Murchison National Park
First protected as a game reserve in 1927 and later declared as a national park in 1952, Murchison national park located in northern Uganda and north of Kampala is one of the oldest and first national parks in the country hosting a vast number of wildlife; more than 76 mammals, over 451 bird species, reptiles, amphibians and other plant species.
The park covers an area of 3,840 square kilometers making it the largest national park in the Uganda and lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley where the Bunyoro Escarpment dissects into the lowland plains of the savannah. It’s because of this reason that about 23 endemics called this place home. A number of popular figures have also visited the park from Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and many others including British royals.
Murchison falls formerly known as Kabalega falls are the main attraction in the park emitting large volumes of water of about 300 cubic meters per second at a very powerful pressure. The falls are created as a result of river Nile forcing its way through a 7-meter-wide gorge plunging 43meters down into the aptly named ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, creating the famous rainbow that does appear in so many photographs. Cruising upstream of the falls, you’ll be able to appreciate nature while viewing a number of wildlife species like elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, Nile crocodile and aquatic birds both on shallows or shoreline. Hiking on top of the falls offers an extraordinary experience where one will be able to feel the sense of freshness and the roaring water falls.
What to see in Murchison national park
Apart from viewing the iconic Murchison falls, the park is home to a number of wildlife species like the big four i.e. lions, elephants, buffaloes and hippo. Soon there will be plans to reintroduce rhinos from Ziwa Rhino sanctuary. Other animals that can be found in the park include the giraffe, Ugandan kob antelope, leopards, hyenas, bushbucks, waterbucks and warthogs, Jackson’s hartebeest and many more.
One of the places tourists can’t afford to miss visiting while visiting Murchison national park is Ziwa rhino sanctuary. Established in 2005, this non-governmental project was meant to revive the population of rhinos following their depletion in Murchison and Kidepo parks and of today, there 22 white rhinos in the sanctuary. This is the only place in the country where these endangered species can be found.
Activities carried out in Murchison national park.
Game drives through the park with the help of a ranger or tour guide does offer tourists an opportunity to have a glance at spectacular creatures that are always on the move through the savannah grass lands like the lions, leopards and Uganda kob antelopes. This activity is usually carried out in the morning hours of the day and early evening hours because these wildlife creatures are more active during the less hot times of the day. The Delta area, Buligi Peninsular and the southern sector are best and main game viewing areas.
Hiking to the top of the Murchison falls is one of the other activities that a tourist doesn’t have to miss out. This activity gives tourists a fresh feeling as they get splashed by a cloud of fog from the falls.
Bird watching offers tourists a chance to look at different species of birds like the Albertine Rift endemics, water birds and savanna forest birds. The activity can be done either during game drives or boat cruises.
Chimpanzee trekking is done in Budongo forest one of the naturally grown forests that has been in existence for centuries. The forest has not only offered a haven for the endangered chimpanzees but also a home to birds and other species.
Boat safaris; The boat cruises are carried out upriver from Paraa to the Falls and this gives tourists a close look at large mammals, crocodiles and birdlife that frequently flood the shoreline.
Hot air balloon flights; This recent innovation will give you a close look at the beautiful landscape of the park and some animal species. This activity is absolutely relieving and costs between $380 and $400.
Fishing is another activity carried out along the Victoria Nile and to do this, one has to be with a permit that does allow one to carry out the activity plus a ranger provided by the Uganda wild life authorities. The main type of fish caught on the waters of Victoria Nile is the Nile parch.
Cultural tours within the park involves the Mubako community that does entertain you, village tours will help you see the traditional lifestyle of the locals and the crafts shop by the Boomu Women’s Group. It should also be noted that the above activities are paid for separately.
When to visit Murchison national park
Tourism in Murchison national park is considered to be an all-year success however, the best time too visit the park is during the dry season which is between June to September and December to February. During the wet season. The park receives an average annual rainfall of 1,085mm, with much of this falling between March and November. Like many parts of Africa, during the dry season there’s less access to water for the animals hence forcing most of the wildlife species to go to closer water bodies looking food and water. Making it the best time these creatures can be seen.
Accommodation in Murchison national park
The national park has the best accommodation services and these range from luxury, mid-range and budget. Chobe safari lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, bakers lodge and Nile Safari Lodge are among the luxury facilities. Pakuba Safari Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Kabalega wilderness lodge and Fort Murchison Safari Lodge are mid-range facilities while the Boomu Women’s Group Bandaas, Budongo eco lodge, Red Chilli Rest Camp, Yebo Safari Camp and Parkside Safari Lodge are the budget facilities.
How to get to the park
Murchison national park can be accessed by both air and road. By road, the park is about 4hrs 30 mins via Kampala – Masindi route (282 km) or 5hrs 30min via Kampala-Hoima. The park can also be accessed through air through a chartered plane from Entebbe international airport to Chobe airstrip which takes about 80mins saving you time you would have spent on the road.
Visiting Uganda’s national parks regardless of the season is an experience extremely worth being part of. Reach out to us and we’ll help arrange your itinerary to these parks.