Considered as the largest Uganda’s national park, Murchison Falls was established in 1952 at the extreme end of the western arm of the east African rift valley also referred to as the Albertine rift. It is 80km in the north of Masindi town and 350kms from the Kampala the Uganda’s capital city. The protected area extends for 3,840 Km2 and when it is adjoined with the adjacent Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves to form the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area, it covers 5, 308 Km2. Murchison Falls National Park is traversed by the world’s longest river – the Nile River for about 115km bisecting it into the northern and the southern sectors leaving the magnificent natural landmark that has been listed as the greatest natural feature to ever happen on the Nile course and that is nothing other than the world’s powerful Murchison falls. The first European to discover these falls was Sir Samuel Baker on his Nile Expedition and he named it after the President of the Royal Geographical Society – Sir Roderick Murchison on 14th March, 1864. The Murchison Falls are very amazing as water of the flowing Nile             River At the falls, it’s where the waters of the majestic Nile River squeeze through a narrow gorge, only 8 meters wide, before which is the only outlet of Lake victoria squeezes its self to pass through an 8m gorge before falling 43m below to what has been termed as the Devils Cauldron forming a plume of spray marked by a thunderous roar and a trade mark rainbow. Murchison Falls National Park is a home of the four of the big five land animals including elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards. The Rhinos thrive in the adjacent Ziwa Rhino sanctuary where they were re-introduced in 2005 after getting extinct in 1983.

Murchison Falls National Park is regarded to be on low altitude on the geographical standards of Uganda falling in between 619m and 1,292m and is currently the second most visited park in Uganda by travellers on Uganda safaris after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Its average rainfall stands at 1,085mm and is amount is regarded as a bit low in comparison to the south western tropical forests of Uganda though it is considered to be of the same range with other savannah environments of East Africa. The vegetation comprises of green tall savannah grass land dotted by borasuss palm trees and marked by river line vegetation along the banks of the Nile not forgetting the dense wood and forested landscapes of the southern sector.

Regarding Wildlife, Murchison Falls National Park is a home to 76 mammal species, 460 species of birds with 19 that are not yet confirmed, 53 species of raptors which amalgamate to make your safari in Uganda memorable. The animal species include among others; defassa buck, bushbuck, bohor reedbuck, warthog, side-striped jackal and oribis, olive baboon and vervet monkeys, leopard, spotted hyena and the localized patas monkey. The dense tracts of Rabongo Forest contain black and white colobus, chimpanzees and other forest primates. Rare bird species like the shoe bill stork thrive in the park.

murchison-falls-np

Murchison falls

The Murchison Falls are considered as the greatest natural landmark to ever happen on the course of the world’s longest River – River Nile. The Nile River which traverses the Murchison Falls National Park bisecting it into two parts leaves this natural land mark with in the park boundaries. Occurring on the Victoria part of the Nile, River Nile which is the only outlet of Lake Victoria squeezes its self to pass through an 8m ravine plunging for 43m while hitting on hard rocks producing a thunderous roar before falling into the Devils Cauldron forming a trade mark rainbow. It is an amazing feature as the 300 cubic meters of water pumped by Lake Victoria every second is pressed to way its way out of a gorge that is below ten meter width. The falls have got a historical encounter dating back to the era of exploration when the European Sir Samuel Baker discovered it on 14th March 1864 and called it Murchison Falls after his boss Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal Geographical Society. Though its name was altered to Kabalega falls during the Amin’s era to commemorate the famous King (Omukama) of Bunyoro Kabalega who is known for having resisted against the British rule, it was later transferred to its original name. It is such amazing encounter to ever have while on safaris in Uganda.

Wildlife

Murchison Falls National Park contains 76 mammal species including four of the big five land animals. These include herds of elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards. The Park also has giraffes which can only be traced in Murchison and Kidepo in Uganda. The counts of Uganda Kob, Oribis, Jackson’s hartebeest, waterbucks, bushbucks, warthogs, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, blue and red tailed monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys patas monkeys and counts of Chimpanzees in the adjacent Budongo forest and white rhinos in the adjacent Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

Birds

Murchison Falls National Park has varied eco systems settings ranging from forested to water and savannah which shelters counts of birds. The park has 451 bird species and other 19 species that are not yet confirmed which can be encountered while on birding safari in Uganda. The birds that can be seen in Murchison Falls National Park include among others; the Goliath heron which is the largest in Uganda, Shoebill Stork which is considered rare and endangered and grey crowned crane which is the Uganda’s national bird. Other bird species in the park include; Swamp Flycatcher, Blue-headed Coucal, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Pied Kingfisher, Piapiac, Weaver Birds, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Silver bird, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, African Quail-Finch, Speckle-fronted Weaver and Red-throated Bee-eater.

Murchison Falls National Park can be connected to from these originating areas;

  • There are two routes that can used to reach Murchison Falls National Park from Masindi. One is via Kichumbanyobo gate Masindi 85km about 2 – 3 hours’ drive while the other is via the Albertine rift 135km about 5 hours’ drive with impressive scenic views.
  • Murchison Falls National Park can also be connected to via the northern side through Karuma – Pakwach road after branching off from the Kampala – Gulu road few kilometers from Karuma Bridge. By using this route, the Murchison falls National Park can thus be penetrated through any of these gates;
  • Chobe gate 2km north of the Karuma Bridge.
  • Tangi gate 110km west of the bridge of Karuma.
  • Wankwar gate which is 10 km off the main highway and several Kilometers from Purongo.
  • Murchison Falls National park can also be connected to using public transport. The buses connect from Kampala to Masindi on a daily basis after which you can pick a private taxi to connect to the park for the remaining distance at a lesser cost compared to if you were to get it from Kampala.
  • Murchison Falls National Park can also be accessed by Air travel. Aero link operates scheduled flights to Pakuba Airfield and Bugungu Airstrip from Entebbe International Airport. Other Charter airline carriers operate charter services from either Kajjansi Airfield or Entebbe Airport to Bugungu and Pakuba Airfields upon demand.

Game drives

The ranges of game that thrive in Murchison Falls National Park pose a rich ground for game drive activity. Wildlife in Murchison includes; elephants, lions, buffalos, Jackson’s hartebeests, Rothschild giraffes which thrive in the northern sector of the park explaining the reason why game drives are conducted in the northern bank while on Uganda safari. The various tracks are designed to enable travelers to explore the wildlife in various parts of the park including the Buligi, Albert and Victoria tracks. The area between Paraa – Pakwach road and the Victoria Nile delta has great concentrations of wildlife thus forming a rich ground for wild game viewing. The left turn at the cross roads to enter the Buligi area 7km from Paraa while a right turn takes you to Wankwar gate and finally Chobe. The Nyamsika gorge which is positioned a few Kilometers from the junction offers drinking point for animals including buffaloes and lions tend to dwell with in while the Nyamsika cliffs provide shelter to seasonal colonies of bee-eater bird species while the shallows provide an ideal ground for spotting Egyptian plover. The dense wood in the southern sector offer less counts of wildlife hence limited game viewing encounter. However, the open landscape along Sambiya Karuma road offers sights of Jackson hartebeest, Uganda Kob, waterbuck, oribi and baboon. Rarely encountered are elephants and lions. The game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are ideally done in the morning at 6:30am and in the evening at 4:00pm lasting 3 – 4 hours.

Birding

The birding encounter can be carried out as part of the game drive or the launch cruise but can also be carried out as a single activity. The banks of the Nile offer sights of the rare and endangered shoebill stork which is easily seen in months of January – March. The plains offer sights of Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Marabou Stork, Secretary Birds, , Widow Bird, Open-billed Storks and Black-bellied Bustards. Others species include; grey crowned crane, White headed vulture, Black headed lapwing, Senegal thick- knee among others. Birding in Murchison is mostly done in Rabongo and Kaniyo – Pabidi forests, along the riverine vegetation that follow the Nile River, Nyamsika cliffs with sights of Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eaters. The amalgamation of these derives a complete birding experience while on safari in Uganda.

Launch trips

The Murchison Falls National Park offers relaxing boat trip along the River Nile. Starting at Paraa, the Nile launch trip stretches up to the bottom of the falls. The water shores are marked by acacia woodland, borassus palm and mahogany stands. Inaugurated by the Queen of England in 1959, the Nile launch cruise offers impressive sights of the counts of Hippos, Nile crocodiles which is the second largest reptile in the world after the Salty water crocodile, wildlife drinking on the river side including elephants and buffaloes and amazing scenic encounter of the Murchison falls. The counts of birds thrive along the river ecosystem including the shoe bill, saddle billed stork, Goliath heron, pied and malachite kingfishers, African fish eagle, African jacana, piacpiac, African skimmer among others. The activity is best done in the afternoon with the UWA launch departing at 2pm local time lasting for 3 hours.

Top of the falls

The powerful Murchison Falls form the ground for the naming of the Murchison Falls National Park thus encountering it is one those rewarding endeavors to ever have while on Uganda safari. The top of the falls can reached to by taking 15km road that branches from the main Paraa – Masindi road close to Sambiya River Lodge which is a bit rough with steep sections that require careful navigation. The top of the falls is marked by a foot path that trails down to the bottom of the falls following the staggering Nile crushing its self on these strong impermeable rocks to make its way out with great thunderous roar. The view point also offers another 20 minute stretch to a saddle with sights of Murchison falls and large Uhuru falls to the north. Another foot path runs downhill from the saddle to the gorge base below the main waterfall. Exploring the top of the falls requires two (2) hours and ideally in the afternoon offering opportunity for photography.

Cultural encounters

Murchison Falls National Park is surrounded with a range of tribal groups including the northern Nilotic groups and the southern Bantu groups. The Mubako energetic dancers offer you a highlight of local tradition embedded in music dance and drama and handicrafts. The village tour also exposes you to the setting of the local community.

Sport fishing

The waters of the Nile offer opportunity for sport fishing encounters. The waters are rich in counts of fish including the heavy Nile Perch. The rocks positioned at the bottom of the falls and boats moored close to favorable pools and eddy further downstream. Sport fishing featuring the Nile perch and large catfish can be done all year round and all day. The local fisher men point out that the fishing results are great in the early and late hours of the day which is a bit valid for predator species. However, Arthur de Mello an experienced fisherman points out that fish can be got at any time of the day or night provided the weather and water are clear and warm. The Murchison fishing encounter is ideal when the water is low and clear which is between Mid-Januarys to Early April.

Hiking and nature walks

Murchison Falls National Park offers opportunities for nature walks. The walks can be arranged traversing the Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forests with sights of primates and birds. Other walks can be arranged along the Victoria Nile delta stretching for 2 – 4 hours with likely views of shoebill. The hike to the top of the falls takes 45m starting at the bottom of the falls where the boat stops offering the views of the Nile up stream to the top of the falls. The short treks are arranged from Sambiya River Lodge ideal for birders and those who love nature. The stretch in the southern section and tend to last 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Northern and Eastern Murchison

Chobe Safari Lodge

Chobe Safari Lodge is placed at a very enormous spot at the Bank of The Great River Nile and in the chilliness of the thick vegetation of Karuma Wild life Reserve. It provides a perfect escape from the daily routine and for honeymooners. Located in the Murchison Falls National Park, it is a Five Star facility which is unquestionably the gem in Uganda’s crown of tourism destinations. The spectacular panoramic views, together with the sounds of the River Nile’s splendid rapids, sets the sight for an adventure that will amaze even the most shrewd of visitors. Chobe Safari Lodge features 21 luxury tents, 36 elegant guest rooms, Presidential Cottage and 4 suites making it a paradise to stay at while on Uganda safaris.

Facilities.

  • Swimming Pool
  • Restaurant & Cuisine
  • Business Centre
  • The Gift Shop
  • Conference Facilities
  • The Bar

Pakuba Safari Lodge

It is located in North West of Uganda on the Eastern Bank of the Albert Nile. Its tastefully furnished rooms offer comfort, style and serenity. The lodge provides the best opportunity for game viewing in the park as it in the northern bank where elephants, buffaloes and other wild animals can be seen roaming around the lodge early in the morning and late evening. The lodge can be easily accessed via gate of Tangi. It has 46 spacious rooms which can be modelled to suite either twins or a double bed. The large lounge area and surrounding grounds give guests a grand-stand view of Lake Albert and the Albert Nile.

Paraa and Central Murchison

Paraa Safari Lodge

Established in 1954, Paraa Safari Lodge is in Murchison Falls National Park. Paraa lodge is situated in the North West part of Uganda overseeing Nile River. All the 54 rooms at Paraa Safari Lodge are complete with balcony and en-suite private. The luxurious pool oversees the winding River Nile below, which was the scene for the shooting of the African queen – a standard Hollywood movie. The choice of accommodation at the lodge varies from a cottage, suites, double, twin and single.

Facilities

  • Swimming Pool
  • Restaurant & Cuisine
  • The Business Centre
  • The Gift Shop
  • Conference Facilities
  • The Bar

Sambiya River Lodge

Sambiya River Lodge is situated only 20 minutes from the top of the magnificent Murchison Falls. It is the seamless location for those who want to enjoy the serenity of unharmed Africa, untouched by mass tourism. Guests stay in any of the 26 double rooms designed as individual and family thatched cottages which have screened doors & windows, en suite bathrooms, mosquito nets, fans and a veranda to relax. Ten basic bandas are also available for guest accommodation.

Red Chili Rest Camp

Red Chilli is located at Paraa on the southern bank of the River Nile in the heart of the park. It is 500 meters from the ferry crossing area at Paraa where vehicles cross to the northern bank for game drives. The lodge has a fully stocked bar and restaurant below a large open thatched roof overlooking the Nile. The bar is in operation from 6.15am until midnight and meals are available at the following times: Breakfast 7.20am – 10.30am, Lunch 11.30am – 3pm, Dinner 6.30pm – 9pm. Breakfast and lunch are Á la carte, whereas at dinner it offers a choice of 3 different dishes per day including 1 red meat, 1 vegetable option, and 1 white meat. It caters for other dietary requirements on request. It also supplies packed breakfasts (please order before 8pm the previous day) and lunches. Tea and coffee are available while a bonfire is lit most evenings for the full safari experience. Its modern toilets and showers have provision for disabled visitors and all our en-suite bandas are fitted with solar hot water systems, although the heat in Murchison may not allow its use. It offers low to mid budget accommodation in the park, in furnished safari tents, bandas and camping facilities with toilets, modern showers, security lighting and cooking area thus assuring comfort at an affordable price while on Uganda safari.

Geo Lodges Shoebill Camp Site

Situated near the entrance to Murchison Falls National Park, Shoebill Campsite presents good sights of the blue waters of the River Nile, clear skies and cozy atmosphere while undertaking a safari in Uganda. Relax at the camp fire after a busy day of game drive or at the falls listening to the calls of hippos and watching the stars. Guests must provide their own tents. Guests can choose to prepare their own food if they bring their equipment, or eat at the splendid Nile Safari Lodge restaurant just two minutes away on foot. They also have an admittance to the Lodge’s swimming pool overlooking the river.

Campsite Amenities

  • Campfire
  • Seating area
  • River views
  • 24 hour ranger
  • Access to Nile Safari Lodge’s restaurant, bar and pool
  • Guests provide personal tents and equipment for cooking.

Yebo Safari Camp

Yebo Safari Camp is located in the Murchison Falls National park. This simple lodge is set back from the southern bank of the Victoria Nile just outside the western boundary of the main reserve.

UWA Campsite

Uganda wildlife Authority also operates a campsite that provide enormous accommodation opportunity for camping travelers.

Kaniyo Pabidi Forest

Budongo Ecolodge

Budongo Eco Lodge, also known as the Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism Site, is located at the center of Budongo Forest Reserve. The eco-friendly lodge provides relaxed accommodation to travelers on Uganda safaris. Budongo Eco Lodge has five intimate eco cabins, positioned serenely in the forest. The cabins have enough space, with double or twin bed and a living area. Every cabin has en-suite bath room with shower including eco-toilet. The facility also has four dormitory rooms suited with two double decker beds in each room with maximum of four (4) people and shared washing facilities. The eco-friendly lodge’s restaurant is the perfect place for guests to have a refreshing drink before or after their day endeavors. There is a visitor center where a guest can relax or read a book in the lounge area or view the presentation of remains, animal dry structures, and traps that have been gathered from the jungle. The available craft Shop provides a collection of indigenous Uganda crafts.

Boomu Women´s Group Bandas

The grass-thatched bandas have been built in traditional Ugandan style for an authentic community experience on Uganda safari. They are encircled by lovely tropical gardens full of butterflies and weaver birds. Guests are free to spend some time in the gardens or visit the Kigaragara local community and explore the craft shop. Encounter Ugandan cuisine prepared by local women served in the restaurant, and in the warm evenings one can relax by the open air bar under the stars.

Lodge Amenities.

  • Restaurant and open air bar
  • Craft shop
  • Gardens
  • Room Description

Boomu has seven twin bandas, one double banda and a building with two rooms with triple capacity. The rooms possess electric lights (from a generator), shared bathroom facilities and mosquito nets.