Murchison Falls National Park, also known as Kabalega National Park, is one of Uganda’s largest and oldest national parks, located in the northwestern part of the country. It is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls, where the Nile River surges through a narrow gap in the Rift Valley escarpment, creating a powerful waterfall. The park is known for its diverse ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and the impressive falls.
The park is known for its diverse ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and the impressive falls. Among the notable visitors to the park are Uganda’s Idi Amin, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, and Queen Elizabeth.
Endowed with over 144 mammals, 556 bird species, 51 reptiles, and 51 Amphibians, it is also home to 4 of the Big 5 of Africa. This is a term coined in the 1800s by poachers, referring to what they considered the most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. These include the African elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and African buffalo. Track these beautiful creatures during the day or nighttime on the game drives.
The river Nile that flows through the park is home to schools of hippos, Nile crocodiles, and aquatic birds like the Shoebill stork. The riverbanks host frequent visitors like antelopes, elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes. For bird lovers, the park is also home to bird species like the dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, white-thighed hornbill, and great blue turaco. In the southern part of the park, primates like chimpanzees and baboons reign supreme. Get your hiking boots ready for chimp tracking in the dense forest cover of Budongo.
Highlights of Murchison Falls National Park
The iconic Murchison Falls is the centerpiece of the park. The Victoria Nile River forces its way through a 7-meter-wide gorge, plunging about 43 meters to create a powerful waterfall. The falls are a breathtaking spectacle and a major attraction within the park.
Murchison Falls National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles. The park’s diverse habitats, including savannah, riverine forests, and wetlands, support a rich array of animal species.
The park offers boat safaris along the Victoria Nile, providing visitors with the opportunity to see hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species. The boat trip to the base of Murchison Falls is a popular and scenic activity.
Game drives are a highlight of a visit to Murchison Falls National Park. Visitors can explore the park’s vast savannah landscapes, encountering wildlife such as lions, giraffes, antelopes, and more.
The park is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with over 450 bird species recorded. The riverbanks, wetlands, and forests are excellent areas for bird watching, and the park is home to the rare shoebill stork.
The Budongo Forest Reserve, which is part of the park, is known for its population of chimpanzees. Visitors can go chimpanzee tracking to observe these primates in their natural habitat.
The Nile, flowing through Murchison Falls National Park, is known for its diverse fish species. Sport fishing enthusiasts can engage in catch-and-release fishing for Nile perch and other fish species. The Nile perch in this area is known for its impressive size, making it a sought-after catch..
Community and Cultural Experiences:
Murchison Falls National Park is surrounded by communities, and cultural encounters are available for those interested in learning about the local people’s traditions, dances, and daily life. This park was once part of the anti-colonialist Omukama Chwa II Kabalega (1853 – April 6, 1923). He was the ruler of Bunyoro in Uganda from 1870 to 1899, and a celebrated hero who fought against British colonialism.