MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison Falls National Park also formerly known as Kabalega National Park is Uganda’s largest park and the only park in Northwestern side of the country. This is one of the most visited Uganda safari parks by holidaymakers on wildlife tour.  The surrounding districts around Murchison Falls National Park include Masindi, Kiryandongo, Nwoya and Buliisa.

Murchison Falls National Park is perched along the Albertine Rift valley, Northwestern Uganda. It is 305kms North of Kampala capital city. Originally, it was established as a wildlife reserve in 1926 and later, up-graded into a national park in 1952 which makes one of the oldest parks in Uganda.

Unlike other Uganda safari parks, Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the Victoria Nile creating the Southern and Northern sections. It takes its name from the powerful Murchison Falls which squeezes itself into a narrow gorge of about 8 meters before it drops off about 43m down.

Murchison Falls National Park expands up to 3840sq.kms of land area and makes up the bigger portion of the vast Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The Murchison Falls Conservation Area is inclusive of other reserves especially Karuma Wildlife Reserve, Bugungu Wildlife and Budongo Forest which is popular for chimpanzee trekking experiences. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is enjoyed by visitors in Kaniyo-Pabidi.

Wildlife

Murchison Falls National Park is remarkably a safari jewel in Uganda, the pearl of Africa. It boasts of its diverse wildlife which are sheltered in its distinct habitats. It is generally an outstanding big game safari destination worth visiting. The notable species of wildlife to enjoy great sight on game drive/game viewing in Murchison Falls include elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes and if you make a stop visit to see rhinos at Ziwa rhino sanctuary, you make a complete list of big five game.

Other than the big game, Murchison Falls is also blessed with many hippos, crocodiles, hartebeest, the Rothschild giraffes, Uganda Kobs, Oribis, warthogs, duikers among others. If you love primates, Murchison Falls National Park still has you sorted. Most of the park’s primates dwell in Kaniyo-Pabidi & Budongo forests and they include over 800 chimpanzees, patas monkeys, baboons, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.

Birds

Murchison Falls National Park is an outstanding birding safari destination in Uganda, boasting of its over 451 bird species. These include yellow footed flycatchers, shoebill stork, Abyssinian birds, Grey crowned crane, giant heron, nightjars, black headed lapwing, giant kingfishers, black bellied bustard, marabou stork, yellow fronted tinkerbird, yellow billed stork, silver bird, weaver birds, veracious dove. Other species include pied kingfishers, martial eagle, blue headed coucal, Denham’s bustard, red winged grey warblers, secretary birds, red throated bee-eaters, swamp flycatchers, Senegal thick knee, saddle billed stork.

Activities in Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP)

Game drives

Murchison Falls is known for its exciting game viewing experiences. Visitors immerse themselves in the savannas of this vast protected area expecting to see diversity. Its biodiversity to enjoy sight of include the Rothschild giraffes, lions, elephants, antelope families, leopards, birds, buffaloes, warthogs to mention but a few. There are amazing game/wildlife tracks to explore on Uganda safari in Murchison Falls and they include Buligi, Queen’s track and Albert track.

Launch/boat cruise

Another top highlight of Murchison Falls National Park safari is boat cruise. This takes you on 3 hours of enjoying aquatic creatures while you are in a boat. You will see the basking Nile crocodiles along the river banks, hippos submerged, water birds plus some buffaloes, and antelopes as they roam along the savanna grassland. What makes it mesmerizing is when you get to the bottom of Murchison Falls.

Hike to the top of the falls

There are 2 options to get to the top of Murchison Falls; you can drive up-to top of the falls or take a boat and start your hike. Once you get to the top, you will be amazed by its powerful roar as it tries to squeeze itself into 8m narrow rock before drop off 43m down.

Chimpanzee tracking

This is another incredible safari highlight when it comes to Uganda safaris to Murchison Falls National Park. Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison Falls is offered in Kaniyo-Pabidi which is a rain-forest within Budongo Forest Reserve. This rewards you with more than magical encounters with chimpanzees but also you will come across several of the interesting species of primates and birds.

Sport fishing

If you have always wanted to challenge yourself with heavy Nile perch then you have a thousand reasons to go sport fishing in Murchison Falls. Anglers should obtain their permits and this amazing water sport is done below Murchison Falls.

Birding

Murchison Falls is visited not only for the big game but also for bird watching. The park is endowed with diversity of forest birds, savanna birds, aquatic bird species and a lot more. The notable birds to expect to come across in this park include the shoebill storks, fish eagles, cormorants, herons, bee-eaters, black bellied bustard, marabou stork, yellow fronted tinkerbird, yellow billed stork, silver bird, weaver birds, veracious dove, martial eagle, blue headed coucal, Denham’s bustard to mention but a few.

Hot air balloon

Murchison Falls National Park is among the 2 parks in Uganda which offer hot air balloon experiences. This is a lifetime aerial wildlife experience you shouldn’t miss out on Uganda safari. You can have the best of sunrise hot air balloon tour with or without bush breakfast or sunset hot air balloon starting at 4pm.

Other activities to enjoy on Murchison Falls safari include cultural tours in Boomu Women’s Group and Mubako community for Cultural Campfire performances; nature/forest walks.

When to visit Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP)

Murchison Falls is open for visitor exploration all-year-round. But the best time to embark on Uganda safari to this park is around the dry months. These come in 2 phases; starting from June to late September and December to early March. These are preferable for wildlife viewing experiences and birding is ideal during the wet season which commences from late March to May and October to November.

Places to stay

The accommodation choices in and around Murchison Falls National Park Uganda range from budget to luxury. The notable ones depending on the category you need include Nile Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Bakers Lodge for luxury; Fort Murchison Safari Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, Murchison River Lodge for mid-range/moderate; Budongo Eco Lodge, Parkside Safari Lodge or Boomu Women’s Ground Bandas for budget.

Access to Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) Uganda

By road; if you plan to access the park from the southern gate; drive from Kampala to Masindi about 305kms, approximately 4-5 hours’ drive. From Masindi drive to Kichumbanyobo gate go through Kaniyo-Pabidi forest. The Northern gates start your trip from Kampala/Entebbe via Pakwach route, Karuma Falls bridge then to Chobe, Mubako, Tangi and Wankar gate approximately 260kms.

By air; About 3 airstrips serve Murchison Falls National Park and you take your flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield. The airstrips at Murchison Falls include Pakuba airfield to the North, Bugungu airfield to the south and Chobe airfield East of Paraa.

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