UGANDAUnsurpassed scenery
Uganda's lakes and rivers offer some of the most stunning scenery on Earth.

Murchison Falls National Park

The Tranquil Majesty of the Nile

Murchison Falls National Park at 5,072 square kilometers is one of Uganda’s largest and oldest protected areas laying at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley. The park is named after the breath-taking spectacular dramatic water falls on the Great River Nile.

The Park’s boundaries were gazetted in 1952. In 1954, the Board of Trustees for the Uganda National Parks made decisions on the lay out and the design of the park, opening up tracks to more remote corners of the park such as Rabongo Forest and the Chobe Sector. In the mid 70s, most of the conservation activities came to a halt prompting unabated poaching that rose to unprecedented proportions. The rich park also suffered mass poaching and the wildlife population was largely threatened during the 20 years of insurgency by the rebel armies which had turned the park as food basket and shooting target with the herds of animals as their subject. However, with the return of peace to the northern region, Wildlife populations have largely recovered.

Murchison Falls has received many notable foreign visitors including Winston Churchill in 1907, Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 on a hunting safari, in 1951, the falls provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s famous movie, The African Queen, British royals including the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959 the fauna diversity of the park, Ernest Hemingway and his wife in 1954.

Winston Churchill described the Nile at the Murchison Falls as being like Regent’s Park Zoo and Kew Gardens combined. It is a less than adequate way of describing the extraordinary experience of taking a launch trip up the Nile, fish eagles, kingfisher and bee eaters overhead, basking crocodiles and swimming hippos in the water, groups of baboons, water buffalo and elephant on the river banks, to the awesome falls themselves where the whole of Albert Nile spews majestically through an eight metre gap to a breathtaking forty metre drop.

Getting there:

Murchison Falls Conservation can be accessed through different routes by road to reach Paraa Park headquarters.

Kampala via Masindi town is the most commonly used route and Kichumbanyobo Gate which is about 300km long and takes an average of 4.5 hours drive. Paraa is 85km from Masindi town and this is the shortest and most convenient route with 175km of it being tarmac and 125km of fine murram. The 135km alternative and more scenic route is via Biso and Bulisa which enables the visitors to enter the park through the Bugungu Gate. Paraa can also be approached from the north, via Chobe Gate near Karuma Falls and Tangi Gate near Pakwach (25km to Paraa), and Wankwar Gate near Purongo.

By air the park can be reached by daily flights from Entebbe International Airport or chartered aircrafts from Kajjansi airfield to Pakuba airfield, 19km North West of Paraa and south at Bugungu, 13 km from the park headquarters.

A vehicle ferry crosses the Nile at Paraa operating hourly between 07.00 and 19.00 with the exception of 13.00.

See:

Elephant, warthog, pangolin, giraffe, aardvark, buffalo, lion, leopard, civet, hyena, Uganda kob bushbabies, chimpanzee, baboon crocodile, hippos, Nile perch, tilapia, tiger fish, bee eater, giant kingfisher, shoebill stork and glorious butterflies everywhere.

Winston Churchill described the Nile at the Murchison Falls as being like Regent’s Park Zoo and Kew Gardens combined. It is a less than adequate way of describing the extraordinary experience of taking a launch trip up the Nile, fish eagles, kingfisher and bee eaters overhead, basking crocodiles and swimming hippos in the water, groups of baboons, water buffalo and elephant on the river banks, to the awesome falls themselves where the whole of Albert Nile spews majestically through an eight metre gap to a breathtaking forty metre drop.

Activities:

  • Launch trip on the Nile: This activity is the most popular and longest running attraction and is one of the most memorable highlights of the park that provide visual and emotional enjoyment upstream to the base of the falls and viewing the riverside wildlife. Uganda Wildlife operates three boats namely the Shoe Bill, Kiboko and Mamba for the launch trips while private concessionaires operate others. The three-hour round launch trip departs at 09.00 and 14.00 daily. There is also an additional 4-5 hour Delta boat voyage trip that heads downstream from Paraa landing site to the papyrus delta at the river’s entrance into Lake Albert.
  • Game Drives: The game drives offer the best opportunity for seeing and photographing the wide range of animals in the park. The Park professional ranger guides lead the visitors to the three prime areas famed for a variety of game on the northern bank of the Nile. The Buligi circuit covers between 120-170km of safari drive while the Pakuba track and Pakwach road also make for an awesome game drive.
  • Bird watching: Over 650 bird species are recorded to existing in the conservation area classified in broader categories of Savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine endemic. Both the game drives and the launch trips offer an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife. The commonest of the large birds found in the plains include the marabou storks, ground hornbills, secretary birds, black-bellied bustards, Open-billed storks, Widow birds, Wheatears, Bishops and Weavers among others. Closer to the river where there are more thickets and woodlands, the commonest bird varieties include the Black bee- eater, Swallow tailed bee-eater, Red-throated bee- eater, Woodland Kingfisher, Francolins, Hornbills, Grey Heron, Hamerkop, Doves, Mousebirds, Shrikes, Flycatchers, Cuckoos, Coucals, Woodpeckers, Crombecs and Warblers. The area close to the river is also home to Ducks, Geese, Stilts and Plovers.
  • Forest walks: Forest walks are conducted either from the more accessible Kanyiyo Pabidi on the Paraa-Masindi road, Budongo forest and Rabongo forest in the far southeast of the park. The walks are of interest mostly to birdwatchers, though black- and white- colobus and red-tailed monkeys, chimps are likely to be seen and a number and variety of butterflies is impressive.
  • Fishing safari: The Nile below Murchison Falls provides exciting challenges to anglers including the chance to land a massive Nile Perch (the record is 108kg) and tiger fish. 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. Interested anglers are urged to bring their own fishing equipment.
  • Chimpanzee Tracking: It is estimated that there are 400-800 chimps in the forest reserves. Budongo Forest which is 300sq km and Pabid forest (40sq km) are an ideal stop over for adventurous guided walks led by trained guides with an insight in the forest ecology the main attraction being the habituated chimpanzee tracking. Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi forest, 8km inside Kichumbanyobo Gate, provide the opportunity to track chimpanzee beneath Uganda’s largest remaining mahogany trees. While on the chimpanzee tracking safari expect to view other primates including marauding Olive baboons and birding is excellent in the forest.

Trail Accommodation:

Murchison Falls National Park boasts a wide range of accommodation facilities from camping and traditional bandas. Luxury of Paraa Safari Lodge, Nile Safari Camp, Chobe Safari Lodge and Sambiya River Lodge while Budongo Eco lodge and Murchison River Lodge offers moderate accommodation. Murchison Safari Lodge, Nile Safari camp, Red Chilli Rest Camp, Paraa Rest camp, Global Village Guesthouse, Rabongo Forest next to Wariongo River and the two chimpanzee tracking sites at Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro offer budget and camping accommodation.

Suggested Itineraries

Murchison falls national park wildlife safari – 4 days

THE NILE AT MURCHISON FALLS – Uganda wildlife safari -5 days

Weather

Kampala
June 27, 2017, 11:50 am
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
22°C
current pressure: 1020 mb
humidity: 70%
wind speed: 2 m/s SSE
sunrise: 6:49 am
sunset: 6:57 pm
 

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