Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda
is the oldest and with 3877 km2 the largest park in the East African country.
Located about 305 km from Kampala, the park ranges from 625 to 1300 meters above sea level. The national park is divided by the Nile River.
It is a wonderful place to observe animals on game drives. Besides big game like lions, elephants, buffaloes and leopards, antelopes, warthogs – the famous warthogs from “The Lion King” movie – you can also see the rare Rothschild giraffes.
Landscape in Murchison Falls National Park
Savannahs and open grasslands alternate in Murchison Falls National Park with hilly landscapes and, in the south, the tropical Rabongo Forest.
There is less wildlife in the south then in the north of the National Park.
The Murchison Falls are located in the north of the park and offer a breathtaking spectacle. The highest waterfall here plunges 43 meters into the depths.
As a tip: There is a small path along the waterfall to the top. Make sure to go up. Where water dust and sun comes together, rainbows appear.
There you get a chance for a spectacular photo motive!
Animals in Murchison Falls National Park
Lions and leopards can be seen during a game drive. However, it is advisable to get a tour guide from the park for this game drive. Some of the lions carry trackers. This gives the guide an opportunity to locate them, if needed.
The many Rothschild giraffes are a great photo motive. Of course, so do the numerous antelopes, warthogs and water buffalos.
The elephants are often found near the bridge over the Nile and unfortunately not so numerous. In the 1970s, poaching became a severe problem under the ruler Idi Amin in those days. From the originally more than 12000 elephants only 2000 were left after a few years.
Numerous hippos can be seen in the Nile and also the typical Nile crocodile can be admired – from a safe distance. Boat tours on the Nile offer a great opportunity to spot crocodiles and Hippos from a close distance and there are tours offered directly to the bottom of the Murchison Falls.
If you want to see the Big 5 you have to book a tour at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. There are no free living rhinos in the park.
The entrance fee at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is $45 per person and the tour takes about 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
More than 400 different bird species are known in Murchison Falls National Park. Among them the largest heron in the world, the Goliath heron, little bittern, storks, pelicans, kingfishers, cranes, gray-headed sparrows. Birds of prey can also be found. Various eagles and kites and, of course, the vultures patrol the sky looking for prey.
In March and April there is a chance to see migratory birds native to Europe wintering here.
Best time to visit Murchison Falls National Park
As in almost all national parks in Uganda, the best time to visit is June to September and then again December to about March.
With an off-road vehicle you can, of course, also drive in the park during the rainy season, but then many of the paths can get challenging.
Murchison Falls National Park Safaris & Game Drives
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are possible without a guide.
But for some reasons it is better to get one. The chances are much higher to really see lions and maybe even leopards. We highly recommend to book a guide.
You will have more fun and see more. The guide will also give you a lot of side information, which you won’t get without the guide.
Opening hours and how to get there
Opening hours: daily 07:00 – 19:00
Entry fee: $45,- per person (non residents) plus 30.000 UGX per car.
Best time for game drives:
In the morning starting at 6:00 am (therefore you should stay at least one night in one of the lodges in the park) and in the afternoon from about 16:00.
If you are staying outside the National Park, you can enter at 7:00 am. At this point we recommend to take the Entry-gate at Buliisa in the north-west of the park, which is not far from the Game Drive. You will reach the guides office in about 15 minutes. The main roads are tarmac roads, which makes it easy to get around.
If you are going for an afternoon game drive, take into account, that the park closes at 19:00. If you are staying outside the park, you have to leave before.
For a more relaxed experience there are lodges within the National Park, where you can stay overnight.
Facts about Murchison Falls National Park
- founded in 1952
- oldest national park in Uganda
- largest National Park in Uganda
- about the size of Luxembourg
- in the 70’s and 80’s big problems with poaching