About Murchison National Park
Murchison Falls Conservation Area ( MFCA ) comprises of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves. This is where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river whose banks are thronged with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. The vegetation is characterised by savannah, riverine forest and woodland. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species. Sample 3 day Murchison Falls Safari
The Murchison Falls, also referred to as the Kabarega Falls, is a waterfall found on the course of the great Nile. It actually breaks the stunning Victoria Nile, that flows across Uganda’s northern region from the vast Lake Victoria to the deep Lake Kyoga and continuing to the northern tip of Lake Albert within the western arm of the great East African Rift. right on the peak of the Murchison Falls, the waters of the Nile force their way through a small slit within the rocks, which is just 7 meters or 23 feet wide, and topples to 43 meters or 141 feet below with a thunderous roar forming a residual water stray that forms a beautiful rainbow; the view is very breathtaking! From here it then continues its westward into the stunning Lake Albert.
The Lake Victoria outlet sends about 300 cubic meters per second or 11,000 ft³/s of water to these falls and all this volumes squeezed through this gorge that is actually less than 10 meters or 30 feet wide.These waterfalls are located within the Murchison National park which was actually named after these eye- catching waterfalls. The park is located in the northern region of the Albertine Rift Valley. This is the area where the huge Bunyoro escarpment joins together into the vast Acholi plains. The park is recognized as one of the best National parks in Uganda and as well it is well visited. When you visit Uganda, MFNP is a must go for Uganda safaris. In 1926, the park was a game reserve established to shelter the savannah grassland which was pointed out by Winston Church chill in the year 1907 as the grand Kew Gardens together with the wildlife combined on an confined land.
Most of the visitors to this great park often come from various destinations to trek the gorillas within this very country but in another park called Bwindi. If you have more days to visit East Africa, A Tanzania safari can be combined with Rwanda safari & gorilla trekking. Most safari companies offer packages that include various destinations within the great lakes East African region. Murchison Falls National Park is featured in African Tour Safaris, CNN, Huffington Post, Newyork Times and so much.
How to get there
Some of you may be wondering how to get to the park. But by means of road, it will take you around 5hours from Kampala with about 305 km.Paara covers a distance of about 85km from Masindi town by the shortest route.
A direct or longer route will cover an area of about 135km.Alternatively one may decide to take on the Budongo forest route that will provide magnificent views overlooking Lake Albert from the direct position of the rift valley escarpment over Butiaba.
You can also access Paara from the north through Chobe Gate, Karuma Falls along with Tangi.The Gate that is close to Pakwach covers an area of about 25km2 to paara in addition to Wankwar Gate close to Purongo.
People with Vehicles or public means will definitely go through the Nile at paara.It has a fixed time from 07.00 and 19.00.Besides road, Murchison can be accessed by air.Pakuba is the landing site for the charter flights and this takes about 19kms from paraa and Bugungu covers an area of 13kms from Paraa.
What to do & see at Murchison Falls Conservation Area
Murchison falls is a home to different wildlife species; over 76 mammal and 451 bird species including the Buffaloes, Jackson hartebeests, Antelopes, Lions, Kobs, Giraffes, Hyenas, Bushbucks, and Warthogs among others. They are widely spread all over the Savannah grasslands, grazing or hunting for prey. This makes the park’s landscape so amazing for game viewing/game driving.
Murchison Falls National Park is positioned in the Northwestern part of Uganda and covers an area of 3,840sq km, about 5-6hours drive from Kampala. It is the country’s oldest and largest national park and hence you can spot the Big 4, leaving out the Rhinos got extinct by 1983; good news is that they were re-introduced in Ziwa Rhino sanctuary by 2005. The park is also bisected by the renowned River Nile into two parts such as the Northern bank and the Southern bank and Game drives are best done the Northern bank since that’s where you can find a large concentration of wildlife in the Savannah plains whereas the Southern bank a lesser number of antelope herds and other few animals.
The Nile and Murchison Falls
When the park was established in 1952, the Game Department enthused, ‘The main tourist attractions of this park was definitely the unique Murchison Falls as well as the River Nile with its streaming hippo and serried ranges of crocodile along the sandbanks, as well as large numbers of different species getting down to drink & bathe.
Presently the spotlight of a visit to Murchison is the launch trip up the stream to observe the Falls and riverbank wildlife. The launch starts at 09.00 and 14.00 every day. The round trip takes 3 hrs. Another boat trip goes downstream from Paraa down to the papyrus delta at the point were the river enters into Lake Albert. This 4-5 hr return adventure provides a good chance of discovering the shoebill stork and different varieties of Uganda safari wildlife.
Cultural Encounters in Murchison Falls
Murchison falls national park is located in the north Western part of Uganda, it’s the largest national park in the country covering an area of about 4000 square kilometers squared, Murchison falls boasts with a variety of wild animals with many game tracks to view from and also a lot of places to do birding from alongside taking a boat ride to the magnificent falls.
Murchison falls national park is situated in area of diverse groups of people in Uganda, the Acholis dominate the North Eastern area, Banyoro in the south and the Alur in the north Western part. All this tribes have very different cultural values and beliefs, the mubako communities are located near Murchison falls national park plains and live in grass thatched huts they normally perform at different lodges campfires in the eve or at their respective villages while the Boomu women’s group is one of the local groups one should visit during their trip to Murchison falls national park, the Boomu women’s group was formed by a number of forty village women in order to improve on their standards of living and generate money for paying their children’s school fees.
Tourists get to explore the wild on foot while in Murchison Falls Conservation area. There is a trail at Paraa winds throughout low hills, gullies and forest around the river. Nature walks happen at top of the falls, KaniyoPabidi and Rabongo Forest. Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Centre is located in an island of tropical river forest in the south-east of the conservation area. Savannah grasslands surround the forest. With a tour guide, one can explore primates like the Red tailed monkeys, Black & white colored monkeys, Chimpanzees, birds, trees and medicinal plants. Kanio Pabidi is an serene area of natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve, where you can walk beneath mature Mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzee tracking is the most famous activity. You certainly see many forest birds, including the Chocolate backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill, and Puvell’s Illadopsis found nowhere else in East Africa! Kaniyo Pabidi is on the Masindi – Paraa road, 8 kms from Kichumbanyobo gate.
Bird Species commonly seen between Paraa Rest Camp and Ferry crossing are; Spotted Mourning Thrush, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Silver Bird, Bluff-bellied Warbler, Blue-napped Mousebird, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaverBlack-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, and Black-headed Batis, this is the best site for the localised White-rumped Seed-eater.
Common Nocturnal Species in the area include: Verreaux’s owls, Nightjars such as long tailed and Pennat-winged nightjar which usually is watched between the months of March – September. Also available is the amazing standard-winged nightjar watched from November to February. Other bird species include: African Skimmer, White African fish eagle, long-toed plover, Gray Crowned crane, Goliath Heron and more.
The Launch trip begins at Paraa landing area at the point where river nile enters into Lake albert and takes you to the bottom of the falls. While on the cruise you will sight hippos, waterbucks, crocodiles, buffaloes and elephants. You will also see water birds such as cormorants, Fish eagles, ducks, Kingfishers, bee-eaters and the shoebill. The cruise is between 9am and 2pm daily however exceptional schedules can be arranged with the park management. Cruise takes you for 17Km from the bottom of the falls at Paraa for 3hours. Cruise from Paraa to River Delta is 28km and takes about 4-5hours. Fishing is available in the river above and below the fall. Do bring your own fishing equipment if you’re interested in finishing. Examples of fish available in the river to catch are Nile perch, tiger fish and more.