Murchison Falls National Park famously known for its strongest waterfalls is among Uganda’s oldest national parks having been established in 1952. The park stretches from Midwestern to Northern Uganda covering a land area of 3840 square kilometers making it Uganda’s largest national park.
Murchison Falls National Park is among the most visited savanna national parks in Uganda for its diverse wildlife. The park is bisected by the great River Nile on its journey up north with great iconic features especially the waterfalls and the Delta.
The great River Nile in Murchison Falls National Park breeds life and is a great support to the wildlife that depend on the waters of the River.
Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park
The park is locally known as Kabalega National Park having been named after a prominent King of Bunyoro Kingdom. King Kabalega ruled the Bunyoro Kingdom from 1870 to 1899 and is among the few Kings who refused colonialism.
The park is home to over 144 mammal species including 4 of the big five mammals. There are over 550 recorded bird species including rare species like the shoebill stork. Four of the big five include elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards. Murchison Falls National Park is also home to the highest population of Nile Crocodiles in Uganda.
The northern sector of the park has the highest wildlife concentration. In 2016 and 2017 about 37 giraffes were translocated from the north to the Southern sector of the park. There are some other wildlife species in the Southern sector including waterbucks, buffaloes, and Kobs among others. With time, tourism activities especially game drives will also increase in the southern sector.
Adjust to the park is Budongo forest home to chimpanzees and many other primate species. It is home to over 360 birds, 24 mammals, and other wildlife.
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are very rewarding as you get to see the various wildlife species. These start early in the morning to catch up with the early risers, especially the predators. The Northern sector of the park is where most game drives are done. Notable animals seen include elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, waterbucks, and Uganda Kob among others.
Evening game drives are equally rewarding and best complimented by the night game drives where you can chance the nocturnal wildlife.
The great River Nile is an iconic feature in the park and offers an opportunity for boat cruises. Boat cruises are done to the bottom of the Murchison Falls where the Nile plunges about 7 meters down a narrow gorge. A boat cruise to the bottom of the falls offers a great adventurous experience as you get to enjoy the magnificent views of the River banks and the waterfalls itself
There are a number of wildlife often spotted along River banks while on the boat cruise. These include elephants, Hippos, baboons, vervet monkeys as well as a number of birds.
The Nile Delta boat cruise is another adventurous boat experience along the River Nile in Murchison Falls NP. It’s also very rewarding in terms of wildlife and offers great birding opportunities especially those interested in the shoebill stork. At the Nile Delta, there are a number of Hippo pools and you also get to see Lake Albert.
Hot Balloon Safaris
Murchison Falls National Park is the only national park in Uganda with balloon safari experiences. This offers an opportunity to have an aerial view of the park’s ecosystem and wildlife.
Balloon safaris in Murchison are operated by Dream Balloons Ltd. It’s very recommended to book for this experience ahead of time especially in the peak tourist season to avoid missing out.
The best times for balloon safaris are early mornings and late evenings sometimes complemented by bush breakfast or sundowner.
This is done in the Budongo forest situated en route to the park. Budongo forest has large mahogany tree species over 80 meters tall. The forest supports a number of wildlife and is one of the best places in Uganda to see chimpanzees and other primates.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo will give you an opportunity to see a number of wildlife species. The trek starts with a briefing in the morning taking 2 to 4 hours depending on the movement of the chimpanzees.
Getting To Murchison Falls National Park
The park can be accessed by both road and air transport. By road, it takes a 5 hours drive from Kampala Uganda’s capital city. The drive is via Nakasongola at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for Rhino tracking where you meet the 5th of the big five. The sanctuary is the only place with Rhinos in Uganda and has other wildlife species as well.
You can alternatively fly to Pakuba airstrip in the northern sector of the park. There are daily scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi Airfield to the park. The flight works well for those with a short time in the country and would like to maximize the chances of wildlife viewing.
Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park
There are a number of accommodation options to choose from on a visit to Murchison Falls National Park. The Northern sector has options like Pakuba Safari Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, and Para Safari Lodge among others.
The southern sector of Murchison also has options like Sambiya River Lodge, Bakers’ Lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, and many others. In Budongo forest the only option available is Budongo Eco Lodge.
Best Time to Visit
Murchison Falls National Park can be visited at any time of the year. For the best experiences though you can visit in the dry season from June to Mid October and from December to Mid March