waterbucks, Uganda kobs, oribi, and Jackson’s hartebeests, grey duiker, and bushbucks, hyenas, Patas monkey, Olive baboons, Chimpanzees and more, as the checklist of mammals reaches 76 species.

  1. How Many Lions Are In Murchison Falls National Park?

The lion population in Murchison Falls National Park is incredibly estimated at a healthy 150 to 200 individuals split across 15 to 20 prides.

  1. How Many Days Do You Need In Murchison Falls?

You can have a 2 day Murchison Falls National Park safari. However, for many visitors a 3 days Murchison falls Wildlife tour is the most ideal aside, the park’s true gem and from which it derives its name is the great Murchison falls.

  1. How to Get To Murchison Falls National Park?

Murchison Falls National Park can easily be accessed easily by air and road. From Kampala, it takes approximately 4-6 hours (311 km) to drive to the park.

By road, Murchison is most commonly accessed from Kampala or Entebbe, a drive that takes approximately 4-6 hours (311 km) and is best broken by lunch at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

However, it is also now possible to drive to or from Kidepo National Park in a good seven hours, opening up Karamoja in particular and north-eastern Uganda in general to exploration. To the south, a seven-hour drive will take you to Fort Portal and Kibale Forest in eight hours.

By air, it is possible to fly to the park by chartered aircraft or the daily scheduled flight from Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala. The flight is just under one hour.

The most convenient airfield to arrive at is Pakuba because of its proximity to the park headquarters and the main accommodations. Alternatively, you can fly to Chobe or Bugungu.

  1. How Many Hours From Kampala To Murchison Falls?

 

The main entrance to Murchison Falls National Park is around a five to six-hour drive from Kampala in a private vehicle on decent roads.

  1. When To Visit Murchison Falls National Park?

Murchison Falls National Park can be visited at any time of the year. However, the dry seasons from June to August and December to March offer the best wildlife viewing, and the entire park will be accessible.

The Nile is also relatively low, making the dry season the best time to view the falls. This may sound counterintuitive, but spray due to high water levels can obscure the view entirely and force the sightseeing boats to stay further away.

The rainy seasons are best enjoyed by the more relaxed travelers, content on enjoying lower rates, a quieter park, green surroundings, and the best birding.

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