Murchison Falls conservation area is the largest protected wildlife area in Uganda, with 5.025kms, including Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, Karuma Wildlife Reserve and, in the South, Budongo Forest. 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.
What to see in Murchison Falls National Park?
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.
What to do?
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.
Murchison Falls N.P 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.
Where to stay?
Murchison 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). There are also several accommodation hotels and lodges in Masindi town.