The Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern End of the AIbertine Rift Valley where the bulky Bunyoro escarpment merges into the vast plains of Acholi land. One of Uganda, s oldest conservation areas, it was initially gazetted
Murchison Falls has received many notable foreign visitors .In 1907, Winston Churchill hiked, boated and bicycle up the Nile Corridor to the fall. He was followed by Theodora Roosevelt In 1909 during hunting safari that cost by, today‘s prices, a Phenomenal US$1.8m;
In 1951, the fall provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s famous movie, The African Queen which was filmed on the location along the Murchison Niles on lake Albert .British royal have also visited Murchison, the price Of Wales (later Edward Vii) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959.
The least happy celebrity visitor was Ernest Hemingway in 1954 who literally dropped in .His intention was simply to over fly the w3aterfall but his plane clipped an old telegraph wire strung across the gorge and cart wheeled into the riverine forest . Hemingway and his wife were rescued and taken to Butiaba where their rescue plane crashed on takeoff.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which first races down 80km of whitewater rapid s rapid before plugging 40m over the remnant rift valley wall at Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park This water falls was named in 1986 by the explorer Samuel Baker who considered it the most important object through the entire course of the river.’ The falls drains the last of the river‘s energy transforming into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor for 55km to lakes Albert .This stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most.
Memorable wildlife spectacles. Regular visitors include elephants ,giraffe and buffalos while hippopotamus and crocodiles are permanent residents.
The park covers 3,893km2 and is Uganda‘s largest protection area. Today it is part of even larger Murchison Falls protection Area (5,072km) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugingu wildlife reserves.
The Albert Nile corridor is Uganda’s lowest area (612m at Delta point) and temperatures can be hot with a mean maximum of 290 C. The hottest times are mid of December to mid rainy seasons in April and November
How to get there
By road, the Nile crossing at Para in the center 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 enjoys spectacular 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 Packwach (25km to Paraa ), and Wankwar Gate near Purongo
UWA campsite exist at the top of the falls, Rabongo forest and Delta point .These sites provide pit latrines and in some cases, basic showers. Budget accommodation and camping is available at Red Chill Rest Camp and Kaniyo Pabidi Camp .More up market accommodation is provided by Nile Safari Camp, Sambiya River and Paraa Safari Lodges .In Masindi, the Masindi Hotel and Court View are recommended. .
Flora and fauna
The park is dominated by savanna woodland,rivers /wetlands and tropical forests habits which provide home for 76 mammals and 450 birds species . Large mammals include lion, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, Rothschild’s giraffe, Cape buffalo, hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog and Uganda kob. The Nile corridor provides year round water for this animals as wall as plethora of water birds including the rare shoebill stroke) and Uganda’s largest population of the crocodiles, The Kaniyo pabidi forests provide refuges for chimpanzee and other pigment as wall as an impressive 360 specie of birds.
Around the park
The Nile and Murchison Falls When the park was created in 1952 the game Department enthused. The main attractions of this park are undoubtedly the unique Murchison Falls and the river Nile with its teaming hippo and series ranks of crocodile on the sandbanks ,coupled with large numbers of other species … coming down to dink and bathe…
Today the highest of visit TO Murchison is the launch trip upstream to view the falls and riverside wildlife .The launch departs at 9:00 and 14:00n daily. The round trip takes three hours. An additional boat trip heads downstream from Paraa to the papyrus delta at the river’s entrance into Lake Albert .This 4-5 hour returns voyage offers a good chance of sighting the shoebill stork and a variety of other wild life.
The Nile below Murchison falls provides exciting challenges to anglers including the chance to land a massive Nile perch (the record is 108 Kg).Fishing is restricted to designated sites and places are limited so prior booking is recommended .Some boats may be hired for fishing by prior booking .Do bring your fishing equipment. The most dramatic view of the waterfall is the “Top of the fall” where the sight and sound of the Nile crashing through a 6m wide chasm make an unforgettable assault on the senses .This site may be reached either by vehicle or half hour climb after leaving the Paraa launch.
Rabongo and Kaniyo Pabidi Forests
Trail through Kaniyo Pabidi forest, 8Km inside Kichumbanyobo Gate, provide the opportunity to track chimpanzee and other primates beneath Uganda’s largest remaining Mahogany trees. Birding is excellent with the chance of sighting rarities such as the yellow footed fly catcher, Ituri Batis , and White thighed Horn bill , Nature walks are also offered at Rabongo forest.
The Park’s prime savanna game viewing area , this lovely grassland wilderness is sandwiched between the Victoria and Albert Niles with panoramic views towards the western wall of the rift valley beyond Lake Albert in the D.R Congo .A game drive from Paraa passing Delta point takes 304v hours . Early morning and late afternoon are the optimum times for sighting game .A UWA Ranger guide is recommended to help you make the most of your game drive.