Murchison Falls National Park has an abundance of wildlife, and is one of the most popular safari destinations in the country. Game drives, boat safaris, hiking, chimp trekking. Murchison Falls provides unforgettable experiences.
Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest national park, and it feels like one of its wildest. Its dramatic centrepiece is the eponymous waterfall, created where the River Nile crashes through an 8m-wide gap in the rock in a sensation of spray and roaring rapids. Take cruises downriver to spot huge elephant herds, game drives across the plains to track lions and buffalo, and walks though the nearby Budongo Forest to spot monkeys and chimps frolicking in the canopy.
Named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, which were christened by Sir Samuel Baker; Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is the country’s largest protected wildlife sanctuary. A wonderful tapestry of natural landscapes awaits visitors to the park. Here, the mighty Nile River bisects flourishing savannahs, flanked by lush riverine woodlands, before bursting through a chasm in the Rift Valley escarpment to form the raging Murchison Falls. Wildlife enthusiasts can expect to see great pods of hippo and immense rafts of crocodile in-and-around the Nile as well as an array of exceptional water birds. Other fascinating wildlife include the rare Rothschild giraffe, lion, various antelope species, buffalo, leopard and spotted hyena.
Murchison Falls National Park: The Experience
Uganda’s largest park, the wild and beautiful Murchison Falls National Park offers breath taking scenery of palm-dotted hills, swamps, riverine woodland and forest, East Africa’s most dramatic waterfall, and a remarkable diversity of wildlife on land and in the Victoria Nile, which teems with hippos and crocodiles. The park is home to large herds of buffalo and elephant and a good concentration of lion as well as leopard and several antelope species from grey duiker and Ugandan kob to oribi and Jackson’s hartebeest. It’s one of the few places in Uganda where you can find giraffe, and on the plains you may be able to spot the rare ground-dwelling patas monkey. Birding is excellent, and the top highlight is a sighting of the endangered shoebill stork, a rare creature that sits at the top of many birders’ wish list. You’re most likely to see them between January and March on the Delta cruise boat ride.
The park is bisected by the River Nile, which picks up momentum as it crashes over rocks until it reaches its dramatic crescendo – jamming itself through an 8m-wide gap in the stone to create the magnificent waterfall that gives the park its name. From here, the waters widen into a smooth, even flow. Gentle cruises up this lower stretch of the river take you past huge herds of grazing buffalo and elephants, while storks and crocs jostle for space at the water’s edge. You’ll pause a little distance from the base of the falls, whose sheer power transforms it from a cascade of water into a cloud of spray.
Murchison Falls National Park: Birdlife
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the best places in Africa to find the prehistoric-looking shoebill stork. Sightings of this bird are almost guaranteed on a boat trip on the Victoria Nile towards the Lake Albert delta. This boat trip, as well as the more popular ‘launch’ trip towards Murchison Falls, are, in fact, great for checking off many water-associated birds. The park’s impressive checklist contains more than 450 species in total. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
The birdlife in Murchison Falls is good year-round, but at its best from January to March. This is the low tourist season, but there is plenty of bird activity. December to February has the least rain, while April to May and August to October have the most rain. The heavy rains might result in delays due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails and can limit your bird-watching time. Migratory birds are present from November to April.