Murchison Falls National Park is a national park in Uganda managed by Ugandan Wildlife Authority. The park lies in north western Uganda, spreading inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile. It is named for the Murchison Falls waterfall, itself named for a president of the Royal Geographical Society. The park is known for its wildlife which has partly recovered from a massacre by poachers and troops under Idi Amin. Together with the adjacent 748 square kilometres (289 sq mi) Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720 square kilometres (280 sq mi) Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area.
The park is sometimes referred to as Kabalega National Park. Kabalega was the Omukama of the Kingdom of Bunyoro, around the end of the 19th century. He resisted colonization by the British, was arrested and was exiled by the British to the island nation of the Seychelles. Kabalega died in Jinja, in 1923 en route to Bunyoro from exile.
Murchison Falls National Park is located in Buliisa District in western Uganda and in Nwoya District in northern Uganda. The park is situated approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi), by road, northwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The coordinates of the park are:02 15N, 31 48E (Latitude:2.2500; Longitude:31.8000).
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. It measures approximately 3,840 square kilometres (1,480 sq mi). Together with the adjacent Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park is part of the 5,308 square kilometres (2,049 sq mi) Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA). The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile from east to west for a distance of about 115 kilometres (71 mi). The park is the location of the famous Murchison Falls, where the waters of the majestic Nile River squeeze through a narrow gorge, only 7 metres (23 ft) wide, before plunging 43 metres (141 ft) below. Also in the park, adjacent to the Masindi-Gulu Highway, are the Karuma Falls, the location of the 600 MW Karuma Power Station, Uganda’s largest hydropower station, currently under construction and expected to come online sometime around 2018.
In Murchison there are four of the “big five”. Buffalos, elephants, lions, leopards are best to be seen in the northern part (above the Nile). Due to excessive hunting and poaching, Rhinos became extinct by 1983, but were re-introduced into Uganda in 2005 by Rhino Fund Uganda. White rhinos are now being bred again in the 7,000 hectares (27 sq mi) Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is located 70 kilometres (43 mi), south of the park. Their mission is to reintroduce small herds of rhinos (around five at a time), whilst retaining a nucleus breeding herd in the sanctuary.
When the park was established in 1952, the Game Department enthused, ‘The main tourist attractions of this park was definitely the unique Murchison Falls as well as the River Nile with its streaming hippo and serried ranges of crocodile along the sandbanks, as well as large numbers of different species getting down to drink & bathe.
Presently the spotlight of a visit to Murchison is the launch trip up the stream to observe the Falls and riverbank wildlife. The launch starts at 09.00 and 14.00 every day. The round trip takes 3 hrs. Another boat trip goes downstream from Paraa down to the papyrus delta at the point were the river enters into Lake Albert. This 4-5 hr return adventure provides a good chance of discovering the shoebill stork and different varieties of wildlife.
The Nile below Murchison Falls offers exciting challenges to anglers coupled with a chance to land a huge Nile Perch (the record is 108kg). Fishing is prohibited to designated sites & places are limited so advance booking is recommended. A number of boats could be hired for sportfishing by prior booking. Do carry your own fishing equipment.
The most spectacular view of the waterfall is on the top of “where the sight & sound of the Nile crashing through”, wide chasm make a memorable assault on the senses site -can be reached either by car / a 30 minutes climb, leaving the Paraa launch.
Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi forests
Trails through Kaniyo Pabidi forest for 8 kilometer inside Kichumbar Gate, offer the opportunity to track chimpanzee and primates below Uganda’s largest left mahogany. Birdwatching is excellent with the opportunity of sighting rarities while the yellow-footed flycatcher, white thi hornbill and Ituri batis. Nature walks are as well offered up at Rabongo forest.
The park’s superior savanna game viewing aspect, this grassland wilderness is located between the Victoric Albert Niles with excellent views towards the western rift valley beyond Lake Albert in the DRC. A drive from Paraa passing Delta Point takes 3 to 4 hours. Morning & late afternoon are the best times for sight game drives. A ranger guide from UWA is recommended to help you in most of your game drive.
Flora and Fauna
The park is subjugated by woodland, wetland, savannah as well as tropical forest that is well known to be a habitant for over 76 mammal species and over 450 different bird species. Among the big mammals include hippo, Rothschild’s giraffe,warthlog,cape buffalo, Uganda kob,hartebeest and elephants.The Nile corridor of the Murchison has a big collection of water birds such as rare shoebill stork and also has a large concentration of Nile crocodile.Kaniyo Pabidi forest is a home to primates, chimpanzees and over 360 species of different birds.
Some of you may be wondering how to get to the park. But by means of road, it will take you around 5hours from Kampala with about 305 km.Paara covers a distance of about 85km from Masindi town by the shortest route.
A direct or longer route will cover an area of about 135km.Alternatively one may decide to take on the Budongo forest route that will provide magnificent views overlooking Lake Albert from the direct position of the rift valley escarpment over Butiaba.
You can also access Paara from the north through Chobe Gate, Karuma Falls along with Tangi.The Gate that is close to Pakwach covers an area of about 25km2 to paara in addition to Wankwar Gate close to Purongo.
People with Vehicles or public means will definitely go through the Nile at paara.It has a fixed time from 07.00 and 19.00.Besides road, Murchison can be accessed by air.Pakuba is the landing site for the charter flights and this takes about 19kms from paraa and Bugungu covers an area of 13kms from Paraa.