THE LARGEST NATIONAL PARK
The Largest National Park : In Uganda, we have a variety of national parks for example Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Kibale, Semuliki, Mgahinga Gorilla, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, and many others more. And among those mentioned above Murchison Falls National park happens to be the largest National Park in Uganda.
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… It occupies an area of 1,483 square miles (3,840 square km) of rolling grassland east of Lake Albert.
Murchison Falls is also referred to as Kabalega Falls. It is located on the Nile River coming out of Lake Victoria. One of the intriguing facets of the falls is the amount of water that squeezes through the narrow gap in the rocks. The gap measures only 23 feet (7 m) across before plunging 141 feet (43 m). The source delivers 11,000 cubic feet per second (300 m³/s) creating one of the most powerful waterfalls in Africa.
This National Park as we said contains 76 species of mammals and 451 of birds of which include Elephants, Giraffes, Leopards, Gorillas, hyenas, warthogs, Uganda kobs which are widely spread all over the open Savannah grassland. The chance of seeing the cat family of leopards and lions is in the morning before the sun gets too much, hence forcing them into hideouts. Other primates include blue monkeys, white monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, to mention but a few
Murchison Falls National Park has a variety of activities that are offered to guests that visit and these include game drives, white water rafting, Sportfishing, launch trips, nature walks, hot air ballooning, and many others more.
BIRDING IN MURCHISON FALLS
Both the game drives and the 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 commonest species found in the plains include the Marabou Stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Secretary Birds, Black-bellied Bustards, Open-billed Storks, and Widow Bird.
Closer to the river where there are more thickets and woodlands, the commonest bird varieties include the Swallow-tailed and Red-throated Bee-eaters – particularly in the Nyamusika Cliffs; Woodland, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers; Francolin; Hornbills, Grey heron; Hamerkop; Shrikes; Flycatchers; Cuckoos; Woodpeckers; Crombecs and Warblers. The riverbanks are also home to ducks, geese, stilts, and plovers.
LAUNCH TRIPS IN MURCHISON
The launch trip upstream from Paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the Falls. The launch departs at 9 am and 2 pm daily and takes three hours.
Recommended for birders is a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta, providing the best chance in Africa of sighting the elusive Shoebill. This four- to five-hour return voyage also takes in a variety of other wildlife, including hippos, elephants, and many birds.
A tranquil sundowner boat cruise at 5.30 pm offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river
GAME DRIVES IN MURCHISON FALLS
In Murchison Falls National Park game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several designated game drive areas. The main areas are the Delta where there are great chances of seeing the Lions in wait for prey as they go to drink, the Buligi Peninsula, and the southern sector famously known as the heart of Murchison.
The park’s prime game viewing area lies on the Buligi Peninsula, a triangle of grassland bounded by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert, and the Albert Nile flowing out of it. Expect to see elephants, buffalo, antelopes, and giraffes, and keep your fingers crossed for lions and leopards. The game track network converges at Delta Point where the Nile flows north out of Lake Albert; this is a convenient place to stop for refreshments and view waterbirds offshore and distant hippos.
Visitors can also take to the air to explore the plains north and west of Paraa in a hot air balloon. Contact the Jobihani Dream Balloons office at Paraa Safari Lodge
SPORTFISHING IN MURCHISON FALLS
Sportfishing in Murchison falls National Park is quite rewarding for the avid angler. There are great opportunities to land a large Nile Perch “mputa” or Cat-fish “semutundu”. Other fish include Tigerfish, Electric catfish, Tilapia, “Ngara” (Genus Celestes).
The record largest Nile Perch was 113 Kgs landed at at the water gauge opposite the crocodile pool, and the largest cat-fish was 45 Kgs landed near the Nyamusika Cliffs
Experienced UWA Guides are available to lead you to the best fishing spots, however, Wildfrontiers operates a fishing concession at Murchison falls National Park and they can be contacted privately.
A fishing permit is required and currently (March 2019) is at $50 per day or $150 for four days. Park entrance fees are paid separately details are on the UWA Tariff.
The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls National Park 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-Lake Albert Delta, two- to four-hour guided swamp walks offer possible sightings of the Shoebill when the water level is low. After an afternoon boating upriver, you can also hike 45 minutes through woodland to the top of Murchison Falls for a completely different experience of this magnificent waterfall.
This is an experience that brings all the senses into play: watch waves of white water tumble hypnotically through this six-meter chasm, listen to the roar, taste the spray on your face and feel the rock shake beneath your feet. Sheer sensory overload! If you don’t fancy the trek to the top, stop off at the north bank during your game drive, and walk down a set of steps to stand within meters of the rapids.
Birders and nature lovers can enjoy short treks starting from Sambiya River Lodge or Mubako Junction, both on the south bank, or a walk along the north bank from Paraa, passing the Emmy River. All walks last from one and a half to two hours.
The entry fee to the national park varies basing on per person per day and varies depending on the visitors’ residence status,age, and the number of days the visitor will be spending at the park. Foreign non-residents visiting Murchison Falls National Park get to pay USD 40 dollars as entry fee while foreign residents are charged USD 30 dollars per person and UGX 20,000 for East African Citizen. However, children are charged 10 USD,20USD, and UGX 5000 for foreign non-residents, foreign residents and the East African Community. On the other hand you can choose to pay an annual entry fee which is for the whole year per person or as cooperate group group or however this applies to foreign residents and guests who are citizens of the East Africa Community.
There are a variety of Safari Lodges and hotels for accommodation at Murchison Falls National Park that range from budget to luxury and some the examples include Budongo Eco Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari lodge to mention but a few. These Hotels and Lodges are beautiful, comfortable have nice catering services not that they too are hospitable. And In case any inquiries the attendants shall be around and available all the time when they are needed and do not hesitate to ask for any help. Most of them range between $ 40 and$500 per night. Most of them too arrange Safari activities within the park too.
We hereby invite you all to come to have a look at the fascinating and beautiful nature that revolves around us and get to know more about it and have a good time too.