The 3893km2 Murchison Falls National Park forms the core of Uganda’s largest protected area. Together with the adjoining Bungungu and Karumu wildlife reserves, it forms a vast wilderness covering 5072km2 and containing a wide variety of wildlife including big game, forest primates and 450 bird species. The mighty Nile, the longest river in the world, flows through the heart of the park for a distance of 120km, on its 6500km journey from Lake Victoria to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The park’s centrepiece is the explosive, 40m high Murchison Falls where the Nile is forced through a 6m gap in the rift valley escarpment. However the treasures of Murchison falls national park is not only limited to the mighty falls, the park offers many Unique experiences for the discerning traveller.
Paraa Launch Trip – Murchison Falls(2-3 hours). The cruise upriver from Paraa, on the South bank, to view Murchison Falls at the head of the Fajao Gorge has been the park’s most popular attraction since the 1950s.There are scheduled trip every afternoon and alternatively on demand on an exclusive basis. An excellent opportunity for viewing the large resident populations of hippos and crocodiles, as well as other wildlife and extensive birdlife, including a wide range of water birds, and a huge colony of cliff-nesting red throated bee eaters, along the way.
Nile delta cruises (4-5 hours). The Victoria Nile delta, a 20km voyage downstream from Paraa, is home to rare wetland birds including shoebill and papyrus endemic species. Scheduled delta area cruises with a breakfast on board option are offered on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and Sunday at 07.00am.
Nile Perch Fishing (Half, full and multiple day excursions). The mighty Nile River at Murchison is famous for its exciting sport fishing. Large, strong Nile Perch living in the turbulent waters below the Falls as well as several species of cat fish are fished and a variety of smaller species which are generally used as live bait for the larger fish. Fishing can be done from the shore or from boats which are ideally sized and equipped to cope with the conditions and accessing the remote riverside pools. Experienced guides travel with you on the river at all times to ensure you have the best opportunities for success, be for a day or over several days.
Sunset and Sundowner cruises (1-2 hours). As the heat disappears from the day, you can visit the hippos and crocodiles near the Nyamsika sandbar or downstream amongst the small reed islands. Enjoy the sunset whilst enjoying snacks and an evening drink of your choice.
Sunrise with the hippos(1-2 hours) – an early start to see the riverside world come to life with the option for freshly brewed coffee and home-style breakfast on board.
Cruise and Safari. Your park experience can be enhanced by combining river voyages with pre-arranged vehicle pickups. Travel by boat to the delta and return to Paraa with a game drive through the game-rich Buligi area. Or leave your boat in Fajao Gorge and climb to the Top of the Falls for the view down into the thunderous chasm, before returning to Paraa by vehicle.
Chimpanzee tracking and Habituation Experience: Tracking a troop of habituated chimps in an undisturbed area of Kaniyo Pabidi Forest is an experience you cannot miss while visiting this park. The trek takes three to four hours and is limited to a small group of visitors, spending a maximum of one hour watching the chimps eat, play and interact. Full-day chimp habituation experiences are also available for those who want to learn more about the habituation process and the fascinating behavior of our closest relatives.
Big Game:This Park is home to 76 species of mammals including four of the “Big Five”, with huge herds of buffaloes and elephants, well-camouflaged leopards and a healthy population of lions. It is also known for its giraffes; in Uganda these can only be viewed here and in Kidepo Valley. Other species viewed regularly along the game tracks include Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other, visiting wildlife are found along the river.
Game drive:A game drive around the Buligi game tracks on the northern bank with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile Valley. Visitors can marvel at herds of buffalos, dozens of elephants, warthogs and towering giraffes, along with bushbucks, reedbuck, duikers, kobs, oribi and the unusual-looking hartebeest. Your guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding, and you may even spot a leopard at dusk!
Unique bird species:Both the game drives and the launch trips offer an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife, including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s main birding attraction is the Shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March.
Hikes and Nature walks: The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls National Park and the surrounding Conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offer possible Shoebill sightings.
Cultural Encounters: Energeticdancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community.
Murchison falls national park offers a range of accommodations of different standards and prices, relatively low priced and good accommodation are available at the Red chili Rest Camp, Budongo EcoLodge and Budget Bandas at Sambiya River Lodge. The park also contains high quality accommodations at Chobe Lodge, Paraa Lodge, Nile River Lodge, Pakuba Lodge and Bwana Tembo Camp.
So if you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience on an African safari in Uganda, add Murchison falls national park on your travel destination.