Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison falls national park is the biggest national park in the northwest of Uganda, and one of the natural wonders found in Uganda. The name Murchison was given by Sir Samuel baker during his expeditions in the 19th century. Murchison falls national park was established in 1952, located in the north western part of Uganda but spreading further inland from the shores of Lake Albert, around the Victoria Nile and up to the karuma falls. The park occupies a total area of 3893km2 (1503 sq. ml). This is 289 sq. mi of Bugungu wildlife reserve and 280 sq. mi of karuma wildlife reserve form all together the Murchison falls conservation area. The park is also bisected by the Victoria Nile from east to west for a distance of about 115 kilometers.
One of the most outstanding attractions in the park is Murchison falls. It is sometimes compared to the waterfalls found in Canada’s Nahanni national park although Murchison is magnificent. The park is in the location of Murchison falls with its water flowing through the narrow gorge. The gorge is only 7 meters width before plunging 43 meters. As the largest national park, the park has almost all of Africa’s major mammals.
The park is a lion conservation unit and has the largest populations of Roskilde Giraffes in Africa of over 1,500 giraffes. Murchison falls conservation center and the adjacent Budongo forest have a total number of 76 mammal species. Also, there is Uganda’s largest Nile crocodiles’ population. The bird life in the park is massive as the park has a total number of 450 recorded bird species including the rare shoe-billed stork, great blue turaco, goliath heron, white thighed hornbill and dwarf kingfisher.
The park is not only the most visited spots in Uganda but in the entire African continent. An adventure in east Africa calls for a trip to Murchison falls for an exceptional ad memorable experience. Besides its wildlife, the park consists of vast savannah grasslands and great forest like Budongo where chimp tracking is common. There is plenty to keep you busy during your visit to Murchison falls national park where you can further enjoy seeing the white rhinos at the ziwa rhino sanctuary which is close to the park.
Accessing the park.
Murchison falls national park is just a 5 hours’ drive by road using the Kampala- Masindi route or Kampala- karuma – Pakwach route. From Entebbe international airport, you can either stay overnight in Kampala or take a ride to the park depending on the time your flight arrives. Alternatively, you can access Murchison falls from its airstrips within the national park such as Pakuba airfield and Bugungu airstrip. There are domestic and Charter flights available to this national park which are organized by aero link and Fly Uganda.
Visiting Murchison falls
There are two options for viewing the falls, first is on a boat safari which will take you as close as possible to the falls from below and the other is making your way up to the falls where you will see the water at the top making its way down. Those planning to take a boat to the falls have an opportunity of viewing the falls at its best, you will hear the roar of the water pouring down however, those watching the falls at the top will get a chance to hike at the top of the falls for 45 minutes, the best way to bond with nature through the forest. You can view the falls from both the angles since each one offers an entirely unique experience.
Viewing wildlife can be enjoyed during the game drives in the delta, the southern sector and buligi peninsular. The delta has the biggest chances of seeing lions prey as they go drink water. Buligi peninsular which is a triangle of grass land has plenty of animals like elephants, antelopes, buffalos, giraffes among others. For the southern part of Murchison falls national park which is the heart of Murchison has bush and forest. There is a delightful tract of savanna rolls down to the river from the Rabongo road in the very center of the park. Animals like Uganda kobs, elephants, lions, hippos, hartebeest, Nile crocodiles, hippos among others are also on the river banks of the Nile.
These are launch trips upstream from Paraa which is available for birders. The boat safari gives an opportunity to a tourist to view an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the falls. This can be in the morning, afternoon and evening. The evening boat cruises are a tranquil sundowner boat cruise at 5:30pm offering a classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river, this is one of the most beautiful experiences you will have in Murchison falls national park.
Birding in Murchison falls national park.
Murchison falls national park presents a peasant opportunity to the bird lovers. These can either arrange a full day birding experience or take birding to another level as you enjoy a game drive or a boat/launch trip. The park has a number of beautiful bird species including savannah forest birds, albertine rift endemic birds and water birds. The park’s main attraction is the shoebill usually in the dry season from January to March.
Other bird species in the plains and the parks include; Some bird species include; the kingfisher, shoebill stork, herons, African fish eagle, saddle-billed stock, African skimmer, hornbills, egrets crowned crane, hornbills, the goliath Heron, African quail-finch, whit-browned sparrow weaver, swamp flycatcher, red-throat Bee eater, silver bird, African Jacana, Abyssinian ground-hornbill, Denham’s bustard, sandpipers, eastern grey plantain-eater and black billed barbet among others.
Primate viewing in Murchison falls national park is one of the famous activities in Budongo forest reserve and in Kaniyo Pabidi area. The park has different numbers of primates with chimpanzees as the mainly trekked primates, there are 800 chimpanzees, olive baboon, black and white Colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, and many other primates.
Budongo forest boosts of diversity of wildlife with 24 mammals, 287 butterfly species, 460 tree species, and about 360 bird species. You will also have different primate opportunities such as chimpanzees, black and white monkeys among others. Also, you will explore the royal mile which is a road stretch displaying tree species and popular for bird watching opportunities. You need to first secure a permit to trek the chimps. These are one of the famous species that they trek in Budongo forest reserve. It is inside Murchison forest national park.
The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park.
The park is open throughout the year for visitors with two seasons; dry and rainy season. The two seasons have different opportunities they give. The low seasons bring a lot of birds in the park, during this time, the birds are very active and in their bleeding season, most of these are escaping harsh winters in Europe however, the time isn’t good for wildlife viewing because of the heavy rains. The dry/peak seasons are very crowdy and provide the best wildlife viewing opportunities since most of the animals are around the small water sources remaining.
Therefore; the best time to visit Murchison falls national park is from December to February since the weather is mild during this time of the year. The other time of the year is from June to September, the peak season of the year. However, the park will be crowdy during this time of the year. Alternatively, you can also visit the park during the low seasons since it’s rainy during this time. This is from the months of March to May and October to November.
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