This is the main attraction of the park from which its names after as well as river Nile with crocodiles and hippos at the river banks. The most magnificent view of the water falls is on the top of where the sight and sound of the Nile roaring through a wide. The site which can be reached either by car and a 30 minutes climb or leaving the Paraa launch boat cruise.
The park is also composed of woodland just like other savanna parks in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, wetland, savannah as well as the tropical forest that is well known to be a habitant for different bird species and mammals. Among the mammals, many can be spotted including the lions, hippopotamuses, Rothschild’s giraffe, warthog, Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, Jackson’s-hartebeest and elephants. Game drives take place early in the morning and a tourist is able to see plenty of game. At Nyamsika Cliffs is where one can enjoy a picnic, the view and gaze at elephants and other wildlife on the green grassy hillsides and river below. Game drives are exquisite when accompanied by a tour guide. The best time for game drive is during the dry season.
Murchison Falls National Park Boat Cruise
Murchison Falls national park boat cruise; is an impressive experience with lots of fun and entertainments among other activities done with in the park. In the park boat cruise is done to the bottom of the top of the falls as well as the albert delta boat cruise which is done in two sessions, the morning boat cruise starts at 9:00pm and afternoon boat cruise starts at 2pm.
A lot of visitors come to Murchison falls national with the main aim of seeing the most power fall water. However, that turns out to be the compliment to the terrific boat cruise along the Victoria Nile – River Nile. Since there are two types of boat cruise in Murchison Falls national park as explained below;
The bottom of the falls boat cruise
The bottom of the falls, boat cruise is the most exciting activity as you begin your boat cruise at the starting point, the boat sails near the hippos and the crocodile pool and hippo pool where you can be able to view lots hippos floating on water, water birds like cattle egrets, white egrets among others. It’s quite terrific ride in a midst of the beautiful of the Nile. The ride is more interesting with couple of bottles of cold drinks with the friends.
The boat cruise gives gainful opportunity for you to take beautiful view of Nyamusika cliffs ,nature around and wildlife species such as buffaloes ,elephants ,among others .Then you will be able to cruise near the bottom of the falls with spectacular view of devil’s cauldron though the boat doesn’t get close to the devil’s cauldron ,you will also be able to see Nyamusika cliff rugged with holes formed from the force with which the water droplets hit the ground from the cliff ,thus forming holes to act as home for bird species where you can be able to see numerous bird species in the nearby trees and the better way to see them is by use of binoculars since they are small.
The Albert Delta Launch Cruise
Boat cruise to the Albert delta starts from paraa and the boat slowly sails on the gently flowing Nile waters after losing its power from the falls plunge pull. Then from here the boat cruise sails down the stream where the river splits up to create several floating island of papyrus zones. At the Albert delta its where one can be able to sought after prehistoric shoebill stork. The shoe bills are fishers. Though the floating water vegetation could be a challenge but the hippos come in for help out because the shoe bills tend to follow on the hippo trails and becomes easy for their fishing as their food. The delta boat cruise is quite amazing and terrific referred to as the sun downers trip down stream.
The launch trip upstream from Paraa gives a gainful view of the display of wildlife and memorable frontal view of the astonishing water falls. The launch or boat cruise departs at 9 am and 2 pm daily and takes three hours ride.
However, the boat cruise experience is recommended for bird lovers mostly to those who do a morning cruise downstream to the Nile Lake Albert Delta, along here, you’re able to sight see the elusive shoe bill. It is a four to five-hour return voyage where you can have great chance of seeing variety of wildlife such as hippos, elephants and numerous birds.
You can also be able to enjoy a sundowner boat cruise at around 5:30 pm offering a perfect view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.
What is the cost of boat cruise in Murchison Falls National park?
Boat cruise in Murchison Falls national park goes at USD30 per person which is exclusive of refreshments. However, drinks are also sold on the board at a reasonable fee.
When is the best time to go for the boat cruise?
The best time to do a boat cruise is during dry season which starts in December to February and June to September. Murchison falls is located in the hottest regions of Uganda with the temperature ranges between 25-35 degrees Celsius.
Bird Species commonly seen between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing are; Spotted Mourning Thrush, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Blue-napped Mousebird, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaverBlack-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, and Black-headed Batis, this is the best site for the localised White-rumped Seed-eater.
Common Nocturnal Species in the area include: Verreaux’s owls, Nightjars such as long tailed and Pennat-winged nightjar which usually is watched between the months of March – September. Also available is the amazing standard-winged nightjar watched from November to February. Other bird species include: African Skimmer, White African fish eagle, long-toed plover, Gray Crowned crane, Goliath Heron and more
Tourists get to explore the wild on foot while in Murchison Falls Conservation area. There is a trail at Paraa winds throughout low hills, gullies and forest around the river. Nature walks happen at top of the falls, KaniyoPabidi and Rabongo Forest. Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Centre is located in an island of tropical river forest in the south-east of the conservation area. Savannah grasslands surround the forest. With a tour guide, one can explore primates like the Red tailed monkeys, Black & white colored monkeys, Chimpanzees, birds, trees and medicinal plants. Kanio Pabidi is an serene area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve, where you can walk beneath mature Mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzee tracking is the most famous activity. You certainly see many forest birds, including the Chocolate backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill, and Puvell’s Illadopsis found nowhere else in East Africa! Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi – Paraa road, 8 kms from Kichumbanyobo gate.
The best way to have prime game viewing in the park do it in Buligi Peninsula, a triangle of grass bounded by the Victoria Nile that connect Lake Albert and Albert Nile flowing out if it. Where tourists expect to see species of buffalo, elephants, antelopes and giraffes and keep your eyes open, you might come across lions and leopard if your lucky. There is game track at the Delta point where the Nile flows north out of lake Albert very convenient place to stop for refreshments and view waterbirds offshore and distant hippos.
Visitors can choose to do hot air balloon to explore the plains north and west of Paraa in a hot air balloon.
Heart of Murchison
This area is located in the southern part of Murchison Falls national park covered by bush and forest with a delightful tract of savanna rolls down to the river Nile from the Rabongo road which is centered besides the park. Along here on game track expect to see herds of Uganda kob and other species. Furthermore, the area has turned into a prime location for seeing lions among others.
Visit the top of the falls is worth it because of its powerful falls with splashing waters.
Both birder and nature lovers can simply enjoy short treks beginning from Sambiya River Lodge or Mubako Junction or encounter the hidden treasures on foot along the north bank from Paraa passing the Emmy River. All walks done within the park can take one and a half to two hours.
Sport fishing in Murchison Falls
This is quite rewarding activity with great opportunities to land a large Nile Perch, Cat fish and other caught species
During sport fishing you get a chance to see the biggest edible fish species, the Nile perch, you can also catch other fish like cat fish, tiger fish, electric cat fish, and the most delicacy for the fishermen, tilapia. However, the sport fishing in Murchison falls national park is not regular fishing for food, rather, it is based on a catch and release basis.
In Murchison falls national park, there are a number of fishing spots, you can either choose to fish on boat or besides the Nile (on the river banks) and the park has mainly two fishing spots namely , one near Paraa located below the Murchison falls and the other below the Karuma falls (at Chobe safari lodge)
Spot Fishing in Murchison Falls can be done anytime around the year and the large catfish and Nile perch can be caught all year round. Fisher men credit that best catches are seen early in the morning and late in the day. Though best results of fish are when the water level is low since the water is clearer, and that is during the dry and shadow season from Mid-January to Early-April. And fish feed more when weather conditions vary dramatically especially at the start of the rains.
Chimpanzee tracking is quite an exciting and unforgettable experience done in Budongo forest a home of mahogany tree species, birds and primates. Chimpanzee tracking starts in the morning with a guide who leads you to the tracking trails in search for them, an activity which can lasts 30 to 6 hours depending from where last seen the previous day. Once are located an hour is given to the trackers to observe their way of life in the jungle watch them playing, grooming their younger ones, swinging on the tree branches, feeding among others.
The largest recorded caught Nile perch was weighing 113 kilograms and the largest cat fish was weighing 45 kilograms landed near the Nyamusika cliffs. Tourists are recommended to use ‘’UWA’’ guides Uganda Wildlife Authority who lead them to best fishing spots. Fishing permits are sold at a small fee.
Hot Air Balloons in Murchison Falls National Park
This is the best activity to enjoy the park’s species in aerial view, with bush breakfast sunset very fantastic experience.
During cultural encounter in the park can visit Mubako small craft shop sells carved wooden sculpture and handwoven item made by local community. You will also be entertained by the local cultural groups with vibrant songs and dances around the campfires of local lodges well accompanied by the sweet sounds the adungu
Murchison Falls National Park Distance from Kampala
Distance from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park is not suck long despite the fact it is location in the northern part of Uganda. Of which to many knows that northern Uganda region takes long hours’ drive but just know that Murchison Falls national park is not far away from Uganda’s capital ‘’Kampala’’. The park is easily accessed either by road or by air. By road transport from Kampala, you will use bombo road then connect to Gulu high way pass through Migera, Kafu and Masindi from there drive few kilometers to access the park in about 4 to 5 hours’ drive, we recommend you to use 4x4xwheel drive. Another option, you can choose to fly with domestic flight from Entebbe International Airport to Pakuba airfield within the park.
Facts about Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National park is one of the UNESCO heritage site, managed by ‘UWA’ Uganda Wildlife Authority and was established in 1952 as a national park to protect wildlife species which dwell on vast lowland covering 3840 square kilometers, which is bisected by the worldwide known as river Nile ‘’Victoria Nile’’ in Uganda. The park lies in the north western region of Uganda from the shores of Lake Albert spreading around inland areas around the Victoria Nile and Karuma Falls.
Murchison Falls National Park Birds
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the best stopping areas in Africa to encounter numerous bird species mainly the prehistoric –looking shoebill stork. The best way to encounter birds are almost guaranteed on a boat trip along Victoria Nile towards the Lake Albert delta. However, boat trip is one most popular in fact great for checking off many water associated birds since the park as remarkable checklists that contains more than 450 bird species in total. Of which the migratory birds are always present starting from November to April. Some of water birds to sight while boat trip includes; Cattle egrets, white egrets, African Darter, Silver bird, Black billed Barbet, Martian Eagle, Long tailed Nightjar, Weaver birds, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Senegal thick knee, secretary birds many more.
Despite the fact that, the rare shoe bill stork in Murchison is best see when you take a boat cruise which can be sighted along the banks of the Niles and if you tend to cruise near to the bottom of the falls ,you will be able to spot the highlight of water birds species that can be seen in thickets and woodland around the river banks as well as Nyamusiki cliff a home to variety of birds such as white egret, pied giant malachite, grey heron, lesser flamingos –Verreaux eagle owl –white tailed lack ,Marabou stork ,greater flamingo , African fish eagles francolin, woodpecker, warbler ,ducks ,geese as well as the rare shoe bill stork among others. Birding on boat cruise is one of the most exciting experience for tourists on Uganda safari tours. On your birding tours always add Murchison Falls national park on your checklist itinerary.
List of birdlife to see in Murchison Falls National Park they include the following; Black headed gonolek ,African quail finch ,Abyssinian ground hornbill ,Africa jacana ,Black-billed barbet ,Speckle-fronted weaver ,Squacco heron ,White-browed sparrow weaver ,Shoe bird ,Red-throated bee-eater ,Silver bird ,Swamp flycatcher ,Piapias ,Goliath heron ,Eastern grey plantain eater ,Denham’s bustard , ,Blue headed coucal ,Palm-nut vulture ,Malachite kingfisher ,Giant kingfisher ,Black headed lapwing ,Saddle Thick –Knee ,Red winged Grey Warbler ,Saddle-billed stork, Read-throated Bee eater ,Secretary Bird ,African Jacana ,Pied kingfisher among other. Best spotting area is at, Lake Albert delta, kaniyo pabidi forest Paraa and Red Chill through the dry thorn shrubs
Budongo forest is also home to birding paradise unlike the chimpanzees ,birds of this area can be encountered along guided nature walk .The forest sits on the promises of Murchison Falls national park and it inhabits about 360 species of birds with 2 endemic species including Olive breasted greenbul ,Lemon bellied crombrec ,Little green sunbird ,Crowned eagle ,Grey headed sunbird ,Blue-breasted kingfisher ,Brown twin spot ,Cassin’s hawk eagle ,African dwarf kingfisher ,Black eared ,Blue breasted king fisher, Ituri batis , Chestnut-capped flycatcher ,chocolate-backed kingfisher ,Crested Guinea fowl mentioned but few.
Lake Albert delta
This is also a great location of sight -seeing of various birds on Uganda birding safari in Murchison Falls which can be seen in hiding shrubs and front green vegetation in the water. Birds to see include pied malachite, francolin, grey heron, woodpecker, warblers, duck, geese, woodpecker, King fisher, shoe bill stork, water egrets, grey herons, pied grant malachite’s many more.
Best time for Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
The birding in Murchison Falls is best done from January to March, it can be low tourist season but there is abundance of birding activity. December to February receives the least rain while April to May and August to October the most rain, although the heavy rains might result in delay of spotting time because hiking trails can be slippery as well limiting your birding great moments.
What to Carry on your birding site?
Bird lovers expect to have a birder’s guide book, a pointer, a pair of binocular, sun glasses, sturdy shoes, hats, flash boots, wide brimmed sunglasses, camera, bag pack, pair of binocular and enough mineral water bottle among others.
Where to stay on birding safari Uganda-Murchison Falls National Park
While on a safari in Murchison falls national park, you can sleep in classic accommodation facilities ranging from Luxury to budget the choice depends on tourist wallet such lodges are; Nile safari lodge, Chobe safari lodge, Murchison River lodge, Paraa safari lodge, Parkside safari lodge, Pakuba safari lodge, Geo lodges, Amuka safari lodge, Baker’s lodge, Sambya safari lodge, Murchison tree house among others. They offer quality and comfortable amenities. They all provide memorable views of the beautiful nature.
Visit Murchison Falls national park on your next safari most especially the bird lovers, since it boosts with a wide range of selection of the rare and beautiful bird species thus being one of the top birding places that ranks Uganda to be the best birding destination in the East African countries.
Getting to Murchison Falls National Park
The distance from Kampala to Murchison Falls national park is about 305 kilometers and only 4 to5 hours’ drive from the city center when you use the private transport means. Please take note, a wheel driver ‘’4WD’’ is an ideal option encounter for self -drive to the park, since the road inside Murchison loose surface roads well maintained. Nevertheless, the duration of travel is mostly affected by the nature of the road inside the park.
The distance to the park is also dependent on which part of Murchison you want to visit. Murchison falls national park is bisected by the Victoria Nile thus making north and south. The southern entrance gate connects your way to Paraa Region. You can decide to pass via Kichumbanyobo gate to Paraa through pabidi forest that covers 85 kilometers from Masindi. Option, you can pass via bugungu gate covers 135 kilometers and longer though the scenic view is rewarding and sights through Budongo forest are breathtaking. It also gives a great view of the rift valley escarpment together with the Congo mountain thus making the long ride shorter and gainful with sights.
You can choose to use northern side of the Murchison Falls national park which leads to Chobe safari lodge through Wankwar gate, mubako and tangi gate north of the Nile River. You can still reach the northern gates via Kampala – pakwach road. The pakawach road crosses the Nile at Karuma falls bridge. Karuma falls where Uganda’s best power station is constructed that supplies electricity to certain places in Uganda.
The northern side is 260 kilometers from Kampala and it over flocks with visitors travelling from and to Gulu or traveling from Kidepo Valley national park.
Murchison can also be reached by air transport, meaning the easiest and shortest means of transport ever to access the park through Pakuba air field which is 19kilometers from the north of paraa, that is in the southern part of the park.
Then northern park is also outreached through chobe air field to the east of Murchison falls national park and bugungu near the falls in the southern side of the park. Both charter and scheduled aircraft are available at Entebbe International airport or Kajjansi which is located 46 kilometers away from Kampala.
All you need to start booking in advance with domestic flight by the help of tour operator, airlines to book include Aero link, eagle air and others. All the bookings are handled by help of the tour operator while on Uganda Safari –Uganda Safari Plans.