How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

March 19, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park: located on the North-western edge of Uganda, it covers approximately 3,840 square kilometers (384,000 hectares) of wilderness on both sides of the Nile River, east of Lake Albert and west of Karuma Falls. It is one of Uganda’s oldest and largest protected areas and was once Africa’s most visited park. Murchison Falls: Also known as Kabalega Falls, Murchison Falls is a magnificent waterfall situated between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the Victoria Nile. Here, approximately 300 cubic meters of water per second is forced through a narrow gorge just seven meters wide before plunging 43 meters in a cloud of mist and churning water. The falls are lined by lush plant life and can be viewed from above after a short hike or from below in a boat.

Wildlife and Habitats: Murchison Falls National Park is home to diverse ecosystems, including vast tracts of savannah-woodland, tropical forests, grasslands, and wetlands. The park’s landscape is dotted with Borassus palms. It hosts an impressive array of wildlife, including 76 species of mammals and 451 bird species. Notably, it boasts the second-largest elephant population in Uganda.

Historical Significance: The park’s history is rich and intriguing. The ruins of the old Pakuba Lodge, once a grand establishment overlooking Lake Albert, whisper tales of its past. Former Ugandan President Idi Amin used to gather here with his inner circle to plot and plan their dominance over the region’s people. Today, the wild has reclaimed Pakuba Lodge, with Lions, Hyenas, Leopards, Baboons, and Elephants making it their home.

Resilience and Healing: Murchison Falls National Park symbolises the resilience of Africa’s wild. Despite its tumultuous past, it has gradually healed, showcasing the astonishing recovery of both the park and Uganda itself. The falls, surrounded by lush greenery, stand as a testament to nature’s ability to reclaim and rejuvenate.

How to access Murchison Falls National Park

Whether you’re interested in wildlife, stunning landscapes, or historical intrigue, Murchison Falls National Park offers an unforgettable experience for visitors and is indeed a remarkable destination known for its breathtaking waterfall, diverse wildlife, and stunning landscapes. Here are the details on how to access this incredible park:

Road Travel Option:

If you prefer ground travel, the most common way to reach Murchison Falls National Park is by road using the Kampala-Gulu highway and you branch off from Kafu to Masindi which is the major gateway from the southern section. The journey takes approximately 5–6 hours, and you can explore the scenic route attractions, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

Gates: There are four gates to enter the park from the northern banks of the Nile: Tangi, Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako, Bugungu and Kicyumbanyobo, Gate is approximately 5.5 hours from Kampala. If you’re travelling from Gulu, you can reach the northern gates in under 3 hours.

Road Conditions: Be prepared for varying road conditions, including both paved and unpaved sections. mostly from the north, but due to oil exploration, most of the roads have now been worked on and paved from Masindi to Pakwach.

Domestic Flights: Visitors can take a domestic flight from Entebbe International Airport to Chobe, Pakuba and Bugungu  Airstrips. This option provides a quicker and more convenient way to access the park.

Chobe Airstrip:

Location: Chobe Airstrip is a privately owned airstrip situated near Chobe Safari Lodge within Murchison Falls National Park and serves as a convenient entry point for visitors arriving by air. Due to its strategic location, you can book your overnight stay at Chobe Safari Lodge and start your exciting excursions in Murchison Falls National Park from here.

Other Airstrips in Murchison Falls National Park:

      • Pakuba Airstrip: Located in the northern sector of the park, Pakuba Airstrip is ideal for tourists seeking accommodation in that area. Domestic flights depart from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield and are operated by Aero Link or Air Uganda.
      • Bugungu Airstrip: Situated in the southern sector of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu Airstrip is another option. Flights are operated by Aero Link and Air Uganda.

Wildlife: Murchison Falls National Park is home to the “Big Four” mammals (Lions, Elephants, Buffalo and Leopards), as well as Chimpanzees, Birds, Schools of Hippos, Nile Crocodiles, and other animals.

Safari: Don’t miss a game drive to spot Giraffes, Elephants, Cape Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Oribi, Jackson’s Hartebeest and Warthogs. Evening drives offer the best chance to see Lions and Leopards.

Historical Visitors: Notable visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, and even Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Activities to do at Murchison Falls National Park

The park offers a plethora of exciting activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some additional details on what you can do during your visit:

Boat Safaris on the Nile River:

Explore the Nile River by taking a boat safari. Witness the powerful Murchison Falls from the water, as the river narrows and plunges through a narrow gorge. Keep an eye out for hippos, crocodiles, and various bird species along the way.

Bird Watching:

Murchison Falls is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. The park is home to over 450 bird species, including the rare Shoebill Stork. Grab your binoculars and explore the diverse avian life such as the Senegal Thick-knee, Denham’s Bustard, Long-toed Lapwing, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, and Black-billed Barbet, among others. the southern part of the park offers great birding in the tropical rainforests of Budongo with Guinea-Congo biome rarities like the Ituri Batis, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Chestnut-crowned Flycatcher, White-thighed Hornbill, Rufous-crowned Eremomela among others.

Chimpanzee Tracking:

Head to the Budongo Forest Reserve, which is adjacent to the park, for an unforgettable chimpanzee tracking experience. Observe these intelligent primates in their natural habitat.

Hiking and Nature Walks:

Embark on guided hikes and nature walks to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems. Discover hidden waterfalls, lush forests, and scenic viewpoints. The Top of the Falls hike provides stunning panoramic views of the Nile.

Game Drives:

Hop into a safari vehicle and venture into the wilderness. Spot lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, and more. The Delta area is particularly rich in wildlife.

Fishing:

The Nile River within the park is excellent for fishing. Catch species like Nile perch, catfish, and tilapia. Fishing permits are available.

Cultural Encounters:

Visit the nearby Boomu Women’s Group or Mubako Community Tourism Association to learn about local culture, crafts, and traditions. Interact with the community and support their initiatives.

Hot Air Balloon Safaris:

For a unique perspective, consider a hot-air balloon safari. Soar above the savannah and witness the park’s beauty from the sky.

Remember to follow park rules, respect wildlife, and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the park! Feel free to carry your camera, and immerse yourself in the serene and restful nature of Murchison Falls National Park.