Murchison falls national park is the largest and oldest national park in Uganda located in north-western Uganda covering an area of 3,840 square Kilometres. This park is known to be Uganda’s first national park, established in the year 1952. Murchison falls makes it stand out which is an amazing feature where the Nile River squeezes itself in a narrow gorge of 8m and plunges with a thunderous roar into the devil's cauldron to form a permanent rainbow.
The park is therefore divided into two sections by River Nile (Albert Nile) whereby the northern side is covered by savannah vegetation and southern sector is comprised of woodland and forest patches stretching to Budongo reserve which offers the best bird watching and chimpanzee tracking experiences. Northern part of the park offers great sightings of savannah wildlife ranging from lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, warthogs among others.
Additionally, the park is home to 76 species of mammals and over 451 bird species, other water species, reptiles and amphibians. All these have led to the presence of different activities and experiences that tourists can engage in during their visit to the park and these among others include;
A game drive experience is best done in an open-roof 4X4WD vehicle with the guidance of a park ranger guide. Game drives are normally two each day - the morning and evening, with each lasting for about 2 hours. There is always a break at the hippo pool where you get to enjoy bush breakfast of either fruits or tea while spotting schools of hippos or take incredibly fascinating pictures. During these game drives, you will encounter different wild animals and birds like lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos and antelopes like Oribis, Jackson hartebeests, bushbucks, and waterbucks among others.
A balloon safari is best done from a hot air balloon and only 8 passengers are allowed in each basket. This experience offers an aerial view of the park as the balloon flies over the sweeping savannahs of Murchison falls national park at a minimum height of 10,000ft and is controlled by an expert pilot.
There are two shifts in this park – one in early morning and late evening. This is a unique experience and only happens in Murchison falls national park in the whole of Uganda.
Like all savannah park activities, boat cruise also take 2 hours on the Albert Nile which offers a great view of water-loving animals like the Nile crocodiles, hippos, and different bird species like giant kingfisher, African fish eagle, pied kingfisher, and black crake among others. Again, this boat cruise will offer you the best view of the Murchison falls since it will take you up to the bottom of the falls.
Since the park is home to over 451 bird species comprising of savannah, water, and woodland forest birds; bird watching is possible every time of the year. Among other birds that birders can spot while in this park include Abyssinian ground hornbill, goliath heron, red-throated bee-eater, Malachite Kingfisher, black-headed Lapwing and swamp flycatcher.
Bird watching in Murchison falls national park is done early in the morning, afternoon or late in the evening during a boat cruise or nature walk in Budongo forest.
This activity is usually combined with a boat cruise which stops at the bottom of the falls. Hiking is adventurous for any tourist visiting this park to get the best experience with these fascinating falls. The hike takes about 30minutes to one hour and the top view rewards visitors with a rewarding sight of sister Uhuru water falls and witness the rainbow that is formed when powerful water passes through tight rocks.
Chimpanzee trekking is done in Budongo forest. Trekkers are given one hour of being in the presence of chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking is normally carried out in the morning hours at 8:00 am or afternoon at 2:00pmstarting with a briefing session by the officials or park rangers. The overall experience takes between 2 to 3 hours.
Are you planning to take a Uganda safari? Add Murchison falls national park on your bucket list. It is home to diverse wildlife including four of the big 5 animals, birds, cats, reptile species and sweeping savannah plains.