Home » 11 Best Tourist Attractions In Murchison Falls National Park
11 Best Tourist Attractions In Murchison Falls National Park
For those interested in visiting this park, there are a variety of amazing attractions in Murchison Falls National Park.
Below is a List of Murchison Falls National Park Attractions.
- 76 species of mammals including four of the Big Five, Giraffes, Hippos, & Crocodiles
- 451 bird species including the shoebills
- The River Nile – the world’s longest River
- Murchison Falls, the world’s most powerful waterfall
- The Nile-Lake Albert Delta is the best place in Africa to see the rare shoebill storks.
- Buligi peninsular, an area of rolling grassy studded with Borassus palms teeming with plain animals
- Paraa, the park’s tourism hub
- Kaniyo Pabidi forest, the home to chimpanzees, monkeys, and a variety of birds
- The Karuma Waterfall
- Cultural centers
Below is a detailed explanation of Murchison Falls National Park attractions that you will see during your travel to Uganda.
1. Animals In Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls Park host plentiful and diverse wildlife species as attractions in Murchison Falls National Park. The park is home to over 76 mammal species for travelers planning their wildlife safaris in Uganda
List of Major/Most Popular Wildlife Animals In Murchison Falls National Park
Elephants: Murchison Falls is one of the few areas where African elephants are increasing in number. An aerial survey counted 900 individuals in 2010 and 1330 in 2013, and anecdotal evidence suggests the number has subsequently increased.
Buffalos: The Buffalo population in Murchison Falls National Park has also increased from 4,000 in 1999 to over 10,000 today.
Lions: The lion population is incredibly estimated at a healthy 150 to 200 individuals split across 15 to 20 prides.
Leopards: The leopard population is also significant in numbers.
Besides the big five, the other park’s specialty is the Rothschild’s giraffes; the rarest of all giraffe races, often found here in large herds. Murchison Falls National Park actually supports the world’s largest population of Rothschild’s giraffes, currently estimated at around 1,250 individuals.
Historically, giraffes inhabit the sector north of the Nile, but some 20 individuals were translocated to the southern sector in 2016.
The main antelope in Murchison Falls National Park is the Uganda kob and big herds of them inhabit the grassy plains. The Uganda kob population has leaped from around 7,500 in 1999 to more than 3,5000 today.
If you watch these antelopes carefully, you won’t have any problems spotting lions.
Spotted hyenas are also present in significant numbers. Also common in varying degrees are;
- Jackson’s hartebeests
- Defassa waterbucks
- Bohor reedbucks
- Grey duiker, and
In the savannah and woodland areas, vervet monkeys, olive baboons and the localized patas monkey (the world’s fastest primate which can sprint from zero to 53 kilometers an hour in just three seconds.) thrive.
Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests harbor around 800 Chimpanzees (our closest relatives that share almost 99% of our DNA), black-and-white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and other primates.
Lastly, the Victoria Nile is home to many hippos and one of the largest populations of Nile crocodiles.
2. Birds In Murchison Falls National Park
This Park is home to over 451 bird species, and they are another set of attractions in Murchison Falls National Park. The checklist is headed by the shoebill, the main motivating fact behind many ornithological tours to Uganda.
Sightings of the shoebill in Murchison are almost guaranteed on a boat trip on the Victoria Nile towards the Lake Albert delta.
Other Bird Species In Murchison Falls National Park
Many other water-associated birds are prolific along the Nile River, while raptors make a strong showing on the checklist with 53 species recorded.
Murchison Falls National Park is the best place in East Africa to see the localized white-crested turaco, Red-headed lover bird, and red-winged grey warbler, all of which are associated with the riparian woodland in the vicinity of the southern bank camps running west from the Baker’s Lodge.
Key bird species in the northern plains include;
- Abyssinian Ground Hornbill,
- Denham’s bustard,
- Black-headed lapwing, and
- Black-billed barbet.
Kaniyo Pabidi forest supports a variety of localized forest bird species including;
- Green-breasted pitta
- Chocolate-backed kingfisher, and
- East Africa’s only known population of the localized Puvel’s illadopsis
More other birds to look for in Murchison Falls National Park while on your bird safaris in Uganda include;
- Grey-crowned crane (Uganda national bird)
- Goliath heron (the world’s largest heron species)
- Secretary Bird
- Great blue turaco
- Saddle-billed stork
- African Jacana
- Senegal thick-knee
- African quail finch
- Squacco heron
- Black-headed gonolek
- Eastern grey plantain-eater
- Giant kingfisher
- Malachite kingfisher
- Palm-nut vulture
- Red-throated bee-eater and many others.
3. Rive Nile – The Longest River In The World
Murchison Falls National Park’s most important geographical feature is the Nile River which bisects it for around 100 kilometers as it flows in a northwesterly and then southwesterly direction between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert.
River Nile is one of the Natural Wonders of Africa and is famous as the world’s longest river with its source beginning at Lake Victoria in Jinja in Uganda.
The Nile is approximately 6,650 km long and its drainage basin covers 11 countries. It is because of its fascinating history that many people visit Uganda.
Many tourist activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, and Kayaking are done on the Nile. However, in Murchison Falls National Park the perfect way to get a closer feel of the great Nile is by joining in on a Nile cruise to the bottom of the Murchison falls.
The lunch trip to the base of Murchison Falls has been the most popular tourist attraction in Murchison Falls National Park since Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother made the inaugural voyage in a spanking new boat back in 1959.
As you cruise on the Nile to the falls, you will see hundreds of hippos along with some of Africa are largest surviving crocodiles, small herds of buffaloes, Uganda kobs, elephants, giraffes, and bushbucks. Birdlife is also prolific here and key species include;
- African fish eagle
- Goliath heron
- Saddle-billed stork
- African jacana
- Pied and malachite kingfishers
- African skimmer
- Rock Pratincole
- Black-headed gonolek
- Black-winged red bishop
- Yellow-mantled widow bird
- Yellow-backed weaver, and
- Several migrant waders
4. The Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls is the most powerful waterfall in the World and it is the most spectacular thing to happen to the world’s longest river en route from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is not only one of the most astounding attractions in Murchison Falls National Park and the most visited spot in Uganda & Africa.
Here in Murchison Falls Park, you can hear, see, and feel the power of Nature as the historic River Nile; is squeezed into a narrow gorge-6 meters wide, dropping down 45 meters to the rift valley escarpment and then continuing its journey to the Mediterranean Sea.
History Of Murchison Falls
Murchison Falls is first alluded to in the writings of John Hanning Speke, who upon visiting Karuma Falls to the east in 1862 was told that a few other waterfalls lay downriver, ‘mostly of minor importance’ but ‘ one within ear sound…
Two years later, partially to fulfill the promise they had made to Speke, Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker became the first Europeans to explore the stretch of the river between Lake Albert and Karuma Falls. As they were paddling about 30 kilometers east of the estuary.
The falls later lent their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park. During the regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s, the name was changed to Kabalega Falls, after the Omukama (King) Kabalega of Bunyoro, although this was never legally promulgated.
The name reverted to Murchison Falls following the downfall of Amin. However, it is still sometimes referred to as Kabalega Falls.
5. Top Of The Falls View Point, Murchison Falls National Park
The great Murchison Falls is a stunning sight while on a boat cruise, but for sheer sensory overload. This is one of the thrilling attractions in Murchison Falls National Park on the southern bank north of Paraa Road. It is situated about 500 meters past Sambiya River Lodge.
From a car park, a short footpath leads downhill to the waterfall’s head and a fenced viewpoint from where you can truly appreciate the astonishing power with which the Nile thunder through the narrow gap in the escarpment, with a vociferous roar.
A footpath from this main viewpoint leads to Baker’s viewpoint on a ridge looking directly to the Murchison Falls as well as the broader Uhuru Falls about 100 meters to the north.
According to history, the Uhuru Falls was a seasonal feature until the great floods of 1962, when it was been more constant, but it is still subject to dramatic variation in Volume.
There is much wildlife in the vicinity of the falls. The ‘bat cliff immediately south of the main waterfall is a good place to spot raptors and swallows. Anubis baboons and black-and-colobus monkeys can also be spotted in the vicinity.
6. The Nile-Lake Albert Delta In Murchison Falls National Park
Lake Albert delta is another of the attractions in Murchison Falls National Park found on the southwestern side of Murchison. It is an expanse of lowland where the Nile River enters Lake Albert.
It is recognized as a Ramsar site and it is a significant area for safaris in Murchison Falls National Park. It is home to a lot of bird species and is significant as a hotspot for birding tours in Uganda.
A boat cruise downriver from Paraa to the Lake Albert Delta is one of the best opportunities for African safaris to see the rare shoebill, especially during the rainy season. Other unique birds species to see here include
- Goliath Herons
- African fish eagles
- Grey-crowned cranes
- Saddle-billed stork
- Denham’s bustard
- Black-winged and Spur-winged lapwing, and
- Senegal thick-knee
The tall acacia stands that line the Albert Nile Game viewing track here, immediately north of the junction with the Queen’s track host several woodland birds including;
- The rare black-billed barbets,
- Swallow-tailed bee-eaters,
- Northern carmine bee-eaters,
- Blue-breasted bee-eaters, and
- Red-throated bee-eaters,
Herds of grazers in this area, particularly buffaloes are often attended by insectivorous;
- Cattle egrets
- Red-billed oxpeckers
- Yellow-bellied oxpeckers
Animals to see in the Nile-Lake Albert Delta area include;
- Uganda kobs
- Defassa waterbucks
- Jackson’s hartebeests
- Patas monkey
- Side-stripe jackals
7. Buligi Peninsula In Murchison Falls National Park
This is a triangle of grassland crossed by game viewing tracks, bounded by the Victoria Nile entering Lake Albert, and the Albert Nile flowing out of it. This is among the best game viewing areas in Murchison Falls National Park.
Though this area is known as Buligi today, it was formerly known as Buligi, in reference to the far-carrying ‘bugle‘ reveille that routinely awoke General Gordon’s troops at nearby Fort Mugungo in the 1870s.
The area is characterized by scenic open savannah grassland studded with tall Borassus palms, woodland, and patches of whistling thorns, acacia, and riverine vegetation.
This area harbors herds of elephants, buffalo, several antelopes and giraffes, lions, and leopards. The swampy area of Buligi in the southeast attracts herds of elephants and water birds including the shoebills.
8. Paraa In Murchison Falls National Park
Paraa means a ‘place of hippos’ in the ‘Luo’ local language. The place is found on the southern bank of the Nile River.
Paraa is one of the outstanding attractions in Murchison Falls National Park. It is the main tourist hub in Murchison, where most of the Uganda safari activities including game drives, launch trips, and nature walks commence.
It is also where all park access roads converge as the northern and southern banks are linked by a passenger ferry.
The park headquarters lies also in Paraa, as does the park’s reception/ticket office.
Among the animals found within the Paraa area are 4 of the Big 5; lions, buffaloes, leopards, and elephants, in addition to giraffes, Uganda Kobs, Hartebeest, antelopes, crocodiles, Oribis plus many others.
Paraa is also the location of Paraa Safari Lodge, a luxury lodge in Murchison Falls Park with 60 rooms. Several other Uganda safari lodges are also located nearby.
9. Karuma Falls In Murchison Falls National Park
Karuma Falls are located in the northeastern sector of Murchison Falls National Park in Chobe. These roaring waterfalls on the Victoria Nile are made up of a series of natural rock formations which cause the waters to ripple and give them a white, foamy appearance.
The first plunge is an 80-kilometer long stretch of rapids ending at Murchison Falls. The Karuma actually represents a burst in the banks allowing the Nile to occur its present-day course towards the Rift Valley.
It is a worthwhile diversion, despite the fact that explorer John Speke who visited it in 1862, was sufficiently overwhelmed to record it by its local name.
Karuma falls has a name derived from the Luo local language meaning ‘Great Spirit ‘. The local people believe it is the spirit that positioned the rocks on which the water hits to form the white waters of Karuma falls.
10. Kaniyo Pabidi Forest In Murchison Falls National Park
Kaniyo Pabidi Forest is found in the south of Murchison Falls National Game Park. It covers an area of approximately 28 square kilometers within the middle of Murchison Falls Kichumbanyobo gate.
It hosts Uganda’s densest population of chimpanzees, recently estimated at around 6.5 individuals per square kilometers
Kaniyo Pabid is essentially a northeastern extension of Budongo Forest Reserve. Its Mahogany and ironwood trees harbour;
- Black and white colobus monkeys,
- Blue monkeys,
- Large troops of Anubis baboons,
- Red-tailed monkeys, and
- Vervet monkeys.
It also hosts Uganda’s densest population of an alluring selection of forest birds including;
- African shrike-flycatcher,
- Puvel’s illadopsis (found in no other place throughout the whole of East Africa),
- Chestnut wattle eye,
- Narina trogon,
- Little greenbul,
- Chestnut-winged starling,
- Grey Apalis,
- Dwarf Kingfisher,
- Pygmy kingfisher,
- Chocolate Backed Kingfisher,
- Great blue turacos,
- Several forest sunbirds and hornbills including the striking white thighed Hornbill
11. Rabongo Forest In Murchison Falls National Park
Rabongo Forest is found in the far southeast of Murchison Falls National Park. Surrounded by savanna and covering just 4km2, Rabongo Forest is considered a birders’ paradise because of the endangered species found here.
Rabongo is ideal for educational tours as it provides opportunities to identify animals, birds, medicinal plants, and trees. For relaxation, visitors can camp and enjoy picnics by the Wairingo River.
The forest also harbors chimpanzees, baboons, and Black and white Colobus monkeys in addition to the red tailed-monkeys.
Attractions Near Murchison Falls National Park
1. Budongo Forest Reserve
Covering an area of about 435 square kilometers, Budongo Forest is contiguous with the Kaniyo Pabidi Forest and lies south of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area.
Budongo is the biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa. The forest is astonishingly bio-diverse, with 24 mammal species, over 360 bird species, 289 species of butterflies, and 465 plant types.
Budongo hosts one of Uganda’s largest populations of chimpanzees. The forest is home to about 800 individuals. Other primates resident in the Budongo forest include;
- Red-tailed monkeys
- Blue monkeys
- Black-and-white colobus monkeys
- Potto, and
- Various species of galagos
The forest is occasionally visited by elephants and other large mammals associated with the adjacent Murchison Falls National Park. Tree pangolins, elephant-shrew, and gigantic hammerhead bats are also residents.
Budongo Forest Reserve is also one of the key destinations for visitors on ornithological safaris tours in Uganda.
Indeed, such is its avian wealth that the track is nicknamed the ‘Royal Mile’, because it was once a favorite hunt of Omukama (King) Kabalega of Bunyoro, and is widely regarded to be Uganda’s single most rewarding birding hotspot.
The Royal Mile, a 2.5-kilometer stretch of dirt road that runs north from Nyebya Forestry College Conservation Field Station. The sought-after bird species here include;
- African dwarf, blue-breasted, and chocolate-backed kingfishers
- Cassin’s hawk-eagle
- Nahan’s francolin
- White-thighed hornbill
- Yellow-billed barbet
- Lemon billed Crombec
- Black-capped Apalis
- Forest flycatcher
- Yellow-footed Flycatcher
- Jameson’s wattle-eye
The bird checklist of Budongo forest also includes 60 west and central African bird species known from not more than 5 locations in East Africa.
2. Bugungu Wildlife Reserve
Bugungu Wildlife Game Reserve forms part of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. This small reserve protects an area of savannah and swamp lying at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment to the west of Murchison Falls National Park. It supports several wildlife species as Murchison Falls National with;
- An estimated 1,250 oribis
- 600 Uganda kobs
- Black-and-colobus monkeys, and
- Olive baboons
About 240 species of birds have been recorded in Bugungu Wildlife Reserve including;
- Saddle-billed storks
- Abyssinian ground hornbills
- White-browed Sparrow Weaver,
- Black-bellied Bustards
- Dark chanting Goshawk,
- Eastern grey plantain-eater
- Black-billed wood dove,
3. Karuma Game Reserve
Karuma Wildlife Game Reserve is also with Murchison Falls Conservation Area. It is located on the Eastern border of the park. The reserve covers an area of 720km² (280 miles²). It was named after the thunderous Karuma falls.
Since Karuma Wildlife Reserve is adjacent to Murchison Falls Park, several animals cross from one area to the other. Notable animals in the wildlife reserve include;
- Cape buffaloes,
- African savannah elephants,
- Rothschild giraffes,
- Uganda kobs,
- Olive baboons,
- Black and white colobus monkeys, and
- Vervet monkeys.
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
A traveler who is interested in seeing all the Big Five animals during the Uganda wildlife tour to Murchison, should visit Ziwa Rhino sanctuary. Ziwa is the only place in Uganda where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild.
Ziwa is a not-for-profit project established to revive the population of the white rhino in Uganda following the intense poaching that happened during the 1990s that totally depleted this species from the Murchison Falls and Kidepo National parks where these animals previously lived. Today there are 22 southern white rhinos found at this sanctuary.
It is conveniently located about 100 miles north of Kampala on the Gulu highway toward Murchison Falls.
The sanctuary has become increasingly popular with tourists; for Shoebill Trek and Canoe Ride, Bird Watching, Night Walk, Nature Walk, and Relaxation.
People And Culture Around Murchison Falls National Park
Communities are a wonderful attraction in Murchison Falls National Park. This Park is situated in an area with a diverse group of people in Uganda. The eastern area of the park is dominated by Acholi people; the Alur people are found in the northwest and the Banyoro people of Bunyoro Kingdom are found in the southern region of the park.
All these people have unique cultural beliefs and travelers on an adventure safari in Uganda can have a thrilling encounter with these communities.
Mubako Community At Murchison Falls National Park
The remote community of Mubako is located beside the National Park and offers a unique cultural dance performance to tourists. At dusk, these local cultural groups perform vibrant songs and dances around the campfires of local lodges, accompanied by the beautiful sound of the adungu.
Originating from this region, the instrument is made of cowhide and twine, and the harmonies of the various-sized adungu against the backdrop of a Nile sunset are magical.
Boomu At Murchison Falls National Park
At Boomu you experience and get to know how it feels to be in an African village setting near Murchison falls in Kigaragara Village.
To have this to the fullest one can either have an overnight stay in traditional Bandas or spend a day on a village visit with the Boomu women’s group.
Boomu Women’s group was formed in 1999 aiming at reducing malnutrition and poverty levels and enabling children to go to school through the incomes received by the members.
During the 90’s the subsistence farmers in villages like Kigaragara and Kihaguzi had remained with little to receive from the group since the land was dry and little to sell also.
They started with making crafts, but of late what seemed small those days has greatly improved and into now a tourism community project with amazing village guided visits, gardens, a restaurant, and traditionally made accommodations.
The word “Boomu” means “together” so while here you get a chance to see people work together.
While at Boomu, you will experience how herbal medicine is made, craft making, cultivation, homestays, locally cooking food and preparing it, and cultural performances like music and dances among others.
There is a great opportunity of participating in all these activities and you can support the community by buying souvenirs that are made there. It leaves one with an unforgettable experience of African village culture.