Murchison Falls

MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK

Murchison falls national park is the largest National park in Uganda covering to about 3,840 square km that lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift valley northwest of Kampala. Murchison falls National Park was attributed and named due to the presence of Murchison falls that was first explored by European explorers John Speke and James Grant in 1862. The falls were initially called Kabalega falls attributed to the king of Bunyoro kingdom called king Kabalega. These lovely falls were later on explored by Sir Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker around 1863 to 1864 who named it Murchison falls after a president of the Royal Geographical Society called Roderick Murchison. Between 1907 and 1917 inhabitants of this place evacuated the place because of the rampant spread of sleeping sickness that was caused by tsetse flies in the area which left it vacant for various wildlife to occupy. Bunyoro game reserve was created later in 1910 in the southern part which is the current day Buliisa, Kiryandongo, Masindi and the northern shores of Lake Victoria which is the present day Nyoya and thus the boundaries being drawn in 1928 declaring it a National park in 1952 when the British established the National Parks Act of Uganda.

Attractions in Murchison falls national park

Murchison falls

The Murchison falls National ParkMurchison Falls was named after this unique beautiful falls that was explored by Sir Samuel Baker. The Murchison falls were referred to as the Kabalega falls found at the apex of Lake Albert on the Victoria Nile as the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks and tumbles before flowing westward into Lake Albert making the most powerful water fall in the whole world. The Murchison falls form a thunderous sound that can be heard meters away due to the pressure exerted by the Nile waters on the rocks making it a white water capital one cannot go away without exploring most especially hiking to the top of these water falls.

River Nile

The river Nile whose source is found in Uganda is popularly known as the longest River in the whole world stretching through Murchison Falls National Park. River Nile is crowded with streaming hippopotamuses and numerous giant crocodiles that are seen along the sandbanks as well as different animal species and bird species. The River is explored to its best when one takes a launch trip up the stream all the way to the bottom of the water fall which is a memorable experience as one gets to discover water bird species such as the shoebill, Goliath herons, black headed lapwings, Gray crowned cranes among others.

Budongo forest

Budongo forest covers an area of about 826 square kilometers with 4 Rivers which include River Kamirambwa, Waisoke, Sonso, and Siba flowing through it into Lake Albert making it a suitable habitat for various animal and bird species. Budongo forest is majorly dominated by the East African Mahogany as well as the ironwood trees which are good habitats for various primates within the park most especially the chimpanzees and a huge diversity of wildlife such as over 287 butterfly species, 24 mammals and over 360 bird types.

Paraa

This is an area within Murchison Falls National Park worth exploring found close to the banks of River Nile. Paraa is a local language word that means a home of hippopotamuses describing the large number of hippopotamuses found in this area which makes it worth exploring. A diversity of activities can be enjoyed at Paraa such as the hot air balloon rides, guided nature walks, fishing trips, cultural visits, and launch boat trips among others which make it a place worth visiting.

Primates and large mammals

Murchison falls National Park harbors various primates over 800 chimpanzees found in Budongo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi, Blue monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, Black and White Colobus monkeys, Olive baboons, and uncommon endemic Patas monkeys among others. As a result of woodlands, savannah, wetland and tropical forests, there are over 76 mammal species that live within these vegetation types for example the Rothschild’s Giraffe, warthogs, Cape Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Hartebeests, Elephants, Bohor reedbuck, leopards, lions, Jackals, bushbucks to mention but a few. Murchison falls National Park is the best place for Giraffe tracking most especially the Nubian or Rothschild Giraffe with a population of over 1550giraffes that make it a perfect place to create ones memories.

Bird species

Murchison Falls National Park is a perfect destination for bird lovers and watchers making it a birder’s paradise due to it being dominated by woodlands, Riverine forests, savannah grasslands that provide a perfect habitat for over 450bird species. The notable bird species include Secretary bird, Papyrus Gonnolek, African Jacana, Long Toed Lapwing, Spur Winged Lapwing, Great White Pelican, Pink backed Pelican, Crested Francolin, Egyptian Plover, White Faced Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Egyptian Goose, Black Crake, Senegal Thick Knee, Western Crested, Little Egret, Sacred Ibis etcetera. The Park is also composed of the Albert Nile bank and victoria which harbor various bird types such as the Albertine Rift endemic birds, water birds and the savannah bird species which include king fisher, the elegant Gray crowed crane, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills to mention but a few.

Buligi game area

Buligi game area is the best game viewing area in the National Park popular for game drives due to the open savannah grasslands, Riverine vegetation, woodland and acacia that makes the wonderful wildlife be viewed even at a distance. This area is located between the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile where nature lovers will be overwhelmed by the crowds and the sound or noise of the wildlife with in the park.

Karuma water falls

The karuma water fall is located in Chobe area in the northeastern part of Murchison Falls National Park. This is a water thundering water fall comprising of cascading natural rock formations through which the water forces its way forming white foam that is very impressive to observe. The surrounding area to karuma falls is a home to various wildlife including hartebeests, baboons, giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes, monkeys to mention but a few with various bird species inclusive.

Kaniyo Pabidi forests

Kaniyo Pabidi forests is located in the southern part of Murchison Falls National Park with trails that stretch to about 8km to Kichumbar gate which provide a better opportunity for chimpanzee tracking and having a view at other primates such as the olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys to mention but a few with the big four habiting with in the forest that is to say lions, elephants, buffaloes and leopards.  There are guided nature walks carried out in the Kaniyo Pabidi forests where one is assured of having a memorable sight to beautiful bird species such as the White thighed hornbill, Ituri batis, Yellow footed fly catcher to mention but a few.

Culture

Murchison Falls National park is surrounded by a range of diverse communities that reflect on true characters of a true African. These tribes range from the Banyoro in the south, the Alur in northwest and the Acholi in the northeast. These Ugandan tribes have diverse cultural backgrounds that one is assured of encountering when one visits Murchison Falls National Park for example the Boomu women’s group community situated a few yards ahead of Kichumbanyobo gate 8kms from Kaniyo Pabidi and Mubako village who make impressive artcarfts and good at cultural dances that one has to enjoy on one’s visit to this community.

Activities in Murchison Falls National Park

Game drives

Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park give one an opportunity to explore the park and enjoy great views of wildlife species from different designated game drive areas. There is a variety of mammal species that can be viewed with in these designated areas which include Rothschild’s Giraffes, warthogs, Uganda kobs, lions, elephants, cape buffaloes, Jacksons Hartebeests, hippopotamuses, to mention but a few. At Murchison Falls National Park, the best area for game drives is along the Nile Delta where the king of the jungles waits for prey as they concentrate to drink water, the southern sector of the park known as the Heart of Murchison and Buligi Peninsula.

Bird watching

Murchison Falls National Park is a habitat to over 450 bird species which are easily spotted in areas of Budongo forest, Lake Albert delta, Kaniyo Pabidi forest and near Paraa and Red chill. Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park range from Albertine Rift endemic birds, savannah bird species and water birds. Bird species in Murchison National Park include the African Darter, Shoebill, Giant Kingfisher, Gray Headed kingfisher,Verocious Dove, Black headed Lapwing, Gray crowned Crane, Swamp flycatcher, Giant Hero, African Jacana, Palm nut Vulture to mention but a few which are viewed on other activities such as game drives, guided nature walks and boat cruise.

Chimpanzee trekking

Murchison Falls National park offers a memorable chimpanzee trekking experience due to it being gifted with Budongo forest, kaniyo Pabidi and the Rabongo forest. These forests are habitats to over 600 chimpanzees as they provide fruits and the large mahogany trees on which chimpanzees swing and play. This is a magical experience as one is assured of meeting our closest cousins in their natural habitats whom we share with almost 98.8% DNA.

Nature walks

Nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park are one of their kind because one gets the ultimate opportunity to explore the African wilderness on foot. Nature walks involve one walking on foot through the game park trails while enjoying the scenery of Murchison Falls National Park studying about different birds, plant species and other wildlife. In Murchison Falls national Park, nature walks offer impressive sights and sounds of birds, a number of primates can be spotted for example Chimpanzees, Olive Baboons, Blue colobus monkeys, Black and white monkeys, Red tailed monkeys to mention but a few. During nature walks, one gets unforgettable experiences by having a view at the forests with lines of light rays penetrating through the canopies of tall trees like the mahogany and ironwood.

Boat cruise/ launch trips

In Murchison Falls National Park, boat cruise has always proved itself to be the most entertaining among the activities done in the Park it being the switch for other activities like birding at the Albert delta, hiking to the top of the falls, launch along the River Nile and many more. This gives one a clear opportunity to take beautiful and clear shoots of the animals along the Nile because the boat gets closest to the animals like the hippopotamuses and crocodiles, beautiful birds in the nearby trees and along the Albert delta like shoebill stork among others. There are basically two boat cruises in the park that is to say the bottom of the falls boat cruise which is the link to the “hike to the top of the falls” and the Albert Delta launch cruise which is referred to as the “sun downers” because it’s done in the evening as the sun sets down from the sky.

Sport fishing

Fishing in Murchison Falls National Park is done as a sport activity carried out along the Nile which involves catching fish by casting lures that are favorites for catching larger fish like the Nile perch and cat fish. Smaller fish species like the Tiger fish can be caught using other methods such as the use of live bait like worms and termites. This is an exciting experience one must not go away without.

Hot air balloon wildlife safari

Murchison Falls National park is one of the two National Parks where one can experience a Hot air balloon wildlife safari in the Perl of Africa. A Hot Air Wildlife safari is a magnificent aerial view of the wildlife, nature, the river while in Murchison Falls National park which also features viewing sunrise or sunset from above, panorama view of Murchison falls, tree top level flights, Victoria Nile and Lake Albert view, a ground safari before takeoff, photos during cold inflation inside the balloon, receiving a participation certificate to mention but a few. This is also a perfect activity for marriage proposals, honeymooners and those who are always looking out for something adventurous. For safety matters, a hot air balloon operating in the Park is of an Ultra magic type M-160 registered with the Civil Aviation Authority under registration mark 5X-JBH which is serviced after every flight and managed by a certified hot air balloon engineer.

Hiking to the top of falls

Hiking to the top of the most spectacular falls in the whole world is a memorable experience as it starts with a boat safari from Paraa jetty up to the bottom of the falls where one gets off the boat at the starting point of the hike up the Murchison falls. This activity starts right off at Baker’s point, where Sir Samuel Baker an explorer of that time stood on the huge rock in 1864 to declare the beautiful falls Murchison falls which were initially called the Kabalega falls. On this inquisitive hike, you are assured of an informative guide who keeps on explaining certain features, answering questions as one observes the beautiful scenery. One has the opportunity to watch the rolling hills, bird species, vegetation types and also hear the thunderous roars of the falls as one is on the hike. It’s also a great opportunity for one to watch the white form that is made by these falls as water breaks through a narrow gap and it’s at this point where you can also see a permanent rainbow, a good view for taking pictures.

Cultural encounters or visits

Murchison Falls National Park is gifted with diverse cultural groups living around the National Park. These groups include the Banyoro who dominate the south, the Acholi in the northeast and the Alur in the northwestern parts who possess very different cultural values and beliefs forexample their ways of living, food preparations, dressing code to mention but a few. While at Murchison Falls National Park, you are assured of coming across cultural communities for example the Mubako Community situated near the extensive savannah of the park which is so famous for its collection of several traditional grass thatched huts. The Mubako village has a craft shop where one can acquire a number of carved wooden sculptures in form of wild animals and hand woven objects like the baskets made by the local people to take home. It is at these communities that one experiences invigorating cultural performances usually done on campfires, enjoy the jaw-dropping sound of the traditional adungu, traditional folklores to mention but a few.

The best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is easily accessible and enjoyable all year round although the best time is during the dry season from December to February and June to September it being the peak season .        
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