Uganda’s largest National Park acts as a conservation area to untamed wilderness and savannahs, split through the middle by the dramatic river Nile.
Murchinson Falls is the name that was given to the point at which the world’s longest river, the river Nile, is channeled through a narrow gorge within the Rift Valley, descending almost 50 metres below. Sir Roderick Murchison (1851–1853), was President of the Royal Geographical Society, which was the catalyst for many explorations within ‘colonial’ Africa, most notably the search for the source of the river Nile.
Wildlife populations have largely recovered from the poaching during the Idi Amin era of the 1980s. Together with the adjacent 748 square kilometres (289 sq mi) Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720 square kilometres (280 sq mi) Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the entire area is known as the Murchison Falls conservation area.
The park is sometimes referred to as Kabarega National Park. Kabarega was the Omukama of the Kingdom of Bunyoro, around the end of the 19th century. He resisted colonization by the British, was arrested and was exiled by the British to the island nation of the Seychelles. Kabarega died in Jinja, in 1923 en-route to Bunyoro from exile.
Murchison is Uganda’s only National Park which has all “big five”. Buffalos, elephants, lions, leopards are best to be seen in the northern part (above the Nile). Rhinos were sadly extinguished but are now being bred again in the rhino sanctuary south of the park; 40 to 50 rhinos are planned to be released into the wild in approx. 30 years.
Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls is among Uganda’s best birding spots with over 451 bird species which include; Albertine rift endemic birds, water birds, and savannah birds. Viewing birds in the scenic landscape and amazing wildlife of Murchison is among the most interesting experiences while on a Ugandan safari. The park is located in the Northwestern part of the country about 305 km from Kampala hence approximately a 4 hours drive by road.
There are very many birds in the park of which some are rare, common, and occasional such as the Gray crowned crane(Uganda’s National bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Nightjars, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Back-bellied Bustard among others.
Birds in Murchison can be best spotted while on a game drive, nature walks through the savannah grasslands and on the boat cruise along the Nile and on Lake Albert Delta. Birds like the blue napped mouse birds, silver birds, weavers among others can be spotted near Paraa and Red chilli in through the dry thorn-shrubs. Nocturnal birds like the nightjars can be seen along the Paraa road and while on the boat on the Nile.
Murchison falls can be reached by a number of routes by road.
The main entry point into the country is Entebbe International airport, found about 26km from the Uganda Capital, Kampala. Murchison Falls National Park is a 5 hours drive from Kampala.
There are public transport buses, that go up to Masindi which is the nearest town to park, from there you can hire a car to take you all the way to the park.
There are a couple of charter flights available; information about these can be acquired from your tour operator. There are a few air strips near the park that accommodate chartered flights these include Pakuba, Chobe, and Bugungu airstrips.
Accommodation ranges from campsites, lodges, hotels and guesthouse. Some of these are built on top of the falls. They have better facilities that are eco-friendly. Budget accommodation is also available for the budget travelers and the most suitable places include Kaniyo Pabidi Camp and Red Chilli Rest Camp. Tourists that love up market accommodation include Nile safari camp, Paraa safari lodges as well as Sambiya river. In case you want to stop in Masindi, there is luxury accommodation such as Masindi Hotel along with Court view hotels that have excellent services.