Murchison Falls National Park lies in the northern part of Uganda approximately 220 kilometres from the country’s capital city Kampala, west of the Karuma bridge is the 3,840 square kilometres national park largest and oldest conservation area in Uganda its major highlight is the Murchison falls dropping to the lower base of the Victoria Nile flowing towards lake Albert it is the most exciting middle attraction of its own in the whole of east Africa. The park covers the largest area in the Murchison falls conservation area encompassing the Bugungu and Karuma game reserve to its south all managed under the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA).The park headquarters lie on the southern bank of the Nile at Paraa. It occupies most areas of Bulisa and Nwoya district.
Murchison Falls National Park was gazette in 1952. It was called the Kabalega national park during the reign of Uganda’s President Idi Amin Dada, following a downfall of his government, the park regained its name, the Nile divides the park into two sectors Southern and Northern bank receiving offering an excellent land and boat-based game viewing including the Rothschild’s giraffe, lions, waterbucks, elephant, Nile crocodile and hippos common along the banks of the river. The Kanio Pabidi forest harbours a community of habituated chimpanzees for visits as well as an incredible number of forest birds.
The national park is bisected into two by the world’s longest river Nile, its vegetation cover is mainly composed of tall green grasslands interspersed with Borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine forest to the north, the south has a denser woody land giving a closed forest canopy at the Rabongo hill over 700 plant species have been identified in the national park. It supports at least 144 mammal species, 51 reptiles and over 500 species of birds the Murchison falls conservation area is one of the few places where there is a big increment of large mammals like elephants, it also supports the world’s largest population of the Rothschild’s giraffe, lions and leopards are present within the eco-system, common mammal species include Jackson’s Harte beast, oribi, kobs, bushbuck defassa waterbuck, and warthogs. The park has an incredible bird list identified with the rare shoebill stock, it is where you can see the localised white-crested turaco, red-headed love bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill, green breasted pita.
Boat cruise the base of the falls, a 3-hour launch cruise trip is the most popular in the national park, game viewing along the way is most interesting expect to see the Nile crocodiles, hippos, small herds of buffaloes and kobs. There is a reliable list of water birds lookout for the African fish eagle, African skimmer, piapiac, malachite kingfisher, yellow-backed weaver among other species. Starting at paraa, the boat cruise stretches along the Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls for many years the boat trips have been conducted by the Uganda wildlife authority running twice per day.
Kanio Pabidi forest is placed south of the national park a northern extension of Budongoforest divided between the Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserve it contains large trees of mahogany and iron, primates present in the area include the black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey and Top of the falls,olive baboons, Kanio contain two large families off chimpanzee each estimated to have 90 individuals. these are tracked from the park beginning at the Budongo ecolodge
Hiking the top of the falls, Murchison falls the main attraction point south of the Nile presenting spectacular views of river Nile as it finds its way through the small centimetre rock slitting to drop downhill into a plunge a visit to the top can be tagged to the boat cruise and a hike to the top of the falls or game drive from south to the top directly.
Park entrance points Murchison falls national park can be accessed from several park entrance points these include the Kichambanyobo gate easiest entrance towards the Budongo forest, Mubako gate via Lake Albert, Chobe gate situated 2km away from the Karuma Bridge, wankwar gate is strategic for those accessing the park from Gulu or Kidepo valley national park, Tangi gate placed a few kilometres from Pakwach.
The delta circuit along the northern bank of Murchison falls national park is concentrated with wildlife and a well-established area to do game drives, the delta offers good birding sights including the eye-catching ground Abyssinian hornbill, grey crowned crane, and saddle-billed stock to mention a few, game drives are done early in the mornings to catch up with morning risers, especially the predators like lions and leopards, the delta region has a newly established oil project Tilenga, possible to take visits of the oil mining sites in Murchison falls national park
Hot air balloons, a rare activity to do while in Murchison falls national park, it is exciting to fly over the large conservation in a hot air balloon, it is organised at Para and the flight rides are taken by experienced pilots, the balloon takes weight depending on the air-filled up and maximum of eight people.
How to get to Murchison falls national park, the park can easily be accessed by air to the nearest Airstrips two of which are found close to Paraa, Bugungu on the southern side of the river and Pakuba on the north and a small Airstrip adjacent to Chobe safari lodge daily schedules from Entebbe by the aero link to the national park are present. It is approximately a 5 hours drive by road from Entebbe to the park depending on the entry point it may take a few more minutes to arrive. Park entrance fees are costed at 45USD for foreign non-residents according to the Uganda wildlife authority new tariff plan.