Murchison Falls National park is located in the northwestern part of Uganda, approximately 90km from Masindi town. The park is the largest amongst all Uganda’s national park.  It protects a chunk of untamed African savannah and many tourists who have visited Uganda’s national parks say that it is the hottest safari destination in the country.

Murchison falls national park was named from the mighty Murchison Falls that are formed as a result of the Calm Nile forcing its self through a narrow gorge to explode into a thunderous roar of white water falls which provide an outstanding scenic view of the falls. The park which is located in the northern end of the Albertine Rift valley is one of the oldest conservation areas in Uganda. The park is home to a large number of animals including the giraffe, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, a diversity of antelopes and a number of birds. While in the park you can do activities like a game drive, chimpanzee tracking and a boat ride on the Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls is so rewarding.

Though a lot of wildlife was hunted down in the 1970s and 1980s, animal populations have largely recovered For instance from the lush borassus grassland to the north of the Nile, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and a variety of antelopes are regularly encountered on game drives, while lions are seen with increasing frequency.  In the southeast of the park, Rabongo Forest is home to a number of primates such as chimpanzees and other rainforest creatures.

Murchison falls national park lies at the Northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpments tumbles into vast, palm dotted  savannah. It was gazzetted as a game reserve in 1926 and its Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds . The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall creating the dramatic Murchison falls the centre piece of the park and the final event in an 89km stretch of rapids. The might cascade drains the last of the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert. At Murchison falls, the Nile squeezes through an 8m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar into the ‘’Devils cauldron’’ creating a trademark rainbow. This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. The riverbanks have got regular visitors, buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds which are permanent residents.

The Murchison Falls Conservation Area is the largest protected area in Uganda, 5.025kms, including Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, Karuma Wildlife Reserve and, in the South, Budongo Forest. This is a must see destination while on your wildlife safari in Uganda. The altitude range from 619m at the delta on Lake Albert and 1.292 m at Rabongo hill. The area is traversed by the river Victoria Nile, which connects Lake Kyoga with Lake Albert. The park is named after the marvelous falls on the river, which encounters a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley Escarpment, and then it is transformed into a froth of thunderous white water, with no comparison to any other site in East Africa. The vegetation is characterized by savannah, riverine forest and woodland.


There are 76 mammal species, the big five and others respectively including giraffes, elephants, lions, buffaloes, giraffes, leopards, spotted hyenas, Uganda kobs, bushbuck, waterbuck, warthogs, oribi and jackal. The list of birds counts 450 species.

Top Adventure Activities to Engage in During Your Safari:

The famous launch trip from Paraa along the river Nile up to the Murchison Falls (17 km), to see elephants, buffaloes, waterbuck, hippos, crocodiles, water birds like cormorants, pelicans, herons, fish eagle, shoebill stork. Hike to “top of the falls”, to see closer from the top the exciting and spectacular Murchison Falls. Game drives north of river Nile and at Lake Albert Delta (Buligi, Albert and Queen’s tracks). Sport fishing (Nile Perch and tiger fish), on the river Nile above and below the fall. “Chimpanzee trekking and filming” and bird watching in Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi Forest Reserve.

Things to Do in Murchison Falls National Park

The following are activities carried out in Murchison falls national park, the activities below are very exciting and interesting for one not to miss in this park,

Top of the falls:

The vast landscapes and varied scenery of Murchison Falls national parks and the surrounding conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo pabidi and Rabongo Forests provide sightings of many primates and birds, while around the Nile Delta,2-4 hour guided swamp walks offer possible shoebill sightings.

There are three dramatic view points of the 40m high waterfall. The most convenient is the top of the falls where the Nile thunders through a narrow canyon just six meters wide. Fifteen minutes climb will take you to Baker’s point which enjoys a frontal view of the Nile churning through the gorge. A secondary waterfall, Uhuru falls can also be seen. The third option is to climb down into the gorge from Baker’s point to the Devil’s cauldron the turbulent pool at the base of the waterfalls.

Launch trips on the Nile

A highlight of any visit to Murchison falls conservation Area is the launch trip to view the magnificent Murchison falls. Trips normally depart at 9:00am and 2:00pm. Hippos and crocodiles are abundant and one is able to see plenty of game and bird life. The voyage takes about three hours. The launch trip upstream from paraa presents an astonishing display of wildlife and culminates with the memorable frontal view of the falls .Birders are recommended for a morning cruise downstream to the Nile-Lake Albert Delta. Alternatively, a tranquil sundowner cruise offers the classic view of an equatorial sunset reflected on the river.

Game drives

The most rewarding times for game drives are the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. Agame  drive through the scenic Buligi  game tracks on the Northern with a trained ranger guide is a fantastic way to see and photograph the wide range of animals in the  Nile valley area West of paraa to the Delta point where the victoria Nile passes through the Northern trip of lake Albert to become the Albert Nile which takes around three hours. Expect to see elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribi,with luck lion and a leopard. The guide will have a good idea where the lions are hiding and you may even spot leopard at dusk. Morning game drives start at 7am. Breakfast can be taken beforehand at 6.30am or after wards at around 10am. Evening game drives start at 4pm. With prior notice, the lodges where clients or visitors stay can be able to book a UWA ranger guide to accompany visitors and help spot game.

Bird watching

Murchison falls conservation Area is a birder watchers paradise with 451 bird species including the rare and remarkable shoebill. Both game drives and launch trips offer an opportunity for one to come across distinct birdlife, including savannah forest birds, water birds and Albertine Rift endemics. The park’s main birding attraction is the shoebill, best sighted in the dry season from January-March.

Sport fishing

The Murchison Nile offers world class fishing such as the famous Nile perch and abundance of Cat fish-a record  breaking 108 kg Nile perch was landed near the foot of the falls in 2002. The banks of the Nile below Murchison falls provide exciting challenges to anglers. Living within strong currents and highly oxygenated water is the Nile perch. Fishing permits can be obtained from the UWA park office in South paraa. Limited fishing gears are binoculars are normally available for rent at the lodges.

Hiking and Nature walks

The wilds  of Murchison falls conservation Area can be explored on foot as well as by Vehicle. The vast landscapes can be varied scenery of Murchison falls National park and the surrounding conservation Area can be explored on foot. Trails through Kaniyo pabidi and Rabongo Forest provide sightings of many primates , birds and plants can be closely and quietly observed. Nature walks are also available Rabongo forest, the top of the falls and kaniyo pabidi forest. Around the Nile Delta, 2-4 hour guided swamp walks offers a possibility to provide sightings for shoebill. UWA ranger guides must be hired for these nature walks to provide information about different species spotted and also to answer questions incase visitors ask any question.

Cultural Encounters

The community has got energetic dancers from Mubako performing around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women’s Group offers accommodation, a craft shop which is normally open at 8am to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm daily . The shop sells local East African crafts and souvenirs, guide books, clothing and safari essentials. Cultural encounters give an opportunity to reveal and experience village tours which are the realities of life in the community.

Rabongo Forest

Rabongo forest is an island of tropical riverine forest set in a sea of grassland in the South-east of the conservation area, 1 and half hours drive from the lodge. The forest can be explored on foot in search of primates such as Black—white Colobus, Red tailed monkeys, baboons and occasionally Chimpanzees plus plenty of birds, medical plants and trees. Normally a  uwa ranger guide accompans those that enjoy nature walks.

Chimpanzee Trekking

Kaniyo Pabidi forest 8kms from Kicumbanyobo gate on Masindi paraa road or 56kms from paraa safari Lodge is a beautiful tract of natural forest dominated by giant mahogany and ironwood trees. Chimpanzees can be tracked from Kaniyo pabidi tourism site which is run by the Jane Goodall institute, the famous chimpanzee conservation organization. Birdlife abounds including the chocolate-backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill and puvel’s illaposis which is found nowhere else in East Africa.


Murchison Falls Conservation Area with the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu Wildlife Reserves can be accessed through different routes by road to reach Paraa Park headquarters. It can also be reached by air using the daily flights from Entebbe International Airport or chartered aircrafts from   Kajjansi airfield to Pakuba airfield, 19km North West of Paraa and south at Bugungu, 13 km from the park headquarters.

The most commonly used route is Kampala via Masindi town and Kichumbanyobo Gate which is about 300km long and takes an average of 4.5 hours. This route is currently considered the shortest and most convenient with 175km of it being tarmac and 125km of fine murram. This route takes you through Kaniyo Pabidi Forest famous for the chimpanzee tracking before encountering the rift valley escarpment that offers a spectacular view of the national park landscape. The alternative route is via Biso and Bulisa which enables the visitors to enter the park through the Bugungu Gate. Although a bit longer than the Kichumbanyobo Gate corridor, this access route leads through Budongo Forest ,down the rift valley escarpment with a fascinating view over Lake Albert  onto the Blue Mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo and over the wide open spaces of the massive national park.
The adventurous route also leads the visitors through the chimpanzee packed forest before descending to the rift valley escarpment where one can explore the remains of the historical Butiaba Port as well as Wanseko a popular spot south of the Nile delta.

Once in the conservation area, the Nile river crossing at Paraa in the heart of the park   is approximately 5hrs drive from Kampala (305km). Paraa is 85km from Masindi town by the direct route. A longer (135km) alternative route passes through Budongo forest and provides scenic views across Lake Albert from the rift valley escarpment above Butiaba. Paraa can also be approached from the north, via Chobe Gate near Karuma Falls and Tangi Gate near Pakwach (25km to Paraa), and Wankwar Gate near Purongo.
A vehicle ferry crosses the Nile at Paraa operating hourly between 07.00 and 19.00 with the exception of 13.00.

Accommodation facilities

Murchison Falls National Park do provide wide variety of accommodation facilities like the Paraa safari lodge, Chobe safari lodge, Nile safari lodge (Luxury), Budongo Eco lodge, Sambiya River lodge, Murchison River lodge (Mid-range) and Red chill rest camp (Budget accommodation).