Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Murchison Falls National Park got its name from the beautiful waterfalls that are in the park; originally called Kabalega falls. These waterfalls are on the River Nile course which starts from Lake Victoria and ends in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Murchison falls are formed when the river water squeezes through a narrow gorge estimated to be about 7 meters wide and then falls down a distance of about 43 meters. The result is a loud roar into the “Devil’s Cauldron” with a rainbow formation.

The park was established in 1952 with wildlife like chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, leopards, lions, oribis, Uganda kobs and various bird species.

The 1,503 square mile national park is part of the Murchison conservation area which also includes the Bugungu wildlife reserve and the Karuma wildlife reserve. This is Uganda’s biggest and oldest protected area. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is charged with governing this national park.

Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest and one of the best national parks in Uganda and it is recommended as a must visit for Uganda Safaris.

Murchison Falls NP

History of the Park

Sir Samuel Baker was in Uganda in 1863 as an explorer and it was him that named the falls Murchison after the then president of the Royal Geographical Society, Roderick Murchison.

Between the years 1907 and 1912, the dwellers in the area had an attack of sleeping sickness as a result of the spread of tsetse flies. This gave way to the setting up of Bunyoro game reserve in 1910 and in 1928, the reserve was expanded to include parts of Gulu district; thus the name Bunyoro-Gulu game reserve. This helped preserve the Savannah grassland which was ideal for wildlife conservation.

The British administration established the National Parks Act of Uganda in 1952 that helped reduce hunting and poaching in the Bunyoro-Gulu Game Reserve. As a result, the animal population expanded that led to the inevitable upgrading of the reserve to a national park and it was named Murchison Falls National Park, one of the first two national parks, along with Queen Elizabeth National Park. Fifteen years down the road after its establishment, Murchison Falls had become the number one safari destination in East Africa receiving sixty thousand visitors annually.

Location of the Park

Murchison Falls National Park is in the districts of Buliisa, Kiryandongo, Masindi and Nwoya.

The distance from Entebbe airport via Masindi town to the park is approximately 320 kilometers by road. The journey can take 5 to 7 hours depending on driving speed and the duration of the stop overs.

Just after a two-hour drive, approximately 176 kilometers from Kampala city, you can have a refreshing stopover in Nakasongola where Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is located. At the ranch you are able to see some 22 southern white rhinoceroses in the wild. If the stopover is to last longer you will also enjoy not only rhino trekking but nature walks, bird watching, shoebill trek and canoe rides as well.

Travel by air to the national park is possible from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Pakuba airfield in Nyowa district, Northern Uganda. You are guaranteed of two domestic flight operators with schedules departures to the park but chartered flights as an option are also available.

The Best Time to Visit

The climate is favorable for tourists to visit Murchison Falls National Park at any time of the year. However, it is during the dry season when you can have the best experience. The months of the dry season are December, January, February, June, July, August and September. This is when the animals draw towards the water bodies making them easy to view. The best months are June and July.

The off-peak season – when prices are lowered and even some lodges close – is in the months of March to May and September to November. This is the ideal time for bird watchers due to high bird activity and with few tourists.

To have a memorable safari in Murchison Falls National Park, two days should be set aside to cover the whole park and exhaust its wonders.

Adventure Tourism Activities

The Murchison Falls

This is the number one attraction of the park which has a magnificent view when approached from the top of where the sight and sound of the Nile roaring through a narrow gorge is breathtaking. The site which can be reached by car, or by a boat cruise or by thirty minutes climb.

Murchison Falls

The Game Drives

A perfect game drive should be accompanied by a tour guide to help you observe the different animals and bird species. During the drive you are able to see buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, hartebeests, hippopotamuses, lions, warthogs and Uganda kobs among many, in the natural habitat, the Savannah woodland, wetland and tropical forest.

Bird watching

The park is a host of many bird species including the bluff-bellied warbler, the blue-napped mouse bird, the spotted mourning thrush, the silver bird, the vitelline masked weaver, the chestnut-crowned sparrow, the white-rumped seed-eater, verreaux’s owls, the long tailed and pennat-winged night jar, the standard-winged night jar; the African skimmer, the white African fish eagle, the long-toed plover, the gray crowned crane, the goliath heron; to mention but a few.

Boat cruise

The standard time for the cruise is between 9:00am and 2:00pm daily though exceptional schedules can be arranged with the park management.

At the point where the Victoria Nile enters Lake Albert, is the Paraa landing area, the point where the trip starts. There is the 17 kilometer, 3 hour journey takes us to the bottom of the Murchison falls; and there is the 28 kilometer, 5 hour Paraa to River Delta cruise. Along the river banks, you can catch the sight of crocodiles, buffaloes, elephants hippopotamuses, waterbucks, bee-eaters, cormorants, ducks, fish eagles, kingfishers, and the shoebill.

Nature walks

With the help of an experienced tour guide, tourists get to explore the trail at Paraa winds through gullies, low hills, and forests around the river.

Other places for nature walks are at the top of the Murchison falls, Kaniyo Pabidi (natural forest within Budongo Forest Reserve) and Rabongo Forest Ecotourism Centre.

Tourists can explore primates like the Black & white colored monkeys, Chimpanzees and the Red tailed monkeys.

It is lovely to see forest birds like the chocolate backed Kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill, and Puvell’s Illadopsis.

Key Facts to have in Mind

When preparing to have a safari to the wilderness of Murchison Falls National Park, there some key facts you should have in your note book.

The Safari Company of choice should be a member of Association of Uganda Tour Operators, since it maintains a list only credible tour and travel operators. Check reviews of clients that have used their service before you hand them your trust.

If you like hiking, do not leave behind your hiking gear.

If you are into fishing, remember to bring your own fishing equipment. You will be able to catch the Nile perch and the Tiger fish in the River Nile.

The prices for the key activities vary; for foreign nonresidents, entrance fee is USD40 per person to be able to access the national park and USD20 for children; USD30 for Foreign East African residents and USD10 for children.

You need not worry about accommodation at the national park. If your prefer luxury, there is Paraa Safari Lodge. For the mid-range category you can go for Pakuba Safari Lodge while at affordable rates, you can go for Heritage Safari Lodge or Red Chilli Safari Lodge.

62 thoughts on “Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda”

  1. Next to a Scandinavian trip, embarking to Africa would be quite the treat. While Scandinavia is a place I want to see strictly for the scenery (in the summer, anyway), it’s always been a dream of mine to travel to sub-Saharan Africa to witness the beauty of the wildlife in action, up close and in person.

    I actually had a seventh grade teacher who went on an African safari and he brought it up almost daily. I can’t quite remember how long he was there, but it seemed like it was at least a month. By the way, these pictures are absolutely breathtaking. It’s amazing just how much scenery our world offers. It would be quite an experience.

    1. Todd, the world offers breathtaking scenery but they remain hidden to us useless we make an effort to travel and explore. I am glad your friend liked his visit to Africa and I am sure that after your Scandinavian trip, we shall be delighted to host you.

  2. Africa is very close to my heart, as I was born in South Africa and are familiar with the mesmerisingly beautiful landscapes from Africa. The fauna and flora is second to none and the wildlife tours are something out of this world. I have not been to Uganda before, but Murchison Falls National Park looks mesmerisingly beautiful and if I ever get the chance I will be sure to visit. Thank you so much for sharing with us the beauty of mother nature. 

    1. Schalk, I am glad you quickly understood the topic here having been born in SA. i hope you can speak Zulu or Xhosa!! The beauty in Uganda is unique to the eye and I am sure you will be able to notice that when the opportunity presents itself for your safe travel here.

  3. This is a great article and it really is thinking outside the box when it comes to seeking out vacations.  This place looks absolutely beautiful.  I mean Im not sure it is something my wife would put on our bucket list.  However once I show this to my wife you never know.However when we go on a vacation I always ask a question.  Is there fishing available.  When I say that, is there any lakes where a guy can cast a hook and catch a fish.Dale

    1. Dale, if it fishing you want on your perfect vacation, then you will be in the right place when you are at Murchison falls. You will be able to get the silver fish, lung fish, tiger fish and not forgetting the Nile perch which is rich with omega 3 fatty acids – good for heat health.

  4. Hi Edgar, 

    Africa is a country that has been on my wish list for years, and after reading this informative review and getting a better perspective, you have encouraged me to take the plunge and explore this breath-taking and beautiful continent.

    I totally agree with the tour guide approach of going on safari. Thank you for your insight! 

  5. That sounds like a wonderful experience and the tip on seeing most the animals during the dry season is great. They seem to have a lot of months with it being dry. I also like the tip on the rainy season being able to bird watch with much fewer distractions from other tourists. The cost seems relatively cheap as well is that $40 per day and if you stay in a resort at the park does that include the cost as well? The thing that I’d really want to see though is the Rhinos!! Thanks for the review.

    1. Jason, if its rhinos you want, then coming rhino trekking anytime in Uganda. I am glad you liked the tips am sure they would help you.

      The USD40 is the park entry fee that allows you over 4 hours of game drive but not including your meals and accommodation.

  6. Hi Edgar

    I think your post is very thorough. At first I though there was a lot of info to read but I was wrong. each category has it’s purpose. You can choose to read everything or just what you feel like and still get some good information. 

    You manage to catch the reader attention quite well in my opinion. I’m not sure if you agree but I would add some pictures or redirect to a page where I could see more pics if I wanted. What do you think ?

    I’m not sure why you have that other link at the bottom. I would also sign the post at the bottom. Other from that great work. 

    1. Thank you Carl for your kind comments. As you suggested, I will get in more pictures to give a deeper feel of the national park.

      The link at the bottom is theme generated to bring a story posted in the past related to what you have read.

  7. wow! this place sounds unbelievable! as a traveller im always looking for non-commericalised places to visit! off the beaten track and Murchison Falls National Park falls in that category!

    i cant believe you have so many things to there! why havent I heard about this place before!

    ive got two small kids and i want them to bring them along…would you recommend this? also what do i need to wary of in uganda as a tourist?

    1. Tarun, the only thing you need to worry about is forgetting your travel bag that should contain your necessities and other items like camera, neck pillow, power bank, eye mask, sun block, hiking gear and binoculars.

      You can come along with your children since Uganda is a secure country. When you get here you will see many wonderful places with hospitable people.

  8. As someone who has travelled extensively through Africa, I have found there are many hidden gems such as Uganda that are often overlooked based on the unknown or negative publicity that Africa gets as a continent and tourism destination.

    What is the security situation in Uganda should one want to visit this park? I have not seen Uganda as a main destination from Germany, does one need to first fly to JHB or Nairobi and connect to Uganda from there?


    1. Richard, you are right about the negative publicity out there but we are going the extra mile to correct this.
      Uganda is the Pearl of Africa and has wonderful sites complimented by its favorable climate.

      Uganda is a secure country including its national parks where your safety is guaranteed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
      Thank you Richard for pointing out the necessity to market tourism more in Germany.
      You do not have to go through J’burg, they are direct flights aboard many airlines like Brussels, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian, KLM and Turkish.

  9. Hi, Edgar Ahimbe

    Thank you very much for sharing with us such an extraordinary blog. I got lots of information when I read this blog. Whatever you told about the Murchison Falls National Park that is really true. If I do not read this blog I can not get all the information. I will definitely share this blog with my friends.

    Thank you again.

    1. Thank you Seofarhan for your kind comments. You can utilize the quick share buttons on the top right corner of this post. I will be grateful.

  10. I have never been to Uganda but looks like I have been missing a lot the falls are one wonder I would love to a chimpanzee is another wonder I would love to see .i will be making plans on visiting Uganda it has a lot to be enjoyed and treasured it’s always good to visit mama Africa.

    1. Hello Charles, I will be delighted if you visit Mama Africa. In case you make it to Uganda, don’t miss these falls as ranked in order: Murchison falls, Sipi falls, Kisiizi falls, Bujagali falls, Itanda falls, Sisiyi falls and Sezibwa falls.
      You can book yourself a 5 days gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking safari to Bwindi and Kibale national parks.
      This should leave you with memories.

  11. Isn’t this the national park that was visited by Kanye and Kim Kadashian? If so, then I believe it’s an exciting place to be, because I believe those two never settle for less.

    1. Elisha, you must be keeping up with the Kardashians. That’s is the national park American rap artist Kanye West and the wife Kim Kardashian took time off on their second day in Uganda. They stayed at the Chobe safari lodge. They had a magical experience which they promised to share with the world.

  12. I would love to see visit this part too, it makes think, why is Ugandan government not calling international attention to 43 meters waterfall and wildlife that lives around it?Some countries are making lots of money from tourism, and many of these centers are not as fascinating as Murchison Falls.

    1. I believe the attraction of tourists will increase in Uganda due to the stability of the country, the unique diverse attractions, revision of policies and more investment in market and research.
      Autofreak, you aright. Uganda has great potential and the world has to tap it. 

  13. Being from Africa myself, I know that Africa has so many hidden treasures. Being a traveler, I also know that nothing compares to Africa. This looks amazing. Thank you for a great post.

  14. Dear Edgar
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards their dream-like holidays. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,

  15. Africa is indeed a great continent, I love Africa and travelling around the world is just my thing. We definitely can’t make it round the world in a life time but if you are like me love nature and explore the the magnificent ambiance of nature, you may want to visit Murchison Falls National Park. The park you have pictured in the most captivating way and for the likes of Winston Churchill and several British royals to have visited could have resulted in visitors trooping in , in their thousands annually.
    I like the thought of the boat cruise for the adventure activities but won’t dare climbing. I also like it that there is air travel to Murchison .

    Thanks Ahimbe for creating the awareness of this historic place.

    1. Stella, I am glad you like travelling and embrace nature in its raw form. You should come over to Uganda and have the boat cruise you like so much.
      I hope this enters your records as an activity to do in 2019.
      Thank you for your comment.

    1. Nicholas, thank you for your comment especially for making it a point to visit Murchison Falls National Park. It is a decision that will be worth every coin and will leave memories that will live long.

  16. Thanks for this an insightful article. Africa is a continent that has been on my wish list for years to visit and after reading this informative review and getting a better perspective, you have encouraged me to take the plunge and explore this breath-taking and beautiful continent.I would discuss with my partner to plan our best visit to Africa. Thanks for the review 

    Best regards 

    1. Thank you Adamuts for taking time off to read this article and most importantly, considering coming over to visit. I hope the discussion with your partner will be fruitful.

  17. wow, my beautiful Africa, I love the work you are doing with your site.

    It’s amazing how much we have been blessed by nature, so much so that sometimes we turn to take this for granted.

    Thanks for enlightening me about the history Murchison falls national park, Uganda.

    Your tips on the best time to visit and the activities to carry out when I do visit was very helpful.

    I will be traveling to Kenya in April and I plan to visit Uganda too, so this article is really timely.

    1. Etah, if you can make it to Kenya, you can as well make it to Uganda. I hope your plans wont change. See you in April.

  18. Firstly I wanna appreciate you for this wonderful piece. It’s one of my hobbies to tour the world when I am on holidays and this Murchison falls national Park, Uganda seem to be a perfect place to have my holidays. I’m also a fan of boat cruise so I have no doubt I am going to enjoy the place.i hope their suits there is affordable?. Anyways, thanks for this information.

    1. Seyi, accommodation at Murchison Falls National Park is affordable and it should not be a point of worry. It is a great place for holidays.

  19. My girlfriend and I love traveling. After reading your post, I’ve added Murchison Falls National Park to my bucket list of places to visit. I’ve always wanted to travel to Africa but didn’t really have an Idea of where I wanted to go but after reading your article, this definitely seems like a place I would like to visit one day 🙂 Well written and very informative!

    1. Corey, I am glad you have settled for this great national park and I am sure you and your girl friend will love it there. 
      Thank you for the positive comments, they are much appreciated.

  20. These pictures from Uganda are really breathtaking. The only thing I knew about Uganda prior to now, is that it’s capital is Kampala. The Murchison Falls National Park is very nice, and I will love to visit it someday. I do know Africa is a great continent, and filled with a lot of breathtaking tourist destinations. Regards

    1. Louis, I am glad that you know that there are more places in Uganda than Kampala; beautiful places that will leave an impression on you. It will be great when you finally visit and I wish you all the best with your preparations.

  21. Hi, Africa is a great continent with lots of natural tourist centres and wildlife establishment. I love most countries in Africa like Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and others I cant remember. What I mostly love about Africa is their penchant for wildlife especially wildlife like lions, giraffes and chimpanzees.

    The months for visitation of the Murchison falls sounds great, I particularly love the fact that the dry season stretches from December to February and June to September, this can afford one a wider opportunity to visit.  The picture of the Murchison falls look so clear and breathtaking at a glance. What a great sight to behold in real life.

    Thanks for mentioning facts one needs to know before visiting, especially  getting fishing equipment as I love fishing a lot.

    1. Gracen, Africa is a beautiful place with wildlife and natural features as major attractions. You mention you love fishing; I can assure you you will like the fishing experience at the Murchison Falls. I hope your travel plans will favour a visit to this wonderful park.

  22. Linus Udochukwu Marvellous

    I love this, I love what I just read. I love traveling a lot especially through sailing a lot and I also love visiting different destinations around the world. I have gone to different places that made me feel at home. After reading this article, I now have another destination to visit as I have now known how beautiful this place is

    1. Linus, I appreciate your comment and willingness to travel to Murchison Falls one day. Since you are a traveler, I am sure it is just a matter of time and you will tick this destination off your bucket list.

  23. What a nice article on Murchison falls national park in Uganda! I really like the short history of this national park. I found it very interesting in one way or the other and I wish to know more about it as the biggest and one of the best national parks in Uganda. It is really a nice place for tourism especially with all the tourism adventure activities to carryout there. It is not a place to miss out while on tour in Uganda.

    1. Ajibola, thank you for always visiting this site and leaving comments. It is good you liked the history of the park and the tourist activities it offers. So when you are in Uganda, you know how to spend your time the best way possible.

  24. Africa is the home for all, proudly African. My lineage is from Africa and there are lots of beautiful wildlife park, ranch, hills that are breathtaking where you can experience nature. Uganda is a place I would love to visit because of the Murchison Falls National Park, it looks amazingly beautiful. I hope someday I can fulfill my dream of visiting the country. Nature is really beautiful. 

    1. Once you have developed the idea to do anything, naturally your actions will work towards achieving that dream. I am positive you will be traveling over to visit this wonderful park and Uganda at large. There is no place like home.

  25. Wow! Africa and her so many natural tourist attraction centers. I have been Uganda several times in the last couple of year in official capacity and I must say I love the people and their culture but I have never been to this Murchison Falls National Park, I heard it looks spectacular. I heard it is very close to Bugungu Wildlife Reserve. Is this right? I wish to hear more of spectacular places in Uganda especially those close to Kampala as I mostly stay in the capital.

    Thanks for sharing, it looks captivating!

    1. Hello Jay, thank you for the remarks about the culture and people of Uganda because it is not only about the places we visit but the people we find as well. You are right! Bugungu Wildlife reserve is close to Murchison Falls National Park separated by a distance of about 33 kilometers.
      Since you are always in the capital whenever you visit Uganda, I recommend taking a 2-hour drive to Sezibwa Falls, North East of the capital, about 80kms. 

  26. The Murchison Falls is truly breathtaking and the fact that it can be reached by climbing is something that I enjoyed very much during my visit. It was a good way to incorporate exercise into our vacation. The National park was rich with beautiful views and sightings when we visited around June of 2013. And it been a long while, I think I should arrange another trip with my friends to Uganda. Did I mention the food around was awesome…. We had a great time. Unforgettable memories of the beauty of nature.

    1. Vapz, I am glad you visited the national park and can attest to the world what a beautiful place it is. You are a good ambassador. 
      I urge you to proceed with your plans for a second visit. There must be activities you missed the last time you visited over 5 years ago and many changes have taken place; for the better of course. 

  27. Thanks for this article. Very insightful. One of the things I like about the Murchison Falls is hiking the striking falls which take tourists about 45 minutes to get to the top of the indigenous falls. The Murchison Fall also have a sister fall known as Uhuru falls who’s name is derived from a Swahili word to mean Independence as this falls were formed during the time Uganda attained it’s Independence from the British colonialists. I read a lot about this wonderful creation. 

    This article has helped me to understand the precautions and safety applications during a tourist visit to the Murchison Falls like having to employ the service of a tour guide during the game drive and knowledge of standards time of boat cruise. Never leaving your hiking gear when engaging on hiking is a tip derive from reading this article. 

    However when considering visiting Murchison Fall for a vacation trip, one might want to think first the lodging, vehicular mobility comfort  and security,  in such trip. 

    1. You are right about Uhuru Falls. They have been overshadowed by their cousin, the Murchison Falls. The falls have slightly been affected by the construction of hydroelectric power dams along the Nile but remain a tourist attraction including the hiking around it. 
      The importance of getting comfortable lodging, transport and security should not be overlooked. All this can be arranged and catered for upon arrival at affordable rates.

  28. Thanks for opening our eyes to this Edgar,

    Murchinson Falls looks amazing, I’d love to have the opportunity to visit there one day. I long for a safari journey and I’m considering to visit there already this July to visit the falls and experience the beauties nature has to offer. Do you happen to know when would be the best season to visit there?

    1. Riaz, it is my pleasure that you have found this article an eye-opener to a natural wonder that you will be visiting in the near future. July is just around the corner for you to see with your eyes the beauty of this world that lies along the River Nile. July is a good time for you to visit because it offers the best weather, good wildlife viewing and sight of migratory birds.

  29. Thank you for sharing this great information about murchison falls national park.

    Africa is my dream place to visit, since I was a little kid, and after I read your article, I can see why, murchison falls is a must place to go.I been planning for years a vacation to Africa, which includes sud Africa, wakanda and now murchison falls, hopefully soon I can accomplish this dream.

    Usually in my vacation, I like to drive all around, do you recommend me doing this in Africa or is better to get a tourist guide?( because of the wild life)

    Great article and well explain it.

    Thank you 

    1. I hope your travel plans come to fruition soon so that you can have the experience to write home about.
      Of course, while moving into the national park, services of a tour and travel company are recommended. To drive in Uganda requires a valid driving permit and drivers keep left on the road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *