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Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is the largest of National Parks, one can say literally, that a river runs through it and that river is the Nile River. The name "Murchison" Falls was given to us by Sir Samuel White Baker, (June 8 1821 – December 30 1893) a British explorer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer and also served as the Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile Basin (today's South Sudan and Northern Uganda) between Apr. 1869 - Aug. 1873. Baker named them after Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Royal Geographical Society. The falls lend their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park.
The Park was started under the colonial rule by the British in 1952. When Idi Amin (the former Ugandan dictator and self-styled "Conqueror of the British Empire") came along in the 1970s, he had a way of removing any British name reference and renamed the Falls "Kabarega", after the Omukama (King)Kabarega of Bunyoro. But this was never legally promulgated and the name reverted to Murchison Falls following his 1979 downfall..
When the Lord's Resistance Army caused havoc in the North including at Murchison Falls Park. Some countries listed Murchison Falls Park as an area that is dangerous and that is true in the past, but for the last 9 years there has been peace in the north and that peace has also meant that Murchison Falls is now a safe place to visit since there has been no rebel activity since 2005. - LRA used to be in South Sudan, at times in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central Republic of Africa. No safari company would put clients into an unsafe area and the thousands who visit Murchison Falls Park can attest to that.
Safari drives are one of the highlights for most travellers visiting Murchison Park and they are surely very enjoyable. You can go with or without a Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger, but it is more enjoyable when you have one on board. They certainly understand the locations of animals and where they can usually be found and also know the names of the various birds found in the park. On a safari drive in Murchison Falls Park, you can see an abundance of wildlife such as large herds of buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, lions, elusive leopard - at times, Spotted Hyenas, Warthogs and many antelopes, such as Jackson’s hartebeest, Bushbucks, Uganda Kob, Waterbucks, and much so more. Murchison Falls Park is simply a great place to explore especially if you have few days - it gives you the a chance to see so much in a very short time. Game Drives are last 2½ - 3 hours in length but you have the option to either keep it shorter if you are on a family safari with small children or do longer ones as long as you entry permit is still valid. Unlike in other African Park, the distance to the Game Drives is quite reasonable.
Boat trips to the bottom of the river are onether highlights of for many visitors to this Park. This is a fantastic 3 hour boat ride, there are several boats used and the best one is the one with a top deck where you can stand and take pictures of the animals - the boat will slow down when the pilots sees some interesting wildlife on the banks.
Wildlife viewing opportunities are exceptional - More hippos than you can count, the Nile Crocodiles mouths wide open sunning themselves along the banks. Murchison Falls has some of the giant Nile crocodiles in all of Africa. Elephants on shore, not just one or two but entire family groups, Buffaloes in numbers, various species of antelopes and many water birds, one cannot imagine the scenic shoreline you will see on the Nile boat safari. Then there is of course the bottom of the falls, the sounds are overwhelming coming from the power of the water rushing down. You can take a boat up the River to the Falls themselves - disembark at the bottom of the falls and hike up. You can also take a trip down the river which is a must for birders – an area where you most often find the elusive shoebill stork.
Murchison falls - the world’s most powerful waterfall along River Nile is a true master piece of nature! In a small space a million cubic meters of water from the Nile squeeze themselves through the Albertine gorge as they make their way 6,853 km (4,258 miles) towards Egypt.
Many people wonder how the scenic falls would actually be, but once you are on top of them and see the entire Nile going through a small gap - it make sense why so many visitors make the trip. The Nile River is about 50 meters wide on top just before the falls, it drops down 43 meters through a 7 meter wide gorge. The journey to the Murchison park is a long one but once you reach this place, it becomes worth it. The thunderous spectacle and noise made by the water as it passes through the tiny hole is magnificent – one not to be missed by anyone because no better words can explain the display.
A boat cruise up the river Victoria Nile takes you to the base of the trail leading to the top of the Murchison Falls. The vehicle in which one is travelling crosses the river by the ferry system and meets one at the end of the hike. You can see the Falls by reaching the end of the hiking trail by car, however, it is not as exciting as walking the trail. The hike slowly unfolds the three Falls. From the boat only two Falls can be seen. The third one is visible only during the course of the hike.
The entire walk takes about an hour or less (depending on the fitness of the concerned person), is divided into three stages and is not too difficult. The climb may be tiring but has a well defined trail and certain portion of the trail has hand rails also. Descending however requires to be negotiated with care as the path is quite slippery. If you walk to the last viewing point and look back at the falls, there is a a rainbow that does not disappear.
And you can find a cave in the wall where bats come out at nighttime and during the day time you can find various raptors and swallows. You might run into some baboons along your walk but that is about it.
Light clothes, a good pair of shoes suitable for this hike and sufficient water supply is suggested.
While driving in 4X4s on safaris is an exciting way to find and photograph wildlife, the view from above is completely different and spectacular. Balloon rides here are organized by Dream Balloons Uganda – a very friendly and professional team who actually promise you a smooth, safe ride in a floating basket in the air, with no bumps, scares or acrobatics.
You can enjoy the unique experience of flying in a hot air balloon with one of the following options - only available at Murchison Falls National Park:
For the Sunrise air balloon safari, you meet you guide - 5:45am at the Paraa Safari Lodge who picks you up then drive for about 20 minutes to the launch site which is an open landscape where you are met by the pilot and his helpers who inflate your new mode of transport.
Once it’s launched, you then just float above the tree line for the about 1 - 1½ hrs. The duration of your trip, what you see and where you end up is very much down to luck as well, as it is entirely dependent on wind speed and direction. The cost is $380 - by far the cheapest amongst most of the countries that charge up to $650 for the 50-60 min flight, and the main reason is the cost of fuel used, just like a 50 min jet ride would cost almost the same price worldwide.
You get amazing views of the savanna park, and get to look down of herds of animals running across the plains. Of course, what you see is very much down to luck!
Visitors however need to remember that balloons have limited maneuvering options, heavily dependent on winds. If the wind is blowing a certain direction, that is where the balloon will go.
Also, Please note that Pilots are not tour guides, they are professional trained hot air balloon operators whose main concern is your safety, no different from airplanes.
The hot air balloon safari is topped off by a bush breakfast which is expertly prepared and laid out by the Paraa Safari Lodge team on a panoramic camp site.
The Victoria Nile delta is a 20km voyage downstream from Paraa area. Few visitors take this boat ride down the Nile to the Nile Delta, where the Nile River merges into Lake Albert. Also, it is home to rare wetland birds including shoebill and papyrus endemic species. You see a lot of wildlife; hippos, crocodiles you will see on this boat safari down the River Nile to where it drains into Lake Albert and where it is commonly referred to as the Nile Delta. This Boat Safari is a must for Birders and for those that want to see the Shoebill Stork in the Wild.
Scheduled delta area cruises with a “breakfast on board” option are offered in the mornings (subject to minimum numbers) departing from the jetty at Paraa area on the South Bank at 07.00am. Private boat trips can also be arranged to suit timing. This trip takes 4-5 hours - ½-day activity and cost $55 with a minimum of 4 participants.
Most visitors come to this place for primarily chimpanzees trekking and or bird watching, but the huge mahogany trees are also worth a look - besides, there is more to do and see here, especially if you enjoy hiking. It’s a great add-on to your Murchison Falls National Park visit, with your park permit allowing you entry to Budongo too.
There is one lodge – the Budongo Eco Lodge inside this Forest reserve and we organize all activities through them making it easy to go on a Chimpanzee Trek first thing in the morning.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is about 3-hour drive from Kampala, nearly halfway to Murchison Falls Park.
The Sanctuary is home to thirty one southern white rhinos (August 2020). The highlight here is of course rhino tracking but there is a lot more to the Sanctuary than most people realize. The large Sanctuary is not only home to the endangered Rhinoceros but its vast wetlands are a place that birders do not want to miss.The sanctuary is home to at least 40 mammal and reptilian species including leopards, monkeys, antelopes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, bushbucks and oribis among others - numerous bird species including the elusive and ancient looking Shoebill Stork. Visiting the and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary means you can score the Big Five in Uganda.
Fishing can be arranged with a boat, or you can fish from the river bank, many 200 pound Nile Perch has been caught here. It is best to bring your own tackle, a fishing license must be bought. Sport fishing is more convenient in the river sections above and below the falls. Normally the number of people carrying out spot fishing has to be regulated on the different designated spots and this requires advance booking is necessary.
Experienced guiding is necessary and available - Guides are available to lead you to the best fishing spots, however, Wildfrontiers operates a fishing concession at Murchison falls National Park and they can be contacted privately. A fishing permit is required and currently (June 2020) is at $50 per day or $150 for four days. Park entrance fees are paid separate.
The remote community of Mubako is located beside the sprawling savannah of Murchison Falls National Park. The village is a cluster of traditional thatched huts around a clearing, where villagers gather to escape the midday sun under the shade of a large tree.
Mubako’s small craft shop sells carved wooden sculptures and handwoven items made by community members. At dusk, the local cultural groups perform vibrant songs and dances around the campfires of local lodges, accompanied by the beautiful sound of the adungu. Originating from this region, this instrument is made of cowhide and twine, and the harmonies of the various-sized adungus against the backdrop of a Nile sunset are magical.
There are few economic opportunities in this region and the climate makes farming hard, but with the money generated through tourism, the community can buy produce from local markets, pay school fees and support a nursery for 90 children.
The subsistence farmers from the villages of Kihaguzi and Kigaragara in Uganda’s dry northern region had little produce left over to sell, so in 1999 the Boomu Women´s Group was formed, with the aim of reducing poverty and malnutrition, and providing an income for the members to be able to pay their children´s school fees. What began as a craft group has evolved into a wonderful community tourism project, with traditional accommodation, a restaurant, unique guided tours and a well-tended garden.
The scenic village tour reveals the features of everyday rural life, as well as explaining the hardships facing the community. Your guide will show you various crops as well as taking you to visit the village blacksmith. Storytellers share tales about customs and the local way of life, and a visit to the nursery, a cooking demonstration or a basket weaving class can be arranged on request.
Rabongo Forest Walk: This is mainly for birders and a forest walk with ranger can be arranged and it is on the other side of the Nile from Paraa Lodge. You will also see various kinds of monkeys on this walk.
Suggestions: if you are working on limited time for your trip - it might be difficult to include Murchison in your Uganda itinerary. But it might be worthwhile to include it by adding at least a couple of days to the your trip.
Choices of accommodations here range from budget to Luxury.
Budget options: Red Chili Camp, Fort Murchison Lodge Tents, Heritage Lodge,
Moderate-range: Pakuba Safari Lodge, Fort Murchison Lodge and Murchison River Lodge.
Luxury range – Paraa Safari Lodge and Bakers Lodge. We will work with your lodging choices when creating a safari for you and consider your budget choices. Explore Murchison Falls National Park accommodations >>