Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is one of Uganda’s best safari parks for Game Viewing Safaris and Birding Tours. Together with Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls is an important destination for primate safaris most especially chimpanzee tracking safaris.

Murchison Falls has received many notable foreign visitors including noble statesmen and celebrities. In 1907, Winston Churchill hiked, boated and bicycled up the Nile corridor to the Falls. He was followed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 during a hunting safari that cost, by today’s prices, a phenomenal US$1.8m! In 1951, the Falls provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s famous movie, The African Queen which was filmed on location along the Murchison Nile and on Lake Albert. British royals have also visited Murchison, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959.

The least happy celebrity visitor was Ernest Hemingway in 1954 who literally dropped in. His intention was simply to overfly the waterfall but his plane clipped an old telegraph wire strung across the gorge and cartwheeled into the riverine forest. Hemingway and his wife were rescued and taken to Butiaba where their rescue plane crashed on takeoff.

The park is dominated by savanna, woodland, river/wetland and tropical forest and is located in the Northwestern part of Uganda about 305 km from Kampala hence approximately a 4 hours’ drive by road.

The park covers 3,893km2 and is Uganda’s largest protected area. Today it is part of the even larger Murchison Falls Protected Area (5,072km2) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves.

Wild Life in Murchison Falls National Park

The park is home for 76 mammal species and 450 bird species. Large mammals include lion, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, Rothschild’s giraffe, Cape buffalo, hartebeest, oribi, warthog,Uganda kob, Nile crocodile,chimpanzee and other primates. The park is home for the largest population of the Nile crocodile.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls is among Uganda’s best birding spots with over 451 bird species which include; Albertine rift endemic birds, water birds, and savannah birds. some of the birds in the park include the Gray crowned crane(Uganda’s National bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Nightjars, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Back-bellied Bustard,blue napped mouse birds, silver birds, weavers,Nocturnal birds like the nightjars. other birds you that can be seen on the boat are the shoebill,Goliath herons, black headed lapwings among others.

The Nile & Murchison Falls

The main attractions of this park are undoubtedly the unique Murchison Falls and the River Nile with its teeming hippo and serried ranks of crocodile on the sandbanks, coupled with large numbers of other species. coming down to drink and bathe.’ Today the highlight of a visit to Murchison is the launch trip upstream to view the Falls and riverside wildlife. The launch departs at 09:00am and 02:00pm daily. The round trip takes three hours. An additional boat trip heads downstream from Paraa to the papyrus delta at the river’s entrance into Lake Albert. This 4-5 hour return voyage offers a good chance of sighting the shoebill stork and a variety of other wildlife.

The Nile below Murchison Falls provides exciting challenges to anglers including the chance to land a massive Nile Perch (the record is 108kg). Fishing is restricted to designated sites and places are limited so prior booking is recommended. Some boats may be hired for fishing by prior booking. Do bring your own fishing equipment. The most dramatic view of the waterfall is the ‘Top of the where the sight and sound of the Nile crashing through, wide chasm make an unforgettable assault on the senses site -may be reached either by vehicle or a half hour c1imt leaving the Paraa launch.

Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi forest, 8km inside Kichumbar Gate, provide the opportunity to track chimpanzee and primates beneath Uganda’s largest remaining mahogany. Birding is excellent with the chance of sighting rarities as the yellow-footed flycatcher, Ituri batis, and white hornbill. Nature walks are also offered at Rabongo forest.

Buligi area
The park’s prime savanna game viewing area, this grassland wilderness is sandwiched between the Victoria Albert Niles with panoramic views towards the western Via the rift valley beyond Lake Albert in the D.R Congo. A drive from Paraa passing Delta Point takes 3-4 hours. Morning and late afternoon are the optimum times for game.