Murchison Falls National Park, formerly known as Kabalega National Park is located in the northwestern part of Uganda. This park derives its name from the famous tremendous waterfalls known as Murchison falls. It bordering the magnificent Albertine rift valley and not only boasts as the largest national park in Uganda but the oldest as well. Murchison Falls National Park covers an area of 3,893 kilometers squared and is made of savannah grasslands, acacia woodlands, wetlands, and Riverine forests. This park was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and established as a park in 1952.
The park is part of the Murchison Conservation Area which covers Rubango forest, Budongo forest, and Kaniyo Pabidi forest areas. It’s one of the most beautiful places you can visit while on your safari to Uganda. You can also stop over at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola to trek Rhinos.
Murchison Falls National Park is surrounded by various tribes. One of the most interesting is the Mubako village that has several thatched African huts. The people always perform at several campsites around the park lodges and also sell some of their beautiful handmade crafts at a relatively cheaper price. The parks equally offer a stunning cultural experience.
The Murchison Falls (Devil’s Cauldron)
The Murchison falls, also known as Kabalega falls is a waterfall at the course of River Nile, the world’s longest river, The falls is known to be strongest amongst all waterfalls in the world. The Nile River flows all the way from its source in Lake Victoria in Jinja – Central Uganda to the Northern part of the country, cascading down through the rift valley escarpment at Murchison Falls National Park then flowing into Lake Albert. The water of the Nile force through narrow rocks of 7 meters wide gushing down to 45 meters down the valley. The views are so breathtaking and can be seen through the top of the falls or bottom of the falls visit.
Murchison Falls National Park is a birder’s paradise, boasting with 451 species of birds.; 23 of which are endemic to the Albertine region. You can spot several water birds, raptors and if you’re lucky you will see the elusive rare shoebill stork.
Some of the birds you will see in Murchison falls are; Senegal Thick-knee, shoebill, Abyssinian ground hornbill, African quail finch, African jacana, blue-headed coucal, Denham’s bustard, black-headed gonolek, goliath heron, black-billed barbet, black-headed lapwing, giant kingfisher, eastern grey plantain eater, silver bird, Swamp flycatcher, malachite kingfisher, speckle fronted weaver, squacco heron, Piapac and palm nut vulture to mention a few.
Murchison Falls National Park is home to 76 species of mammals. You have high chances of seeing four of the big five while at Murchison falls. Some of the animals to see at Murchison Falls National Park are Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos, Warthogs, Waterbucks, Reedbucks, Giraffes, Jackson’s Hartebeests, Hippopotamuses, Ugandan Kobs, Hyenas, Oribi and so much more.
Wildlife at Murchison Falls National Park can be visited all year round. However, the best time is in the dry season when animals concentrate on water catchment areas. The best time for birding at Murchison falls national park is from November to April when migratory birds are also available. Wildlife can also be viewed while on a hot air balloon. The early morning ride also gives great opportunities to see nocturnal animals like hyenas and hippos coming back from the hunt. This ride always ends with a yummy breakfast in the bush or a toast of champagne depending on the package paid for.
Launch Trips to the bottom of the falls
Launch cruises are one of the common activities done at Murchison Falls National Park. The best time for taking a launch cruise is in the afternoon when animals are streamlined at the river banks, quenching thirst with lots of water. There are also lots of birds chattering in the air. The lunchtime boat cruise takes tourists below the waterfalls. The sight he is amazing as seen in the photograph above. Approaching the roaring waterfalls is an experience of a lifetime. Hikes can also be taken to the top of the waterfalls after disembarking from the boat. The hike to the top takes about 45 minutes and provides stunning views of every step.
When in this park, anglers should never miss the chance of fishing at the worlds longest river. The common fish caught is the Nile perch and tigerfish. The heaviest catch recorded was 108kg. Fishing at Murchison falls is done in designated areas and you should always obtain a fishing permit through a Uganda tour operator or direct from Uganda Wildlife Authority before engaging in the activity. You are also advised to bring your own fishing gear.
Chimpanzee trekking at Murchison falls is carried out from Budongo forest. The forest is home to 24 species of mammals 9 of which are primates, 130 moth species, 465 tree species and 290 species of butterflies. Chimpanzee trekking is best done from October to January when the chimpanzees are extremely mobile, covering larger areas to look for fruits. Fruits are very scarce in such months.
Nature Guided Walks
Nature guided walks are carried out from the respective trails in Murchison Falls National Park. You move under the accompaniment of a ranger guide as you wander through Kaniyo Pabidi forests and Rubango forests. Whilst on nature walks, tourists have a high chance of spotting forests birds like Puvell’s llladopsis, chocolate backed Kingfisher, Ituri batis, yellow-footed flycatcher and white-thighed hornbill among the rest. Tourists can also take walks to the Nile Delta around the swamp to search for the Shoebill Stock.
Murchison Falls National Park is a great safari destination that you should definitely include in your tour package when you visit Uganda. It is apparently the best park for wildlife viewing and provides game viewing experiences you can hardly find in other parks. This park usually gets crowded in the peak season but is equally hard to explore in the wet season. Find some of the safari packages for Murchison Falls National Park below.
Park Entry Fees
Foreign non-residents are required to pay $40 for each day they spend in the park.
While at Murchison Falls National Park, tourists can choose various lodges to sleep in depending on their budget. The park has luxurious hotels, mid-range hotels, and camping options. Some of the lodges at Murchison Falls National Park are; Pakuba Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Paara Safari Lodge, Sambiya River Lodge, Shoebill Campsite, Twiga Safari Lodge, and Budongo Eco-Lodge among others.
Murchison Falls National Park can be visited all year round but some months are probably better than the rest. The best season for wildlife watching is during the dry season from June to September and December to February. The best season for birding is from November to April. Murchison Falls National Park can be reached within five hours by road and 1 and a half hours by air from Kampala; the capital of Uganda.