Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest protected area. It is bisected into two parts by the Mighty River Nile, the second longest river in the world. The park is one of the best african destinations for sightseeing, nature retreats, camping and game viewing.
The park was named after the mighty Murchison falls where the Nile, the longest river in the world, is forced through a narrow gap in the rock (only 7 meters wide), before ferociously plunging down 43 meters.
This is one is one of the most spectacular National Parks in Uganda, and indeed in the whole of Africa. It is the largest game park in the country with an area of 3,840 sq.km. and has the most intense concentration of animals along River Nile. Here is the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, where the River Nile hurls itself in an appalling convulsion through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 metres in one breathtaking leap.
With Karuma falls at the far East of the park, the Nile cascades over 23 kilometres of rapids to the Murchison Falls in an awesome sight. This is some of the most exciting white water in Africa.
A launch trip up stream to the falls is one of the great experiences in Africa. Elephant, hartebeest, giraffe, buffalo, crocodiles and countless antelope and birds (including the rare Shoebill stork) can be admired at the water’s edge as the launch glides along.
The Murchison Falls Park, with its variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamp lands to broad Savannah, provides the opportunity of seeing many of the animals found in Uganda.
In the southern section of the park is the beautiful Rabongo Forest, home to several families of chimpanzees and other primates. Make sure you have plenty of film for your camera, although they are difficult to spot in the thick canopy above.
What to do when in the park
The launch trip on the Nile from Paraa to the foot of Murchison Falls to the substructure of the mighty Murchison falls where sinister water escapes from the narrow gorge, an opportunity to see the amazing hippos, crocodiles, water birds along the river banks enabling a wonderful birding safari in search for birds like the rare shoebill, fish eagles, cormorants, herons, bee-eaters and kingfishers.
View Elephants, Buffaloes, Bushbucks, Lions, Giraffes, elephants and a variety of bird species.
The walk at Kaniyo Pabidi in search for Chimpanzees is the most famous activity in the park. You will also see many forest birds, including the puvel’s illadopsis and the white-thigh hornbill found nowhere else in East Africa, the chocolate-backed kingfisher, cormorants, herons and many more.
At the top of Murchison Falls, the Victoria Nile explodes through a 6 -meter gap, causing the very rock to shake – quite literally. This phenomenon is said to be the most powerful natural flow of water anywhere on Earth. Can you imagine the strength and size of the Nile Perch, which can withstand such a force, which exists at the foot of this perpetual avalanche of water!
Animals, birds and plants can be viewed and observed on foot, while enjoying the calmness of nature.
Top of the Fall Trail:
Guests can hike to the top of the falls, and experience the mighty Murchison falls.
By road, it is a 3-hour drive from Kampala to Masindi, 217 km on tarmac and 40 km on high-grade murram, then an additional 2 hours (97 km) from Masindi to the Falls on murram. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is advisable.
The Park can also be reached by air charter services. Pakuba airstrip on the northern sector and Bugungu airstrip on the Southern sector make it ideal for charter services to the park.
Where to stay when in Murchison falls
There is a campsite at the top of the Falls, which can be used by those with their own camping gear. Contact UNP for reservations and current rates.
The riverside Nile Safari Camp is said to be one of the most romantic lodges in the world. Accommodation is in beautifully designed waterside log cabins each with its own internal tent, terrace, toiletry and outside shower. There is an al fresco restaurant and small gift shop. Watching a stunning sunset from the friendly bar is a must.
In an elevated position on the northern side of the river, guests at the Paraa Safari Lodge benefit from simply massive views. This historic lodge which, before its restoration, was host to many dignitaries is now central to Paraa reclaiming its former glory. The site, service and ambience, which so impressed Britain’s Queen Mother, is being recreated to great effect for the enjoyment of modern tourists. Each room has full facilities and a remarkable view. There is an impressive restaurant, swimming pool and bar.
The Sambiya River Lodge presents a unique African experience. A traditionally designed thatched hotel is surrounded by thatched bungalows, all in a very special setting. The atmosphere is relaxing, warm and friendly and the lodge provides a restaurant, bar and gift shop. All rooms are complete with full private facilities.