Murchison Falls National Park is the oldest National Park in Uganda gazetted in 1926 and is the largest wildlife Reserve in the country covering an area of 3840 square kilometers/1483 square miles/384000 hectares. This Park is the best and most popular destination you should visit for a safari because it offers an ultimate African Safari Experience. Whether you are planning a short safari, Murchison Falls National Park is the answer or even a Long safari, it is still the answer.
Murchison Falls National Park is situated at the Northern side of the Albertine Rift Valley (in North-western Uganda) where the extensive Bunyoro Escarpment topples over a broad palm-dotted Savannah. This Park is a home to over 76 mammal species on top of the 450 bird species that call the Park home. Murchison Falls National Park is popular for/ and derives its name from the powerful Murchison Falls which involves the Victoria Nile thrusting 45 meters over the remnant of the Rift Valley Wall creating the famous and substantial Murchison Falls that we all know and is also the highlight of this Park. The final event of the Murchison Falls is an 80 kilometer/50 miles stretch of impressive rapids. The tremendous cataract drains the last of the river’s strength and transforms it into a vast tranquil stream that flows quietly across the rift Valley floor into Lake Albert. This Park has in the past years drawn millions of local and International tourists including prominent tourists such as Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and other British Royals.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
Let us explore some of the interesting activities that attract tourists to Uganda’s oldest and largest National Park. These include;
Day game drives
Game drives within Murchison Falls National Park are always conducted in the company of experienced UWA guides who have knowledge of most wildlife species you might encounter during the game drives. Buligi game track on the Northern bank offers a marvelous sighing of herds of elephants, numerous buffaloes, giraffes, Antelopes such as duikers, Uganda Kobs, Oribis, Reedbucks and the strange-looking Hartebeests among others. Another popular game track is the Honeymoon track (still new)-situated on the Southern bank and is popular for the Giraffes that were translocated from the Northern bank in 2016.
Night or Nocturnal Game drives
Night game drives introduce tourists to some of the predators of the National Park that include Serval Cats, Lions, Spotted Hyenas and leopards. Night game drives within Murchison Falls National Park start from 7pm and last for 2 hours and is a must-do activity.
Game drives and launch cruises offer the best opportunity for tourists to spot some bird species within this Park. This allows tourists to see aquatic birds, forest birds (especially within Budongo Forest), Savannah birds and different Albertine Rift Endemic bird species. Some of the common bird species you will encounter within Murchison Falls National Park include Abyssinian ground hornbills, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Giant Kingfishers, Secretary birds, Red-throated bee-eaters, Black-bellied Bustards, Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers, Open-billed Storks, the Ituri batis, Ducks (mainly sighted by the riverbanks), the Widow bird, the elusive shoebill and Plovers (also sighted at the Riverbanks) among others.
Hiking and nature walks
What can be greater than hiking the Murchison Falls and be rewarded with incredible views of the National Park? Nature walks can be conducted within Rabongo Forest where you will sight different bird species and primates like Chimpanzees. Other areas for nature walks include Budongo Forest for several wildlife species such as monkeys and bird species, the Baker trail allows tourists to explore the trail used by Samuel Baker and Florence Baker.
Launch cruises or Boat rides / cruises on the Nile River
This is probably the most exciting activity within Murchison Falls National Park, which allows tourists to watch several aquatic bird species such the Pink-backed Pelicans and African Fish eagles among others. The wildlife species at the banks of River Nile include Nile crocodiles, Hippos, and Buffaloes, Elephants as they visit the banks to bathe and cool off.
Hot air balloon wildlife Safaris
Murchison Falls National Park together with Queen Elizabeth National Park, are the only two Parks in Uganda where this activity can be conducted. To achieve a maximum satisfaction, tourists have to rise at dawn to experience the sun rise then fly over the Park to see several wildlife species such as Elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, Antelopes and predator such as lions and leopards as they return from the nigh hunt. This activity costs $380 per person and include refreshments on-board.
This Park is the best option for tourists interested in Sport Fishing, and this Nile Perch Fishing adventure can be conducted from the shores of the Falls or by boat rides through the falls. Another perfect spot for extraordinary fishing experience (for big Nile Perch and Tiger Fish) is the Karuma falls next to Chobe Safari Lodge
Chimpanzee tracking within Budongo Forest
Chimpanzee tracking is also possible within this Park especially from the Kaniyo Pabidi Site and Busingiro site of Budongo Forest Reserve. This activity within Budongo Forest is conducted by the Jane Goodall Research Station and done in two sessions (Morning and afternoon sessions). It is interesting to know that the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is also possible within Budongo Forest Reserve at only $150 per person.
Cultural encounters within Murchison Falls National Park involve visiting the Mubako Cultural performers who perform in Alur or Bunyoro Traditional dances around Lodge Campfires. You can also visit the Boomu Women’s group near the entrance of Kichumbayobo gate. While at the Boomu Village, you will enjoy a typical Ugandan rural village lifestyle (within the traditional African Bandas), enjoy traditional foods and participate in some of the activities like preparing a traditional meal or cultivating and harvesting crops. You can engage in a Village walk and explore everything you need to learn about their everyday lives.
Therefore, Murchison Falls National Park is the main tourist destination in Uganda because it is a home to the powerful Murchison Falls (the main attraction in the Park), over 76 mammal species and over 450 bird species, and the activities to participate in include day and night game drives, hiking and nature walks, sport fishing, chimpanzee tracking, hot air balloon safaris and launch cruises among others.