MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison Falls National Park, locally known as Kabalega National Park is situated at the end of the Albertine Rift Valley in the North West and it is Uganda’s oldest and largest National park. It is located 309 kilometers north of Kampala in Masindi District and can be accessed by road or flights. The park was first gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1926 and is home to 76 different mammal species and 451 bird species. The Murchison Falls Conservation Area is made up of Bugungu, Karuma, a 4 more wildlife reserves and Murchison Falls National Park. The 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. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. This is something you will clearly see when you visit.
Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents. Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and several British royals.
The vegetation of the park is made up of Savannah, Riverine forest and woodland. Some of the wildlife includes Elephants, Rothschild giraffes, hartebeests, oribi, leopards, lions, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees in Budongo forest, and many bird species. This safari park is an all year wildlife destination but can best be visited during the months of June to late September or January to mid-March.
How to get there
The park can be easily accessed through road using its different gates to reach the Nile at Paraa. The river is crossed here using a vehicle ferry which runs at roughly hourly intervals throughout the day.
Two southerly approaches to Paraa lead out of Masindi town, which is a 4hr drive (305km) from Kampala. Along the way is the Ziwa rhino sanctuary, a home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda.
A longer but more scenic alternative runs for 135km from Masindi to the park’s Bugungu gate, the route includes a passage to the Budongo forest a memorable descent of the rift valley escarpment with views across Lake Albert towards the mountains of the Congo.
The park can also be accessed via Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates north of the Nile. These are reached from the Kampala-Packwach Road which crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge in the northern corner of the park, 260km from Kampala. These gates are so convenient to visitors travelling to/from Gulu and Kidepo national park.
The park can also be accessed through air from kajansi airstrip and Entebbe airport to Pakuba Airfield (19km from north Paraa), Chobe airfield and Bugungu airfield.
The park has a wide range of game activities like game drives which may offer you a chance to encounter the big cuts, boat cruises to the bottom of the falls and a launch trip to the delta, birding, hiking and nature walks, sport fishing and cultural encounters.
It is still vast in accommodations ranging from low range to almost the most luxurious in the country’s safari lodges. These listed but not limited to, Paraa safari lodge, Chobe safari lodge, Sambiya river lodge, Twiga safari lodge, Pakuba safari lodge, Red chili rest camp, Murchison safari lodge, Budongo eco lodge and many others.