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A visit to Murchison Falls National Park

Situated at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley in the northwest Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park is an iconic safari destination in Uganda named after the dizzying waterfall at its heart – Murchison Falls.

Murchison Falls National Park covers just over 1,500 square miles including savannah and riverine woodland in the northern section, the swamp-like delta along the shores of Lake Albert and the dense forests to the south. Murchison Falls National Park along with other neighbouring protected areas that is Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and Karuma Wildlife Reserve form the larger Murchison Falls National Park.

About Murchison Falls

Once you lay your eyes on the powerful waterfall of Murchison, you will understand why the whole area of 1,500 square miles is named after the cascading fall, the water comes from the Victoria Nile River, but is not like the waterfalls you are probably used to. The water surges through a narrow gorge in the ground that stretches approximately 7 meters pushing onwards before it makes its way down a massive drop.

Murchison Falls is constantly compared to the waterfalls found in Canada’s Nahanni National Park, only Murchison Falls is more magnificent.

Activities To Do in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Game Viewing

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the top destinations for Uganda wildlife safaris, game drive is the easiest way to explore the park and is done in the comfort of your vehicle. The best time to catch the most active wildlife moments on a game drive is very early morning or late in the evening.

At that time, the lions are actively hunting for their early or late meals before they have their digestion slumber.

Murchison Falls National Park has several tracks running through the heart of the park which are a prime location for spotting lion prides preying on abundant Uganda kobs, giraffes and buffaloes.

If you are interested in spotting lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and many antelope species, the 7-kilometer Buligi tracking converging at Nyamsika Gorge around the Victoria Nile is the perfect track to drive on.

Other tracks to use during game viewing in Murchison Falls National Park include Albert and Victoria game drive tracks. Your UWA guide or ranger will take you to spots they identified as hot zones for animals particularly on your day of game viewing.

Hike to the Top of the Falls

From the bottom of the falls, embark on a 45-minute hike up the steep slopes around the falls. You will experience the mighty force of the falls from its belly. The hike is not for physically unfit people but very rewarding, you will be able to hear the sounds of the water forcing its way through the rocks and falling and take as many beautiful photos as possible.

Nature and forest walks

Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park happen through the forests of Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest where you have opportunities of watching the primates such as chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys and several bird species.

Guided nature and forest walks are great activity for visitors who wish to connect with nature on foot.

Launch Cruises

A Launch cruise is one of the most popular activity in Murchison Falls National Park lasting about 3 hours starting and ending at the bottom of Murchison Falls, this thrilling experience is done on the Victoria Nile towards the falls offering an ultimate experience of enjoying the calm water, animals, birds and great scenery.

Lookout for animals such as crocodile and hippos in the water, elephants, buffaloes and antelopes which come for water.

Launch cruises also offers opportunities for water birds such as the pre-historic shoe bill, king fishers among others. The launch trip happens twice a day with a morning trip starting at 9 am and afternoon at 2 pm, for tourists who prefer a more private experience, there are private boats you can rent.

Game Drives

Game viewing is the primate Uganda Safari activity to do in Murchison Falls National Park, the park comprises of demarcated tracks on the northern bank of River Nile for game drives.

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are done in custom – made tour vehicles with open roof for easy spotting of animals and unparalleled views of the scenic landscape, game drives takes about 4 hours to an entire day depending on your interests as tourists.

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are done as morning game drives, afternoon game drives and full day game drives. As you drive through the park on several tracks, lookout for animals like Uganda Kobs, Bushbucks, hartebeests, Oribi, Pattas monkeys, warthogs, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, lions and many bird species among others.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

For visitors interested in engaging with the local community, the Boomu Women’s Group is a must visit. Take a scenic village tour in the local community as you learn about their way of life, cultures and traditions, demonstration of basket weaving, preparing several local meals and visit to a local schools.

Best Time to Visit Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

The best months to visit Murchison Falls National Park on a Uganda Safari are from December to February since the weather is mild during this time of the year, the peak tourist time in Uganda and Murchison Falls National Park as well is from June to September, so be aware that the park will be crowded during these months.

There are two low seasons due to heavy rainfall, from March to May and October and November. For tourists interested in birding, the rainy season may be the best time to go. During this time of the year, the birds in the park are very active. It is the breeding season and migratory birds escaping harsh winters in Europe can also be sighted in the African savannah of Murchison Falls. Unfortunately, the low season is characterized by heavy rains that leave the park roads impassable in some sections.  Viewing animals becomes more difficult because they scatter in smaller groups because food is plentiful.

How To Get There

Most international visitors to Uganda arrive at Entebbe International Airport (EBB) located approximately one hour’s drive southwest of Kampala – the capital. From the airport, it is a 200-mile journey north to Murchison Falls National Park, there are two approaches from the south departing from Masindi town. The main route enters the park through Kichumbanyobo Gate and reaches Paraa after 53 miles (85 kilometers).

The longer, scenic route travels for roughly 84 miles via Bugungu Fate. If you are traveling from the north, there are four gates to choose from – Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi.

All access roads lead to Paraa, where a vehicle ferry provides access to the other half of the park and runs roughly every two hours.

If you prefer flying, there are three airfields in the park accessible by charter plane from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala. The closest to Paraa is Pakuba Airfield.

Where to Stay 

There are several accommodation options in Murchison Falls National Park ranging from luxury, midrange to budget situated inside and outside of the park. Top accommodation options in Murchison Falls National Park include GeoLodges Nile Safari Lodge, Murchison Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Sambiya River Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Budongo Eco Lodge or even the Murchison River Lodge.

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