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Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest and oldest national park, covering approximately 3,840 square kilometres. Established in 1952, the park is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, where the Nile River explodes through a narrow 7-meter gorge and plunges 45 meters down in a thunderous roar. 

This breath-taking park is a haven for wildlife, boasting an impressive variety of ecosystems, from dense rainforests to sprawling savannahs, swamps, and woodlands. The park is home to over 76 mammal species and 451 bird species, making it a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

murchison and Uhuru-Falls

Among the notable residents are elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, buffaloes, and a healthy population of hippos and crocodiles in the Nile. The riverbanks attract many bird species, including the rare shoebill stork.

Location & Accessibility

Murchison Falls National Park is located in around 300 kilometres north west of Kampala, Uganda's capital. It is a popular destination for both local and international visitors, and it can be easily accessed by road or air.

By Road

The most common way to reach Murchison Falls is by road. The drive from Kampala takes about 5 hours. The main route is via the Kampala - Gulu highway, branching off at Karuma Falls towards the southern gates of the park. 

If one is coming from other parks in western Uganda such as Kibale or Queen Elizabeth, the road connects through Hoima town and goes through large parts of country side.

By Air

For a quicker journey, visitors can choose to fly by domestic flight from Entebbe to Airstrips in Pakuba, Bugungu or Chobe in Murchison Falls National Park. The flight from Entebbe to Murchison takes around 1 hour.

Domestic flights can also connect Murchison and other popular Ugandan tourist destinations such as Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo, or Bwindi national parks.

Things to Do (Activities)

Murchison Falls National Park offers a variety of activities that cater to different interests, ensuring that every visitor has a memorable experience.

Game Drives

giraffe in murchison falls

The park's savannah and woodland areas are perfect for game drives. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to spot wildlife. Popular game drive circuits include Buligi, Albert, and Queen's Tracks, where visitors can see elephants, giraffes, lions, buffaloes, and more.

Boat Safaris

A boat cruise on the Nile to the base of Murchison Falls is an unmissable activity. The three-hour trip offers spectacular views of the falls and the chance to see hippos, Nile crocodiles, buffaloes, and numerous water birds.

An alternative boat trip to the delta near Lake Albert is also available and provides excellent birdwatching opportunities.

murchison boat cruise

Hiking and Nature Walks

Murchison Falls has many spots where adventurous guests can explore through guided nature walks or hikes. The most common is the hike at the top of the falls which allows you to see and experience the falls from different points of views.

Nature walks in Rabongo Forest and along the Nile-Lake Albert Delta offer a closer look at the park's flora and fauna.

Bird Watching

Murchison Falls is home to more than 450 different species of birds living in its savannah, river banks and delta, forests and swamps.

Notable species include the shoebill stork, Goliath heron, African fish eagle, and the rare Pel's fishing owl. Birdwatching is particularly rewarding in the delta, along the riverbanks, and in the forests.

Sport Fishing

The Nile river is famous for its large Nile perch, some weighing over 100 kilograms. Murchison Falls is one of the best places for spot fishing especially if you are looking to break records with the size of Nile perch you can catch.

With the necessary permits and guides, anglers can enjoy sport fishing on designated spots along the river.

Places to Stay

Murchison Falls National Park offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury lodges to budget campsites, ensuring that every visitor finds a place that suits their needs and budget.

Luxury Lodges

  • Paraa Safari Lodge: Overlooking the Nile, this lodge offers luxury rooms, a swimming pool, and a variety of activities.
  • Baker’s Lodge: Situated on the southern bank of the Nile, this eco-friendly lodge provides luxury tents and personalized service.
  • Chobe Safari Lodge: Located on the eastern edge of the park, it offers stunning river views, a swimming pool, and a spa.

Mid-Range Lodges

  • Murchison River Lodge: Offers comfortable cottages, safari tents, and camping facilities with a bar and restaurant.
  • Fort Murchison: Located near the park’s northern boundary, this lodge offers spacious rooms and tents with stunning views.

Budget Accommodation

  • Red Chilli Rest Camp: Provides affordable bandas, tents, and a campsite with a restaurant and bar.
  • Shoebill Campsite: Located near the Nile, this campsite offers basic amenities for budget travelers.

Seasons & Best Time to Visit

Murchison Falls National Park can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your interests and the weather conditions.

Dry Season

The Dry season in Murchison Falls happens between the months of June to September and December to February. 

  • Pros: Best time for game viewing as animals gather around water sources; easier to navigate roads and trails.
  • Cons: Hot and dry conditions, especially in January and February.

Wet Season 

The Wet season in Murchison Falls National Park happens between the months of March to May, and October to November.

  • Pros: Lush landscapes, fewer tourists, and excellent birdwatching as migratory birds arrive.
  • Cons: Some roads and trails may become impassable due to heavy rains.

Climate Chart

Here is a climate chart showing the average monthly rainfall and temperatures in Murchison Falls National Park:

Month Average Rainfall (mm) Average Temperature (°C/°F)
January 60 28/82
February 75 29/84
March 130 28/82
April 160 27/81
May 150 26/79
June 90 26/79
July 70 26/79
August 90 26/79
September 110 27/81
October 140 27/81
November 130 27/81
December 80 27/81

Related article: Best time to visit Uganda for safari holiday

Nearby Attractions

Murchison Falls National Park is surrounded by several other attractions that can enhance your travel experience.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa is the only place in Uganda where you can see wild rhinos, and it is located around 150 kilometres from Murchison Falls National Park. Here you will learn about the efforts to bring back rhinos into Uganda's wilderness after they had gone extinct in the 1970s. You can also enjoy birding to look for many species.

ziwa rhinos

Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest Reserve is located on the southern edge of Murchison Falls, and is known for its chimpanzee tracking and birdwatching. The Royal Mile is a renowned birding trail that offers great opportunities for birding and seeing the forest's primates.

Closing Thoughts

As one of Uganda's top destinations, Murchison Falls offers a great variety of activities for the visitor. Whether you are fascinated by the longest river in the world, the most powerful waterfalls, the explosion of wildlife in the savannah, the birds or any combination of each, a visit is worth it.

The park has developed infrastructure, with hotels and lodges to meet various budgets and travel styles and is equally loved by Ugandans and foreign visitors.

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