Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment merges into a vast, palm-dotted savannah. Gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and elevated to park status in 1952, it is Uganda’s oldest protected areas. It is also the largest. Combined with the contiguous Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves, it covers 5072km, home to 76 species of mammals and over 451 bird species.
The Victoria Nile bisects the national park, racing westwards for 80km over a series of rapids before exploding through a narrow (6m) gap in the remnant rift valley cliffs. This 45m plunge drains the last of the river’s energy transforming the torrent into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor towards Lake Albert.
The river below the Falls provides one of Uganda’s finest wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbank include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes, while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
What to Do:
- Bird watching – Birding activities overlap with the wildlife viewing
- Delta boat cruises – Boats run downriver from Paraa to the Nile Delta
- Nature walks – primarily done in Kaniyo Pabidi and Robongo forest.
- Game drive – The park’s prime game viewing area lies on the Buligi Peninsula, a triangle of grassland bounded by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert and the Albert Nile.
- Cultural encounters – Energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk.
- Sportfishing – the river below Murchison Falls provides an exciting challenge for anglers with the record for Nile perch landed with rod and line standing at a hefty 108kg.
- Air Pakuba Airfield, 19km from North Paraa, can be reached using chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield near Kampala.
- Southern Entrance Gates, which is 305km from Kampala, takes four to five hours to the southern entrance gate. The Kampala-Pakwach road crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls in the north-eastern corner of the park, 260kms from Kampala.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit is during the dry seasons, from December to late February and June to September. The animals congregate around water bodies, making them easier to observe. The best time for bird watching is January-March, which has plenty of bird activity with fewer tourists.