The largest of Uganda’s national parks, Murchison falls is also the oldest national park. Declared a National park in 1952, it derives its name from the Murchison falls where the famous Nile River explodes through a tiny gorge and thunders on toward Sudan.
Murchison falls National Park boasts of very large herds of herbivores roaming and grazing her vast, wide plains. Sadly, this beautiful place has a dark spot in her history. During the political instability of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the parks then immense herds of big game was largely reduced through relentless Poaching and is up to now still recovering well and it should be noted that this is due to the government’s strict and successful policies on wildlife conservation and preservation.
Murchison falls arguably has one of the widest ranges of animal species in Uganda and very large populations of some of these groups especially the herbivores. From Nile Crocodiles, Hippos, Waterbucks and Buffaloes that inhabit the banks of the Nile, to the large herds of game that graze the vast savannahs under the predatory gaze of the big cats, Not forgetting the numerous bird species that flourish here, make Murchison Falls National park a must visit.
A large variety of safari game animals occur freely and widely in the huge expanse that makes Murchison falls national park. The most populous and numerous of these species are the herbivores that graze the entire span of the national park’s savannah grasslands, riverine forest and the woodlands. Giraffes, Elephants, Uganda Kobs, and Bushbucks, Hartebeests, Zebras, Warthogs, Oribis, Bohor reedbuck, Buffaloes and Waterbucks being the most prominent.
Undoubtedly, the big cats are the most exciting animals to see, especially if they are hunting. These big cats are the main carnivores that keep this ecosystem in balance. The majestic Lions are such a sight to behold. The fabled kings of the jungle live in groups (called prides) of usually one Lion and a number of lionesses with their young cubs and they can usually be seen lazing under Acacia trees in the afternoon heat. The lionesses usually do all the hunting and the big animals like Buffaloes, Hartebeests and sometimes giraffes are their prey.
The Cheetahs and Leopards are more reclusive than their larger cousins and usually hunt smaller animals like Gazelles and Kobs. These smaller cats can only be found together when breeding or when the females are raising their cubs. The cheetahs are the fastest animals on land going up to unbelievable speeds of 80 kms per hour and they rely on this when they are hunting.
If you are lucky, you can see them in action while they hunt. The Leopards are more sublime and cunning in their hunting, and rely heavily on stealth and surprise to get their prey. They drag their meals up a tree to escape the hyenas which, when presented with the chance will gang up on the poor cat and eat his meal. Leopards can occasionally be sighted perched on a tree branch on hot afternoons. The less fine looking carnivores are the scavengers like the Hyena, Wild Dogs and Jackals which live and hunt in packs.
Primates like Patas monkeys, Vervet monkeys and Olive baboons, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and White Colobus monkeys and the occasional Chimpanzee, among others exist in Murchison falls National Park mainly in Rubango forest.
Murchison falls national park is very rich in bird species with up to 450 recorded. The main bird species found in this National park are the very elusive Shoebill stork, Heuglin’s Francolin, Emin’s Shrike, Black-headed Batis, Silverbird and Caruther’s Cisticola.
Other birds that can be found in this National Park include The african darter, Goliath Heron, Saddle billed Stork, Bat Hawk, Bateleur, Harlequin and Blue Quails, Black Crake, African Finfoot, Stanley Bustard, Senegal and Spotted Thicknees, Rock Pratincole, Bronze-winged and Temminck’s Coursers, Long-toed Lapwing, African Skimmer, Vinaceous Dove, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Ross’s Turaco, Black Coucal, Marsh Owl, Plain, Standard-winged and Pennant-winged Nightjars, Giant Kingfishers, Red-throated and Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Abyssinian Roller, Piapiac, Marsh Tchagra, Black-headed Gonolek, Yellow-Billed Oxpecker, Sotty Chat, Banded Martin, Siffling Cisticola, Lesser swamp Warbler, Brown Twinspot, White-winged Widowbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Whited-rumped Seedeater, Whew, I could go on and on. A complete List of the birds Found in this national park can be found on the species page.
The large stretches of savannah plains are so picturesque and beautiful the pinnacle of which is the breathtaking Murchison falls where the serene Nile is forced through a tiny gorge before thundering on below and then magically re-transforming into a calm and tranquil river.
Murchison falls is situated in western Uganda and can be accessed both by air and road. The park has three airstrips which are all accessible by the local air operators. As always, we recommend travel by road because you can always stop and view some of the attractions that can be found along the road. By road, the most direct route is the through Masindi via the Wairingo gates 86 kms from Kampala and takes roughly 7 hours to get there.
Murchison falls National Park, like most parks provides a variety of accommodation ranging from state of the art luxury lodges to the most basic campsites. The Nile safari camp, Sambiya river lodge, and Paraa safari lodge offer excellent top class services to visitors while the Red Chili and Paraa rest camps provide traditionally built hats that are more reasonably priced.