Murchison Falls National park is Uganda’s largest National Game Park, comprised of the Bugungu and Karuma wild life reserves and covering about 3,840 square kilometers of protected area.
The park gets its name from the sensational Murchison Falls, where the longest river in the world, the Nile forces through a tiny chasm of about 7 meters wide to explode into a violent tempest in a whirlpool about 43 meters below. It becomes a calm river that attracts a lot of wild life along its banks including many buffalos, water bucks, elephants and hogs that throng the river banks to drink fresh water, cool off the scorching heat and eat fresh grass.
The Nile is also home to one of Africa’s densest hippo and crocodile population plus many water birds including the world’s most accessible wild population of the rare shoebill stork.
The Murchison falls vegetation is comprised of the lush savannah grasslands, riverine forest and woodland. This vast chunk of untamed African savannah is immersed with a lot of wild life and the favorite national park in Uganda for wild life safaris.
Some of her wild life includes: lions, baboons, giraffes, buffalos, Uganda cobs, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeests, hippos, elephants, and many bird species including the red throated bee eater, skimmers, African fish eagle, cattle egrets among others. Rabongo forest located southeast of the park is the home for several rainforest creatures including chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys, and forest birds.
The Nile divides Murchison Falls National Park into two sections: the North and the South. The southern section was heavily poached in the 1980s and saw a significant reduction in animals to an extent that some rhinos were completely phased out.
The northern section experienced less poaching greatly due to the Nile that limited access. It acted as some sort of barrier to the poachers thus preventing them from easily accessing the Northern side. For that reason, this section has more wild life compared to the south and is favored for game viewing and adventures.
ADVENTURES IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
The northern part of the park is favored for game drives due to its significantly more wildlife than the south. When you access the park through the southern section, you shall have to get to the ferry crossing at paraa and cross to the northern side to start your game drive. The best time to start the game drive is early by 7: ooam.
Explore the Albert and Queens tracks for a great chance to catch the nocturnal and hunters before they retire to their hideouts including: lions, hyenas, leopards and hippos.
Catch the elephants, buffalos, giraffes and a variety of antelopes feeding in the lush borassus grassland of the northern section. The game drive lasts about four hours.
The afternoon launch cruise from the paraa to the base of the Murchison falls is the biggest highlight of any safari to the Murchison Falls National Park.
A relaxing ride of about three hours, expect to view lots of hippos and crocodiles and an abundance of elephants, waterbucks, hogs, buffalos plus a variety of birds including skimmers, cattle egrets, African fish eagle, red throated bee eaters, cormorants, and luckily, the rare shoebill stork.
From the boat landing at the bottom of Murchison falls, you hike around to the top and get to the narrow gorge to watch the entire Nile force through a narrow gorge of 7 meters wide to explode into these magnificent waterfalls.
It is a 45 minutes to 1 hour hike to the top with great sights of the violent smoky-looking falls and the rainbow catching through the falls, while feeling cool drops from the waterfalls landing on your skin.
While at the top, you can picnic and camp. Endeavor to apply an insect repellant before the hike to ward off the tsetse flies.
Kaniyo Pabidi is an undisturbed area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve. This area is popular for chimpanzee tracking is the main activity. To track the chimps you require a chimp permit issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The area is also a great birding spot with a number of forest birds that may not be seen anywhere else in East Africa including: chocolate-backed kingfisher, the white-thighed hornbill, and puvel’s illadiposis.
Kaniyo Pabidi is located on the Masindi-Paraa road 8 kilometers from Kichwamba Road.
Nature walks are a great way to explore the beautiful wildlife of Murchison Falls National park on foot. You get to track and quietly and closely observe a number of animals, Birds and other features.
Nature walks can be done in a number of areas some of which include Rabongo Forests, Kaniyo pabidi and hike up to the top of the Falls.
Spot fishing can be done in the river Nile below the Murchison Falls National park. It is rich in Nile perch and tiger fish.
To do spot fishing, one requires a spot fishing permit.
GETTING TO MURCHISON FALLS
It is located 300 km from Uganda’s capital city Kampala. There are three different routes to Murchison falls National Park.
-Kampala through historical Luwero triangle- Masindi – the park.
-Kampala through Hoima road -Masindi-the park.
-Kampala- Karuma -pakwach-the park.