Birding in Murchison Falls National Park; Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northwest region of Uganda and is well-known for its vast wildlife diversity and multiple ecosystems, including riverine woodlands, dense tropical rainforests in the Southern section

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

February 20, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park; Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northwest region of Uganda and is well-known for its vast wildlife diversity and multiple ecosystems, including riverine woodlands, dense tropical rainforests in the Southern section, and rolling savannah grasslands. The park is home to over 451 unique bird species, such as the Guinea-Congo biome endemic bird species, waterfowls, nocturnal birds, migratory birds, and the pre-historic Shoebill stork.

Established in 1952, Murchison Falls National Park is situated on the Kampala-Gulu highway towards Masindi district. It is Uganda’s largest national park, stretching approximately 3,840 km east of Lake Albert. The park boasts various bird-watching trails, including a Nile guided hike, a waterfall hike, a safari vehicle ride, a boat trip on the Victoria Nile and the Albert Delta, and a nature walks in the Budongo forest both in the Kaniyo Pabid and Royal Mile offering the best birding opportunities in Central East Africa and the highest chances of seeing the skulking Puvel’s Illadopsis .

These trails offer a unique opportunity to vividly observe various peculiar bird species that cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa, such as the Ituri Batis, Chestnut-Capped flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Nahan’s Partridge,  White-thighed and Congo Pied Hornbill, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Uganda Woodland Warbler Forest Robin among others.

 Notable bird species found in Murchison Falls National Park:

  • Yellow-fronted tinkerbird
  • Shoebill stork
  • Weaver birds
  • Gray-crowned crested crane
  • African jacana
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Black-headed lapwing
  • Standard-winged Nightjar
  • Martial eagle
  • Malachite Kingfishers
  • The occasional Secretary bird
  • Pied Kingfishers
  • Sandpipers
  • Red-throated Bee-eater
  • Speckle-fronted Weaver
  • Denham’s Bustard
  • Blue-headed Coucal
  • Giant heron
  • Osprey
  • Rock Pratincole
  • Black billed barbet
  • Long-toed plover
  • Murchison- African Darter
  • Senegal Thick-knee
  • Giant kingfisher
  • Vinaceous Dove
  • Red-winged Grey-warbler
  • Swamp flycatcher
  • Northern Carmine Bee-eater
  • Black Scimiterbill
  • Black-billed Wood-dove
  • Red-winged Warbler
  • Dark Chanting Goshawk
  • Grasshopper Buzzard
  • Northern Red-bishop
  • Green-wood Hoopoe

How to do Birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

The Murchison Falls National Park is an ideal location for bird watching, and the best way to do it is by participating in adventure safaris activities such as game drives during morning and evening drives, which follow different circuits like Albert track, Queen’s track, Buligi track, the Victoria Track and others.

You can also observe birds during nature walks across savannah grasslands while hiking to the top of the falls. You can also go on boat cruises down the Nile, along the Victoria Nile and the Albert Delta, which pores its waters into Lake Albert and offers great chances of seeing the rare prehistoric Shoebill stork Additionally, forest walks through Budongo forest provide an opportunity to see both common and uncommon birds such as the, Forest Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted, Hairy-breasted and Yellow-billed Barbet, Blue-spotted dove, White-thighed Hornbill, Black-billed Turaco, Red-throated bee-eater, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, and many others.

What to take for a birding safari in Murchison Falls National Park.

 When exploring the birding trails in Murchison Falls National Park, it’s important to have the right equipment to enhance your birding experience. Binoculars are essential for getting a clear view of different bird species around you. However, if you want to see a bird from a distance, you’ll probably need the help of a telescope mostly for the forest birding. Telescopes are also useful for observing birds more closely and identifying them better. Other important items to bring include good hiking boots, long-sleeved pants and shirts, waterproof jackets, a camera and camera backpack, drinking water, optics cleaners, a notebook and pen, insect repellent, a hat, field guide books, among others

Cost for birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park costs $30 per person for non-resident foreigners, $25 per person for non-residents, and UGX 20000 per person for East African citizens, excluding other activities and park entrance fees.

 Why Guided nature walks are conducted during birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Nature walk involves exploring and appreciating nature on foot, including flora and fauna such as plant and animal species, insects, tree species, and butterflies, guided by an experienced guide. Guided nature walks in Murchison Falls National Park can be conducted through Kaniyo pabidi, Rabongo forest, the Paraa Trail, The Royal Mile and Busingiro areas and on adventure safaris. Wilderness hiking experiences will always reward bird watchers and nature lovers with breathtaking views of the wildlife of Murchison Falls National Park.

 Bird, animal, tree and insect species are all at your disposal as you hike through low hills and roaring water falls of Murchison Falls where the park derives its name as you trek through the low hills, gullies and riverine forests which are sights of numerous bird species such as the Swamp Flycatcher, Giant Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, Osprey, African Cuckoo-hawk, Red-throated Bee-eater, The Rock Pratincole, Wire-tailed Swallow among others.

Is Murchison Falls National Park worth it?

Murchison Falls National Park welcomes more visitors each year than any other park in the country and is perhaps one of the best destinations that offer tourists an enriching safari in Uganda. With fantastic and exciting popular activities such as bird watching, chimpanzee tracking, game drives, boat cruises, sport fishing, adventure safaris, launch trips, cultural safaris, and hikes to the spectacular falls, considered to be the most powerful in the world, where every second, the equivalent of 200 bathtubs of water is pushed through a narrow 7-meter gorge and 45 meters downstream into the waters of the Victoria Nile.

The park is home to many wildlife species with over 76 species including the commonly known big four such as lions, leopards, elephants, and Cape Buffaloes as well as other animals such as warthogs, antelopes, Giraffes, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Oribi and Crocodiles, hippos, Budongo forest primates, and Kaniyo pabidi, including chimpanzees, Patas monkeys, Olive baboons, Black and white colobus monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, Tree Hyrax and others.

Best time for birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Birding in Murchison Falls is possible all year round, but is best during the low season for tourists from January to March when birds are more active, particularly migratory birds present from November to April. Rainfall is always low from December to February and abundant from April to May and September to November. During heavy rains, roads are still impassable and slippery as most breeding grounds are in remote areas, making bird watching difficult but with the 4X4 at Journeys Uganda with experienced guides, we always make it to all corners of the park with great wildlife finds.

Where to stay on a birding safari in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is blessed with quite several accommodation facilities ranging from budget, mid-range, and luxury and these include; Murchison River Lodge, Tilenga Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, Fort Murchison Lodge, Murchison Falls Bamboo Village, Red chill rest camp, Nile safari lodge, Budongo eco lodge, chobe safari lodge, Baker’s lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge and others.

Other activities in Murchison Falls National Park

In addition to bird watching, the park offers tourists the opportunity to have fun and take part in exciting, spectacular, and unforgettable adventures. These include; Nature walks and hiking to the top of the falls with magnificent and spectacular views, a boat cruise at the foot of the waterfalls along the Victoria Nile and the Albert Delta where you can admire Nile crocodiles and hippos, game drives where you can see various animals such as giraffes, buffaloes, waterbucks, elephants, oribis, jackals, sport fishing where tourists directly catch various species of fish such as tilapia, Nile perch, cultural tours where tourists interact with the local population and others,

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

The park is located in northwestern Uganda and can be reached by various means of transport where you can book scheduled or charter flights with Aero Link Uganda from Entebbe airport or via Kajansi airfield to Pakuba, Bugungu, or Chobe airstrips and then connect to the park headquarters.

Murchison Falls National Park can be reached by road about 5-6 hours from Kampala-Gulu highway, turning off at Masindi towards Parkwach by safari vehicle to the park headquarters Kichombonyobo gate.

Bird watching is a famous and tremendous safari activity in the scenic Murchison Falls National Park, one of the best destinations in Africa. However, it can be combined with other stunning tourist attractions like wildlife safaris, making it a perfect unforgettable safari.

In addition to Murchison Falls National Park, the same unique birding activity can also be enjoyed in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki National Park, Kibale National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park among others.

For detailed itineraries of these attractions, please contact us at  Journeys Uganda via email.