MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

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This park is located in North-Western Uganda and it is the largest and oldest National Park in Uganda covering approximately 3,877 sq. km. it is one of the most spectacular parks in Africa. If you could only visit one of the national parks in Uganda, Murchison Falls might be your best pick. 

Murchison Falls National park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant valley wall, creating the dramatic falls, the park’s unique attraction and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. The Victoria Nile is a magnet for wildlife, and it teems with crocodile and hippo. Chimpanzees can be tracked in neighboring Budongo Forest. The vegetation of Murchison Falls National Park is made up of Savannah, Riverine forest and woodland.

East of the Murchison Falls within the park, are the Karuma Falls, where the Nile River cascades over a breathtaking 23 km of rapids. The scene creates one of the most exciting white-water rafting opportunities in Africa. Launch trips stand out as the most common exciting activities because it gets you close to the centerpiece of the park. For those that want an aerial wildlife viewing experience, hot air ballooning activities are available within the park.

The park supports four of the Big Five; only rhino is absent. Buffalo and elephant are particularly common. Animals are in plentiful supply and game drives here offer you a very healthy population of lions that like to prey on the abundant Uganda Kob. Oribi antelopes are also found here. Their chances to see Jackson’s hartebeest, grey duiker and bushbuck, big cats, chimpanzees, bushbucks, warthogs, reedbucks, hartebeest, Rothschild giraffes, and a variety of monkeys like the rare Patas monkey can sometimes be spotted on the grassy plains. Hyena is present but rare.

Birdwatchers will be in paradise here with hundreds of birds’ species. You can also take a Nile River boat cruise to spot Nile crocodiles, hippos and water birds such as the crested crane, the country’s national bird. Murchison Falls NP is one of the best places in Africa to find the prehistoric-looking shoebill stork. Sightings of this sought-after bird are almost guaranteed on a boat trip on the Victoria Nile towards the Lake Albert delta. This boat trip, as well as the more popular ‘launch’ trip towards Murchison Falls, are, in fact, great for checking off many water-associated birds. With 53 species recorded, raptors are also very well represented. The park’s impressive checklist contains more than 450 species in total. 

Accommodation goes for luxury, mid-range and budget facilities and these include; Red Chilli Rest Camp, Boomu Women’s Group Bandas, Budongo Eco Lodge, Global Village Guest House, Kalalo Cottage Inn, Masindi Hotel, New Court View Hotel, Parkside Safari Lodge, Shoebill Campsite, Uganda Wildlife Campsite, and Yebo Safari Camp.

Common activities include: 

  • Wildlife viewing/game viewing, 
  • Chimp tracking (Budongo Forest)
  • White water rafting (Murchison and Karuma falls)
  • Launch trips to the bottom of the falls and hikes to the top
  • Boat cruise (Nile River)
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Birding and 
  • Nature walks.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing: Murchison Falls National Park can be visited throughout the year, but the best time for wildlife viewing is the Dry season from December to February when animals congregate around the Victoria Nile and other reliable water sources. June through September is also a high season when most tourists are visiting the national park. This is when you will be more likely to enjoy relief from both heavy rains and high temperatures.

Best Time for Bird Watching: The birdlife in Murchison Falls is good year-round, but at its best from January to March. This is the low tourist season, but there is plenty of bird activity. December to February has the least rain, while April to May and August to October have the most rain. The heavy rains might result in delays due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails and can limit your bird-watching time. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

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