Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors to the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and several British royals.
Park at a Glance
Murchison Falls became one of Uganda’s first national parks in 1952
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 northern section of the park contains savanna and borassus palms, acacia trees and riverine woodland. The south is dominated by woodland and forest patches
The 1951 film “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart was filmed on Lake Albert and the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.
The following are activities carried out in Murchison falls national park, the activities below are very exciting and interesting for one not to miss in this park,
Top of the falls:
The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls national parks 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.
There are three dramatic view points of the 40m high waterfall. The most convenient is the top of the falls where the Nile thunders through a narrow canyon just six meters wide. Fifteen minutes climb will take you to Baker’s point which enjoys a frontal view of the Nile churning through the gorge. A secondary waterfall, Uhuru falls can also be seen. The third option is to climb down into the gorge from Baker’s point to the Devil’s cauldron the turbulent pool at the base of the waterfalls.
Launch trips on the Nile
A highlight of any visit to Murchison falls conservation Area is the launch trip to view the magnificent Murchison falls. Trips normally depart at 9:00am and 2:00pm. Hippos and crocodiles are abundant and one is able to see plenty of game and bird life. The voyage takes about three hours. The launch trip upstream from paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the falls .Birders are recommended for a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Alternatively, a tranquil sundowner cruise offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.
The most rewarding times for game drives are the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. Agame drive through the scenic Buligi game tracks on the Northern with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the Nile valley area West of paraa to the Delta point where the victoria Nile passes through the Northern trip of lake Albert to become the Albert Nile which takes around three hours. Expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribi,with luck lion and a leopard. The guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding and you may even spot leopard at dusk. Morning game drives start at 7am. Breakfast can be taken beforehand at 6.30am or after wards at around 10am. Evening game drives start at 4pm. With prior notice, the lodges where clients or visitors stay can be able to book a UWA ranger guide to accompany visitors and help spot game.
Murchison falls conservation Area is a birder watchers paradise with 451 bird species including the rare and remarkable shoebill. Both game drives and 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.
The Murchison Nile offers world class fishing such as the famous Nile perch and abundance of Cat fish-a record breaking 108 kg Nile perch was landed near the foot of the falls in 2002. The banks of the Nile below Murchison falls provide exciting challenges to anglers. Living within strong currents and highly oxygenated water is the Nile perch. Fishing permits can be obtained from the UWA park office in South paraa. Limited fishing gears are binoculars are normally available for rent at the lodges.
Hiking and Nature walks
The wilds of Murchison falls conservation Area can be explored on foot as well as by Vehicle. The vast landscapes can be varied scenery of Murchison falls National park and the surrounding conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo pabidi and Rabongo Forest provide sightings of many primates , birds and plants can be closely and quietly observed. Nature walks are also available Rabongo forest, the top of the falls and kaniyo pabidi forest. Around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offers a possibility to provide sightings for shoebill. UWA ranger guides must be hired for these nature walks to provide information about different species spotted and also to answer questions incase visitors ask any question.
The community has got energetic dancers from Mubako performing around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop which is normally open at 8am to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm daily . The shop sells local East African crafts and souvenirs, guide books, clothing and safari essentials. Cultural encounters give an opportunity to reveal and experience village tours which are the realities of life in the community.
Rabongo forest is an island of tropical riverine forest set in a sea of grassland in the South-east of the conservation area, 1 and half hours drive from the lodge. The forest can be explored on foot in search of primates such as Black—white Colobus, Red tailed monkeys, baboons and occasionally Chimpanzees plus plenty of birds, medical plants and trees. Normally a uwa ranger guide accompans those that enjoy nature walks.
Kaniyo Pabidi forest 8kms from Kicumbanyobo gate on Masindi paraa road or 56kms from paraa safari Lodge is a beautiful tract of natural forest dominated by giant mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzees can be tracked from Kaniyo pabidi tourism site which is run by the Jane Goodall institute, the famous chimpanzee conservation organization. Birdlife abounds including the chocolate-backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill and puvel’s illaposis which is found nowhere else in East Africa.
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