Locally known as the Kabalega National Park, Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda and is situated in the Northern western part of the country in districts of Masindi, Nwoya, Buliisa, Kiryandongo covering an area of 3840 square kilometers.
The park was named after the Murchison Falls, a beautiful water falls on the Nile River that cuts through the park creating a gorgeous flow of water down a narrow gorge. The main tourism attraction in Murchison falls National Park is the Murchison Falls themselves.
These unbelievable falls are formed as the river Nile is forced through a narrow gap in the rocks, creating a powerful waterfall that drops 43 meters into a cascade below.
Besides the falls, the park is a home for many wildlife species and features that attract big numbers of tourists. Murchison Park is one of the most visited tourism destinations and has played a big part in the growth of Uganda’s foreign economy.
The park was established in 1952 as Uganda’s largest national park but unfortunately before its establishment, the area was used for sport hunting and many animals and other wildlife had been depleted.
Later, the British Colonial Government got to know the importance of the area and declared and designated it as a game reserve in 1926 hence it was gazette as a national park in 1952. The park runs under the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
What to see in Murchison Falls National Park
The park is a spectacular tourism destination with a diverse range of attractions for the visitors to have an enjoyable and memorable trip. Many tourists come to Murchison Falls National Park mainly to see the Murchison falls.
Visitors hike to the top of the waterfalls for a panoramic view or even take boat trips to the base of the falls for an up-close experience. This waterfall created a permanent rainbow around it as it flows to the western part of the park into lake Albert. As the falls flow, a thunderous roar is caused which is the best for sights and seeing expedition.
Murchison Falls National Park is a home to a variety of animal species including; lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, buffalos, crocodiles, hippos and several species of antelopes. The animals are mostly seen by game driving throughout the park for a better experience.
The park harbors over 450 bird species which makes it a paradise for bird researchers and watchers. Some of the notable bird species are; rare shoebill stock, Goliath heron, African fish eagle, secretary bird and African jacana.
The Karuma water fall is a stress removing feature found in Murchison falls national park in the Chobe area in the north eastern region of the park and consists cascading natural rock-formations through which the waters force their way through hence making an interesting and breathtaking feature.
The Nile-lake Albert Delta is situated on the low land found in South Wester side of the park where the Victoria Nile enters Lake Albert. The Delta is an important bird watching site in the park and it features a magnificent scenic view filled with vegetation and river Nile as it splits into small tributaries and islands as it flows into lake Albert.
The Paraa is one of the top attractions in Murchison Falls National Park because its is where all routes used to access the park converge. Hippos are mostly found in Paraa naming the place Paraa which is a Luo word to mean “home of hippos”
Activities done in the Murchison Falls National Park
The park has a lot of activities done with in its premises due to the fact that it has a lot of attractions and the activities vary according to the attraction. Bird watching is a beautiful and stress relieving activity because the park harbors almost 450 different bird species making it a haven for the bird watchers and researchers.
Fishing in Murchison falls National Park is one of the popular activities of which visitors can catch a variety of fish including the Tiger Fish, Nile perch and the cat fish. The activity is mostly done in the Nile River which crosses the park and visitors have to purchase a fishing permit before they go fishing.
Game driving is another popular activity carried out in Murchison Falls National Park and it involves visitors going through the park to spot different wildlife species. A game drive can be done with the help of a car that you can rent from a trusted car rental agency like Uganda self drives whether with a driver or self-drive.
During game drives, the park guides share their knowledge about the park to the visitors and also help them to spot several wildlife species and their behavior and habitat. The activity is the best way of having a close view to the animals and other wildlife.
The visitors can go for cultural visits in the nearby communities to learn about their traditional practices like cultural dances and their ways of living.
Photography is a very common activity in the Murchison Falls National Park because most of the visitors are researchers and want to take note and record everything they see. These nature photographs are too expensive and hence everyone wanting to engage in the activity.
Boat cruising in Murchison Falls National Park usually starts from the Paraa taking visitors to an adventurous trip along the Nile River which flows through the park and the activity gives the tourists to see crocodiles, hippos and several bird species. Boat cruises are carried out by professional boat experts and each trip lasts for 2-3 hours. Boat cruising is always done in the morning and afternoon.
Hiking and Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park is boosted by the several hiking trails in the park which provide opportunities to the visitors to see the parks wildlife and stunning scenery. Rabongo Forest trail is one of the most hiking trails in the park and it takes visitors through a dense forest providing an opportunity to see a variety of primates such as the red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees and the black and white colobus monkeys. Kaniyo Pabidi Trail is another famous hiking trail that takes the visitor through other forest parts of the park offering a chance to see chimpanzees and baboons.
Best time visit the Murchison Falls National Park
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season which runs from December to February and June to September. The weather during this time is awesome, pleasant and has clear skies and lower humidity levels. During the dry season, roads through the park are dry making it easier for you to travel from one point to another and most of the animals are concentrated on water sources which makes it easier to spot different species.
During the wet season which runs from March to May and October to November, one can still have an adventurous trip through the Murchison Falls National Park because the vegetation is beautiful and the scenery is lush and green making the birdlife abundant.
A visit to Murchison Falls National Park remains memorable and adventurous regardless of the season and time of the year. Visitors will always experience the best moments of their lives and unforgettable stories to tell.
Murchison Falls National Park; Key highlighs you need to know
- Uganda’s largest and most visited national park
- Home to the world’s most powerful waterfalls- Murchison falls.
- Has abundant wildlife species making it the best place for game drives in Uganda
- It is situated in the North western part of Uganda.
- A boat cruise will give you an up close look at the falls.
How to get to Murchison Falls National Park
Obviously, there are only two ways of reaching the park namely;
From Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, the journey to Murchison Falls National Park is approximately 5-6 hours depending on the traffic, road conditions and speed used. One can either rent a vehicle for self-drive or board a bus Kampala to the park which is worth UGX40,000-60,000 equivalent to $10-16 for a one-way bus ticket. It is however better to check with the desired bus company for up-to-date information on the pricing and schedules.
One can use Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi Airfield which have several airlines that offer flights to Murchison Falls National Park such as Fly Uganda and Aerolink Uganda. Flights to Pakuba Airstrip from Entebbe usually take approximately 1 hour.
Accommodation in Murchison Falls National Park
The park has a variety of accommodation options that cater for different budget preferences like the luxury, midrange, budget lodges and camping sites. Accommodation options in the park include;
Nile Safari Lodge which is located on a private island on the Nile River and offers an executive and luxurious stay in the park. The lodge has a restaurant that serves both local and international cuisine and a swimming pool for the tourists to refresh after long journeys. The price varies depending on the time of the year, the type of the room and the people to stay. Prices of the lodge are subject to change so it is a great idea for the visitor to contact lodge and book for rooms in advance.
Paraa safari lodge is another luxurious lodge situated on the Nile River banks and offers a variety of comfortable rooms and suites with beautiful views of the river and the park. Paraa safari lodge has a restaurant which serves different meals, a bar and a swimming pool for refreshments.
Chope Safari Lodge is also located on the banks of the Nile River and offers a variety of rooms and suites with views of both the river and the park. It has a spa, a swimming pool and a restaurant.
Murchison River lodge is a mid-range lodge located on the southern bank of the Nile River and it offers comfortable rooms and safari tents with views of the river. The lodge has a restaurant that serves both local and international foods, a swimming pool and a bar.
Budongo Eco Lodge is an eco-friendly lodge located in the Budongo Forest Reserve which is part of Murchison Falls National Park and it offers eco cabins, comfortable room a restaurant and a bar.