Murchison Falls National Fall
The World’s Greatest Waterfall
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the Northern end of the Albertine Rift valley where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment merges into the vast, plain -dotted savannah. Gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and elevated to park status in1952, one Uganda‘s oldest protected areas. It is the largest, combined with continuous Karuma and Bugungu wildlife Reserves it covers 5072km2, home to 76 species of mammals and over 451 bird species.
The Victoria Nile bisects the national park, racing westwards for 80km over a series of rapids before exploding through the narrow (6m) gap in the remnant rift valley cliffs. This 45m plunge drains the last of the river’s energy transforming the torrent into abroad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor towards Lake Albert.
The river below the Falls provides one of Uganda’s finest wildlife spectacles, Regular visitors to the riverbank include elephants, giraffes and buffalo while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
Activities/ Attractions in Murchison Falls National Park
Paraa is the starting point of boat trips to the falls and the delta and the site of the vehicle ferry crossing. Consequently, most of the tourist accommodation serving Murchison Falls National Park is located in the vicinity, much of it on the river bank just outside the park, 5km to the west.
Murchison Falls boat cruise
The launch voyage upriver from Paraa to see the Murchison Falls exploding through the cliffs at the head of Fajao Gorge is the park’s oldest and most popular excursion. The 3hr return trip passes a wealth of riverside wildlife on the way, including resident hippos and crocodiles and visiting elephants buffalos etc.
Top of the Falls
Visitors should be sure to visit the top of the falls (Murchison Falls) viewpoint to see hear and feel the thunder through a 6m-wide gorge. The site can be reached by vehicle but it is more rewarding to disembark from the launch to climb up to the Top of the falls through Fajao Gorge.
Delta Boat cruises
Boats also run downriver from Paraa to the Nile Delta where a mosaic of papyrus islands chokes the river’s entrance into Lake Albert. These are rich in water birds, most notably the shoebill
The river below Murchison Falls provides an exciting challenge for anglers with the record for Nile Perch landed with rod and line standing at a hefty 108kg.
Murchison Falls National Park‘s prime game viewing area lies on the Buligi peninsula a triangle of grassland founded by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert, and the Albert Nile flowing out if it. Expect to see elephant, buffalo ,antelopes and giraffes and keep your fingers crossed for lion and leopard.
Visitors can also take to the air to explore the plains north and west of Paraa in a hot air balloon. Contact the jobihani Dream Balloons office at Paraa Safari Lodge
Heart of Murchison
While much of the southern part of Murchison Falls National Park is covered by bush and forest, the heart of the park is covered by a delightful tract of savanna. Vehicle tracks have recently been opened in this area, which thanks to substantial herds of Uganda Kob, is becoming known as a prime location for lions.
Forest Walk and Chimpanzee Tracking
Kaniyo pabidi Forest.
This forest in the south of Murchison Falls Conservation area is home to the habituated chimpanzee group that can be tracked with experienced forest guides. Kaniyo Pabidi is also an essential birding site due to the presence of Albertine Rift endemics and other restricted range species including the chocolate-backed kingfisher, white-thighed hornbill and Puvel’s illadopsis
Birding activities overlap with the wildlife viewing locations described above. Highlights include easy sightings of resident and water birds on the cruise to the Falls, thrilling shoebill sightings in the Nile Delta and careful searches for rare and restricted range forest species in Kaniyo Pabidi Forest.
Energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk Boomu Womens’ Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community
Best time of the year to visit Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda is known as a whole round travel destination to any tourist planning to travel due to its climate, location to the equator and Lake Victoria and its unique weather patterns to the climate. Uganda mainly has two rainy seasons; from October to November and the long rainy season starts from Mid-march to the end of May.
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry seasons from December to late February and from June to September, as the animals congregate around water bodies making them easier to observe.
How to get to Murchison Falls National Park
A number of routes can be used to reach the Nile at Paraa, the park’s main tourism hub, where a vehicle ferry crosses the river at roughly hourly intervals throughout the day.
Southern Entrance gates
Two routes lead to Paraa from Masindi town, which is 305 km from Kampala (a 4hr drive). The most direct is the 86km approach which enters the park through Kichum banyobo Gate,16km from Masindi. Diversions along the way include the Kaniyo Pabidi section of Budongo Forest, the Heart of Murchison game viewing area and Murchison Falls. A longer but more scenic alternative route from Masindi runs to Paraa via Bulia (136km). The route passes through Budongo Forest before a memorable descent of the rift valley escarpment with views across Lake Albert toward the Blue Mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park can be entered through Bugungu or Mubako gates.
Northern Entrance Gates
Murchison Falls National Park can also be reached on the north side of the Nile via Chobe, Wankwar and Tangi gates. These are all accessed from the Kampala-Pakwach road which crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls in the north-eastern corner of the park 260 kms from Kampala.
Pakuba Airfield 19km from North Paraa, can be reached using chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield near Kampala. Other airfields in the park include chobe to the east and Bugungu to the south of Paraa
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Murchison Falls National Park in Pictures
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