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Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Uganda lion
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s most prominent protected area of 4,000 square kilometres, is geographically located on the northern side of the Albertine Rift valley, the northwestern part of Uganda.

Murchison Falls National Park was once reserved for rulers and royals. Over the years, the park has remained a beloved destination with fascinating wildlife and astonishing views for all the experience.

The Murchison Falls, named after the park, is one of nature’s most astounding wonders. The River Nile pushes through a small opening at the summit of the rift valley to create a powerful waterfall. Only by witnessing the Nile’s most fierce and magical entrance will you truly understand why this National park has drawn travellers from all over the globe for over a century (over 60,000 every year).

There are over 70 different species of mammals and hundreds of bird species that can be found. It is an excellent destination for enjoying nature, viewing the abundant wildlife, fishing, birding, hiking, and boat rides on the majestic River Nile.

The powerful Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls National Park
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

When the park was established in 1952, According to the history, the game department proclaimed that the park’s major tourist attraction would undoubtedly be the spectacular Murchison Falls. The waterfall on the Nile presents a theatrical battle between the water and the rocks, with a considerable volume of water powerfully squeezing through a narrow 7m crevice in the rocks before plunging over 40 metres below into a 50cm radius water pool. The water’s powerful force causes a roar, and water sprays around the fall.

Interestingly, many visitors prefer to stay near the waterfalls so that they can hear the roaring water, especially at night.

The River Nile

Murchison Falls National Park crocodile
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

The River Nile is another appealing feature of the National Park. The Nile, whose source is in Uganda’s tourist city of Jinja, is widely regarded as the world’s longest river. It flows through Murchison Falls National Park and teems with hippos, numerous giant crocodiles seen along the sandbanks, and many animals such as waterbuck, elephants, rhinos, and birds. 

The best way to explore the Nile is to cruise upstream to the bottom of the falls, where you will see various animals and birds. The boat cruise takes about 3 hours. There is also a boat cruise downstream to the papyrus Delta, where the Nile enters Lake Albert.

Buligi Game Area

Murchison Falls National Park
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

This is the best game viewing area in the park, and it includes open savannah grasslands, riverine, woodland, and acacia vegetation. On a 4-day Murchison Falls safari, there are both morning and late afternoon game drives in the Buligi area, and a ranger guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority is on hand to assist you. The site is situated between the Victoria and Albert Nile rivers, with stunning views of the western rift valley.

Wild animals

Uganda rhino
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

The park’s animals include rhinos, hippos, elephants, Rothschild giraffes, warthogs, cape buffalos, Uganda kobs (antelopes), hartebeests, lions, zebras, leopards, cheetahs, and many more.

Murchison Falls National Park birds

Murchison Falls National Park birds
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

Murchison Falls National Park bird species include;

The rare shoebill stork, goliath heroin, African quail flinch, the elegant grew crowned Cranes, blue-headed coucal, white-browed sparrow, swamp flycatcher, red-throated bee-eater, priapic, sandpipers, weaver birds, hornbill, and many others.


Murchison Falls National Park primates
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

Over 800 chimps, olive baboons, black and white Columbus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and other primates can be found in Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo forests.

The Karma Waterfalls

Murchison Falls National Park
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

This thundering waterfall is located in the park’s northern section. It consists of cascading natural rock formations through which the water forces its way, forming a distinctive white water foam that is very impressive. Its location makes it ideal for spot fishing. Wildlife, such as monkeys, buffalos, antelopes, giraffes, and birds, live in the area surrounding this fall.

Kaniyo Pabini Forest

The trails of this forest, located in the southern part of the park, stretch up to 8 kilometres and provide opportunities for chimp tracking, as well as seeing other primates such as blue monkeys and olive baboons living under Uganda’s most prominent living mahogany forest. Bird watching is also excellent here, with sightings of various species such as yellow-footed flycatchers, white-thighed hornbills, and many others, which is possible to see during guided nature walks in the forest. Other animals that live in the forest include buffaloes, antelopes, giraffes, and elephants.

Uganda giraffes
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

Budongo Forest

The Budongo Forest in the southwest of the park is another significant region worth investigating on your visit to Murchison Falls National Park. It encompasses farmlands and villages on the other side. The forest is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including over 250 butterfly species, 24 mammals, 430 tree species, and 360 bird species. The forest also provides excellent primate viewing opportunities.


Uganda hippos
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

Another important area worth exploring is Paraa along the banks of the River Nile. Paraa means the group of hippos in the local language (Luo). You can go on community walks, cultural visits, bird watching, and visit the Luo tribe to learn about their culture and way of life. In addition, in the northern part of Paraa, there is a museum with a gift shop.

Murchison Falls National Park activities

Boat cruises

There are two boat cruises available, one upstream to the bottom of the falls and one downstream on the Victoria Nile to the shores of Lake Albert. This allows you to see stunning views of the Nile, beautiful scenery, large herds of hippos in the water, crocodiles, elephants, and aquatic birds such as the shoebill stork, African jacana, and yellow-footed kingfisher.

Hiking and nature walks

Hike to the top of the falls; this is the most impressive hike on the Murchison Falls National Park trail. The 45-minute guided walk requires some physical fitness; however, you will have a great time watching rolling hills and vegetation types, hearing the thunderous roar of the falls, and seeing various birds while on this hike. While on top, you can see the River Nile force its way through a small gap before dropping down to continue its course.

You can enjoy nature while chimp tracking in the Budongo Forests by going on excursions where you’ll encounter a variety of tree species like Mahogany birds and more.

Murchison Falls National Park bird
Photo credit: Simon Peter Owino

If you are interested in nature excursions, you can find many more travel tips in the ‘naturalist journeys’ section of our blog.

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