Murchison Falls National Park Uganda Wildlife Safari
Murchison Falls National Park Uganda is the largest park in Uganda covering an area of 3840km2 and is named after the Murchison falls where the mighty river Nile is forced through a narrow gorge of 8m into the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ creating an ever-present rainbow.
Samuel Baker the explorer considered the Murchison falls as “the most important object of the entire course of the river” named the waterfall in 1864.
The park is only 5 hours drive from Kampala the capital of Uganda and with all the attractions is a perfect safari destination for exciting Uganda safari tours. The habitats range from forest, savanna, riverine woodland, Borassus palms, and several acacia trees.
It lies in the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley giving it great views of the plains and forested areas and the Victoria Nile that pours into Lake Albert. The Albert Nile Corridor is Uganda’s lowest area at 612m at the Delta.
You have the opportunity to view the Murchison falls from both up as the Nile squeezes through the gorge and from below while on the boat safari on Victoria Nile.
The launch trip(boat cruise) on Victoria Nile gives you an opportunity to experience the Nile like the actors of the 1951 film “The African Queen.”
Wildlife Adventures in Murchison Falls National Park
- Animals Found in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda
Murchison Falls National Park has over 76 species of mammals that call this park their home including four of the big five. To have a complete big 5 list, you would need to pass by the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on the way to the park.
Animals are usually seen while on a boat cruise safari and during morning and evening game drives in the park. The most commonly seen animals are; African Bush Elephants, Giraffes, Cape Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Bushbucks, Jacksons Hartebeests, Oribi, waterbucks and warthogs to mention but a few.
The big cats of Leopards and Lions- the King of the Jungle have higher chances of being seen when you do an early morning game drive before the sun is too much which force then to hide.
Murchison Falls Park is also home to a number of primates including Baboons, Patas monkeys, Blue monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys and Black-and-white Colobus monkeys and Chimpanzees which are mostly found in the forested area of Kaniyo Pabidi part of Budongo forest.
- Birds in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda – Bird Watching Activity
Murchison falls national park Uganda has varied habitats for birds making bird watching a famous activity in this park which has over 450 species of birds.
The park is home to many migrant birds and those that are there all year round. The different bird habitats found this Murchison falls park provides a haven for the birds attracting a good number of birds.
The park has forested, swampy areas, riverine woodland, Savannah and acacia trees which all provide habitats for the birds. You will enjoy the waterbirds when you take a boat safari towards the delta or towards the Murchison Falls.
Some bird species found here include; the elusive Shoebill, Swamp flycatcher, papyrus Gonolek, Goliath Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Northern red bishop, Squacco heron, Red-throated Bee-eater and African-Quail Finch, etc.
Safaris and Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
- Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda
Uganda Wildlife Authority has demarcated tracks on the northern bank of the river Nile for game drives. On your safari in Murchison falls national park, you will take the game drives in the custom-made tour vehicles with an open roof so that you can easily spot the animals. Everyone should have access to a window for easy viewing.
The game drives takes anything from 4 hours to an entire day depending on your interests, amount of time in the park and the different activities you are interested in. Have your cameras and self ready to shoot photos of the different animals, birds, and landscape.
The animals to look out for include; Bushbucks, Waterbucks, hartebeest, Oribi, Uganda Kobs, giraffes, Patas monkeys, Warthogs, Elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards and Lions etc.
Boat Cruise on the Nile/Launch trips on the Nile
The boat safaris in Murchison Falls National Park are on the Victoria Nile towards the falls. The Nile boat safari is your ultimate experience of water, animals, birds, and great scenery.
Here you look out for animals coming to water and those resident/semi residents in water; Crocodiles, Hippos, monitor lizards. Watch out for herds of Buffalo, Elephants, and antelopes that come for water.
The opportunities for water birds are high as you take this trip. The launch trip happens twice a day with a morning trip starting at 9 am and afternoon at 2 pm; however, one can rent a boat and take a trip at their leisure.
Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest
Kaniyo Pabidi is a section of Budongo forest located in the boundaries of Murchison falls national park. You can track chimpanzees from Kaniyo Pabidi a section of Budongo forest, which is home to numerous other primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys and blue monkeys, lots of rare bird species and big game like Buffaloes, Elephants, and bush pigs with magnificent scenery.
The trek normally takes 3-4 hours depending on where the chimps nested the previous night, once located the people can stay in the presence of chimps for an hour watching them eat, play, rest and groom each other.
There is also an opportunity for a full day Chimp habituation experience, which has to be booked prior to your safari. This offers one time watching the chimps and following them along throughout the day for them to get used to humans.
- Sportfishing at the Victoria Nile
The waters after the falls on the Victoria Nile provide some of the most exciting challenges to anglers with the presence of Nile Perch. The largest Nile perch recorded is 108kg, what a catch! Fishing is permitted in designated sites and places which require prior booking. You are encouraged to bring their own equipment and secure a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park with 415 bird species was named No. 9 best birding spot in Africa by Africa Birding Tour Guide. Bird watching can be done while on game drive, launch trips and nature walks with a ranger guide.
Because of the varied habitats, you have opportunities of watching forest birds, Savannah, water and a few of Albertine rift endemics.
Birds in Murchison Falls National Park are easy to find because of its Savannah grassland. However, some woodlands and forested areas make it difficult but still possible to locate the birds.
The highlights will be the numerous birds by the waters and swamp areas like the; open-billed stork, Red-throated bee-eaters (nests in the cliff by the river), Pied, malachite and Giant Kingfishers, Grey, night, common Squacco, Striated and Goliath herons, Egyptian ducks, Spur-winged lapwings, Intermediate, Great and Little Egrets. While on game drive do not miss the Abyssinian ground hornbills, Black and Northern Red Bishop etc.
Most of the nature walks happen through the forests, Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest where you have opportunities of watching primates such as Chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkey, and numerous birdlife.
The Hike up the top of Murchison Falls is another exciting walk that everyone should take. Once on the boat trip from Paraa toward the ‘Devil’s cauldron’, stop a few meters from the bottom of the falls and take a hike through the vegetation to experience the top of the falls.
The hike is fulfilling as you watch the waters of the Nile be squeezed through a 7m gorge. This hike takes anything between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the interests of the people and their speed at hiking.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
The Boomu women’s Group right outside the park is a worthy visit for someone who wants to engage with the local community. Take the scenic village tour as you learn about the resident’s everyday lives, farming, visit the blacksmith, demonstration of basket weaving, cooking and visit a local school.
You can choose to stay overnight in this place or just visit for a few hours and continue to the park or when leaving for Kampala. The activities will depend on how much time you have to in the area.
Routes to Murchison Falls National Park
You can access the park by taking scheduled/chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport or drive from Kampala, which takes approximately 5 hours. The park has access gates from the south for people traveling from Kampala through Masindi or those traveling from Fort portal. It also has access gates in the north for people traveling from Kampala via Karuma or those traveling from Gulu or Kidepo valley national park.