- Largest and oldest national park gazetted in 1952 covering 3,480 sq km in the northern part of the Albertine rift valley.
- Park is split in half by the Victoria Nile.
- At Murchison Falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron”, creating a trademark rainbow.
- The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.
- Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian and several British royals.
- To do list: Murchison falls, Game drives, Boat cruise to bottom of the falls, Bird watching, Nature walks, Sport Fishing.
Murchison Falls along the River Nile is the main attraction of the park from which it is named. The park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. The park hosts 76 mammal and 451 bird species respectively. Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m through a narrow gorge, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park marking the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. From the falls, the placid river whose banks team with wildlife flows across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian and several British royals.
Murchison Falls National Park is composed of woodland, wetland, savannah as well as tropical forest. This varied habitat is home to a variety of creatures. Among the mammals are: lions, hippopotamuses, Rothschild’s giraffe, warthog, Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, Jackson’s hartebeest and elephants.
A boat cruise to the bottom of Murchison Falls is another rewarding experience to view wildlife and birds. Hippos, waterbucks, crocodiles, buffaloes and elephants can be seen along the banks of the Nile. Birds usually seen during the cruise include: Cormorants, African fish Eagles, Spur-winged goose, African darter, Giant Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Water thick knee among the many. For more scenic views, its a rewarding experience to leave the boat at the bottom of the falls and hike for 30 minutes to the top of Murchison Falls. The reward is watching and photographing the sun set over the falls.
Arrangements can be made for a 28km boat cruises from Paraa to the Delta where the Nile pours its contents in Lavke Albert. Along the way, many water birds including the biggest Heron in the world- Goliath can be sighted. The delta is also home to the Shoebill Stork. The trip takes 4-5hours.
The river section at the bottom of Murchison Falls is regarded by some anglers as one of the best fishing spots in the world. Do bring your own fishing equipment if you’re interested in finishing. Examples of fish available in the river are Nile perch, Catfish, Tilapia and more. Please note that you will need a sport fishing permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The varied habitats of Murchison Falls National Park make it home to a variety of birds. The park has 451 bird species recorded. The list includes the Shoebill Stork which can be easily found around the Delta. The Goliath Heron – the largest heron in the world and the Grey Crowned Cranes – Uganda’s national bird. Others are: the Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Piapiac, Silverbird, Weaver Birds, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and African Quail-Finch. 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-weaver, Black-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 present Standard-winged nightjar seen from November to February. Other bird species include: African Skimmer, White African fish eagle and long-toed plover.
Tourists get to explore the wild on foot while in Murchison Falls Conservation area using various trails. The trail from Paraa winds throughout low hills, gullies and forest around the river. Nature walks are also done at top of the falls, Kaniyo Pabidi 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. Kanio Pabidi is a serene area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve. , where you can walk beneath mature Mahogany and ironwood trees amid a mix of birds’ songs like the Chocolate backed Kingfisher, 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.
People and Culture
Dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires while Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours.
South routes: Kampala – Masindi is 4 hour drive (305km). Masindi-Paraa through Kichumbanyobo Gate via Kaniyo Pabidi Forest to Paraa (85km). Masindi – Bugungu gate through Budongo Forest and descent of the rift valley escarpment with views across Lake Albert towards the mountains of the Congo-135km
Northern route: Kampala-Pakwach Road crossing the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge in the northeastern corner of the park Via Chobe, Wankwar, and Tangi Gates – 260km. This convenient for visitor travelling to/from Gulu town and Kidepo Valley National Park.
Pakuba Airfield, 19km from North Paraa, can be reached using chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield near Kampala. Other airfields in the park include: Chobe to the east, and Bugungu to the south.