Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park/, Safari Game Viewing Drives are one of the extremely breathtaking safari activities in the park.
And, Murchison falls park is among the best savannah national parks in Uganda to enjoy wildlife safari game drives from.
While on this tourist activity, you get a chance to enjoy up-close views of the different Uganda safari animals like Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Buffaloes, Giraffes, Uganda Kobs, and Warthogs.
Most of the safari game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are done in the northern sector.
It’s because it has the highest concentration of Uganda wildlife dwelling within the grassland savannah and acacia woodland vegetation.
Thick bushes and forest vegetation cover the southern sector. However, antelopes, primates, and giraffes, translocated into the sector in 2016 are the main inhabits of the area.
This sector is also famously known as the “Heart of Murchison.”
You can enjoy game drives in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda in several designated game viewing areas.
The main areas are the Buligi Peninsula, along the Albert shores where there are great chances of seeing the Lions. They are seen in wait for prey as they go to the shores to refresh.
Types Of Game Drives Done In Murchison Falls National Park
On your Uganda wildlife safaris in Murchison falls park, you can expect two types of game drives within the park. These are self-game drives and guided game drives.
Each of the drives is unique and depends on the tourists’ nature and feeling about the African bush wilderness.
Self-Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Self-game drives is where one is behind the wheel and decides for themselves where to go. This is mostly for those who have rented cars and want to experience Africa while driving themselves.
The drives are more adventurous as you be in the wild somewhere alone with no one near you.
Self-game drives are more flexible as your better consider your interests. Like you decide if you want to see more of the giraffes than buffaloes.
However, All That Said, There Are A Few Downsides Of Self-Game Drives.
Self-drives limit you from seeing most of the animals as you don’t know the right spots to locate individual animals.
You may get stuck in the sandy muddy trails and there is no one to help you out. Some trails become terrible to access depending on the weather conditions.
It might be difficult to calculate time in some instances when you follow long trails. This can lead to penalties for overdriving in the park during the wrong hours.
Also, self-game drives are prohibited in the park during night hours.
What You Need During Self-Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
- When doing self-game drives in the park, an armed ranger has to escort you. The ranger is well conversant with the park and knows where to locate individual animals.
- In case of any attack on an animal, he can shoot to scare away the animal providing more safety.
- The vehicle you are using should have a GPS tracking system to know the routes to follow. However, most Ugandan cars lack GPS systems and that’s when a map works as a substitute.
- Always carry a mobile working phone with a local network provider. In case of any problems, you can always call your lodge or your travel agent for assistance.
Guided Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
A guided safari game drive is where one or more tourists are led by certified guides (driver guides) or rangers. The guides and rangers are well knowledgeable about the park’s history and wildlife.
Guided game drives in Murchison Falls National Park can be made private increasing the excitement of the activity.
Rangers or guides give you full details and information about animals and the local culture. This kind of information is miss out for those on self-game drives.
Local guides and rangers know most of the behaviors of Uganda animals as they see them regularly or frequently. This means that they know the key spots to sight animal individuals.
When on a guided game drive in Murchison falls park, rangers have walkie-talkies that they use for sharing details of irregular sightings.
Guided game drives give you opportunities of enjoying and learn about wildlife while in nature on a Uganda tour.
Self-Game Drives Versus (Vs) Guided Safari Game Drives
Guided Safari Drives Over Self-Game Drives
- During Guided safari game drives, you don’t have to drive at all, you relax enjoying sightings unlike for self-game drives.
- Some of the guided safari game drives done have different people from different countries. So, you get to make new friends which is not with self-game drives.
- On guided game drives, rangers and guides do the tracking of animals. All you are required from is to sit back and wait to see the animals unlike self-game drives.
Self-Game Drives Over Guided Safari Game Drives
- On self-game drives, there is the ability of following your own schedule unlike for guided game drives.
- While on self-game drives, you are your own navigator as you follow whatever track you like unlike for guided game drives.
- If you are a photographer, self-game drives are more convenient compared guided drives as you get more time of photography.
Where To Do Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park?
Safari game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are done in the Northern and Southern sectors of the park.
When doing game drives, several tracks are followed like the Buligi Track, Victoria track, and the Albert Track. Other game tracks are Pakuba Track, Chobe track, Tebito track, and Honeymoon track.
Game Drives In The Northern Sector In Murchison Falls National Park
Most game drives take place in the northern sector because it has a high concentration of Uganda Wildlife.
Game drives in the northern sector are mostly done in the Buligi area. The Buligi area divides the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile as they course in and out of Lake Albert.
It is made of 170km of tracks that roll through open savanna grasslands, acacia, woodland, and riverine vegetation.
You can see many animals of Uganda like Lions, Buffaloes, Herds of Elephants, Giraffes, Leopards, Uganda Kob, within the Buligi area.
And birds include Denham’s Bustard, Flycatchers, Oxpeckers, African Jacana, Crested Cranes, etc.
A series of game tracks in the Buligi area are the
- Buligi Track and the Delta Game Viewing Circuit
- Victoria Track,
- Pakuba Track
- Chobe Track
- Tebito Track.
The Buligi Track And The Delta Game Viewing Circuit, Murchison Falls National Park
Buligi track is the finest and most used track for safari game drives in Murchison park on your safari in Uganda.
The track is 7kms away from the Paraa area passing through dense thickets, acacia forest patches, Borassus palms, and savannah grasslands.
The wildlife of Uganda long the Buligi track, will mesmerize you!
- Elephant herds
- Buffaloes roam in the grasslands
- Uganda kob
- Giraffes are notable and eye-catching.
You can also see phenomenal Uganda bird species on tree logs and tree figs whistling and shrieking in the air.
These birds include:
|· Secretary bird|
· Abyssinian ground hornbill
· Denham’s Bustard
· Nubian Woodpeckers
· Northern carmine bee-eater
· Denham’s Bustard
· European Roller
· Abyssinian Roller
|· Palm-Nut Vulture|
· Martial Eagle
· Black-Breasted Snake Eagle
· Long Crested Eagle
· Lappet-Faced Vulture
· Hadada Ibis
· Purple Starlings
Many tracks connect to the Buligi track from different directions and it leads to the Delta game-viewing circuit.
Sightings here are conspicuous and outstanding with several breeding grounds of the Uganda Kobs, Defassa waterbucks, Hartebeests, and Oribis.
Many Lion Prides have been drawn to the area because of the concentration of the antelope species. On a good day, you can atleast see 2 lion prides on the shores with individuals wrestling each other.
The other remarkable feature of this place is the Rothschild’s Giraffe herds, which often number 50 or more.
You cannot witness this anywhere while on a Uganda tour, and significant herds of buffaloes are also common around the delta circuit.
While at the Delta circuit, look out for the known Hippo point where several hippos come out of the water to graze.
Feel free and at peace to step out of the car and stroll down to the shore to gawp at the profusion of hippos.
The Delta area offers excellent bird-watching opportunities. The common noticeable birds around are; the Abyssinian ground hornbill, Gray-crowned cranes, the Saddle-Billed Stork, and the Denham Bustard, etc.
1. Victoria Nile Track
The Victoria Nile Track is a 17km circuit running between the Buligi track and Queen’s track leading to and from the Delta. This track inter-connects with other game tracks making wildlife viewing excellent.
This track is mostly used for glimpsing and observing lionesses and their cubs. Expecting lionesses come to the surrounding areas of the track and Queen’s track to prepare for birth.
The thick bushes around the track provide a hiding buffer for the cubs after birth from enemies.
Even though the Victoria track is a bit far from the delta, it has more wildlife near its surroundings like Elephants, Buffaloes, Hartebeests, Uganda kob, and birds.
2. Queens Track
The Queen’s Track is the shortest among all game tracks in Murchison Falls National Park though the most productive for game viewing. The 10km track is smooth and links up with the Albert Track and Victoria Track.
It is dynamic for those who want to spot Lions, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Uganda Kob, and Jackson’s Hartebeest.
Queen’s Track hosts good woodland birds like the rare black-billed barbet and delightfully colorful swallow-tailed, northern Carmine, blue-breasted, and red-throated bee-eaters.
Herds of grazers-in particular buffalos are often attended by flocks of cattle egrets, Piapiac, and red-billed and yellow-billed-ox-peckers.
3. Pakuba Track
Pakuba Track is a 17km stretching circuit connecting to Albert Nile and the Buligi game tracks as well as Tangi gate. The game track is more convenient for those sleeping outside of the park who wish to access it easily.
It links to the Pakuba airstrip and is used for picking up and dropping off clients.
While driving in the vicinity of Pakuba, you can keep an eye on the canopy for the sitting lions and a large occasional leopard. These predators are frequently seen near Pakuba Safari Lodge or along the road that connects it to the Albert Nile Track.
4. Tebito Track
Tebito track is situated not far from the top of the falls. This track bridges the Wankar gate in the northern sector of the park with the Chobe track.
It is mostly used for picking up or dropping off clients at the top of Murchison Falls.
Animals are not rare at this track though bird species like Eastern grey plantain-eater, Blue-headed coucal, Black-billed barbet, African quail finch, etc. are common.
5. Chobe Track
Chobe track starts from Chobe Safari Lodge stretching to a distance of about 67km. The game track links to Tebito Track junction and Karuma Falls. The main intention of the track was to connect Chobe Safari Lodge to Karuma Falls.
Olive Baboons are commonly spotted along the track with Elephants and Buffaloes. The track passes in passes through dense acacia forest patches that will be enticing to birdwatchers.
Visitors sleeping in the Southern sector can always do safari game drives in the northern sector. They will have to drive and cross the bridge that connects to the Paraa area and continue with the game drive.
Game Drives In The Southern Sector (Heart Of Murchison) In Murchison Falls National Park
The Heart of Murchison lies 20km east of the Masindi-Paraa road in the southern region of Murchison falls park. In this area, wildlife viewing is less prolific and more skittish than it is on the Buligi and Delta circuit.
Guests are recommended to conduct game drives in the northern sector if ticking off the Big Four is your priority. A few visitors head out for game drives in the sector hence making it a more real wilderness feel.
Lions are attracted to the area because of the concentration of Uganda Kobs leading to the rise of Uganda wildlife in the sector.
Along the Honeymoon Track you can see Elephants, Buffaloes, and Giraffes that were translocated from the northern bank in January 2016.
The Kob and Hartebeest loops, stretch through thick woodland and bushes making an extension to the top of the falls. Visitors mostly use them during their stay at Sambiya River Lodge.
The loops continue rolling through open green hilly areas where Uganda Kobs, Jack’s Hartebeests, Waterbucks, Anubis Baboons, and Oribi are plentiful.
When To Go For Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
You can do Uganda safari game drives in Murchison falls park either during day time or at nighttime.
Daytime Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Visitors can enjoy daytime game drives in Murchison Falls National Park either in the morning or in the afternoon.
Both morning and afternoon safari game drives are unique in their way.
Morning Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Morning game drives are a perfect opportunity to seek out various animals in Murchison Falls National Park. This is when the land is cool and the animals are most active.
The drives usually start at around 6:00-6:30 am when the sun is starting to rise. The morning drives can go up to 10 am.
You can have an early morning cup of coffee or a simple pre-breakfast snack as you await the activity.
Anything is possible and sightings come quickly.
Since you are driving in open Savannah, the morning wind can be harsh but temperatures rise quickly. In that case, you can put on layers.
On some lucky mornings, the sun rises with a golden glow which is perfect for wildlife photography.
After a few hours of driving and sighting wildlife, you can return to the lodge for breakfast at around 10 am. Or you can choose to have a bush breakfast.
Enjoying a cup of coffee looking at the far horizon of the wilderness is exceptional on your Uganda vacation.
Murchison Falls National Park Animals That Can Be Spotted During Morning Game Drives Are;
- Uganda Kob
- Bush Pigs and so many other animals.
Some of the bird species that can be sighted include:
- Secretary bird
- African Jacana
- African Quail Finch,
- Black-Billed Barbet
- Denham’s Bustard
- Goliath Heron
- White Thighed Hornbill
- Black Headed Lapwing
- Cattle Egrets
- Grey Crowned Cranes and many birds all in one park.
Afternoon Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Afternoon game drives are a great chance to sight animals moving across the plain savannah grasslands during your Uganda safari.
The drives mostly start between 2 pm-3 pm after a thriving lunch and can go up to 5 pm.
Tourists can spot Giraffes in groups of 50 and more while feeding on acacia treetops. You get to enjoy seeing Lions playing while stalking and wrestling each other around the shores of Lake Albert.
Also you see Herds of Buffaloes, Elephants, and Uganda Kobs wandering in the Savannah grasslands.
Photography and videography are best during afternoon game drives as the clouds are clear enough to provide excellent lighting.
The drives can last until the fabled African sunset. The sun can turn different iconic colors, it turns red or orange as it falls into the hills. This is best enjoyed when your guide stops the car and you watch the sundowner as you sip your favorite drink.
After enjoying the afternoon game drives in Murchison Falls National Park, you can return to your lodge for dinner.
Fees For Day Game Drives in Murchison Falls Park
Daytime game driving fees exclude park entrance fees.
|Visitor Category||Fees(Per Person)|
|East African citizen||UGX30,000|
Night Game Drives in Murchison Falls National Park
Night Game Drives in Murchison Falls National Park usually begin after 7 pm following the end of dinner. And, these drives give you bigger chances of spotting nocturnal animals.
Nocturnal animals include Aardvarks, Genets, Civet Cats, and Bush Babies.
You can drive in open savannah grasslands in the hunt for animals. If lucky, you may bump into Lions, Hippos, and Leopards.
Hippos always move out of the water after sunset to go graze and this is the best time to see the big hippos.
Leopards are less shy at the night and come near the vehicle and you may as well see lions hunting for their prey.
Red (UV) light is used for observing the animals in the dark as it doesn’t harm the eyes of the animals.
Tourists going for the night game drives are escorted by armed Uganda Wildlife Rangers with strong spotlight torches. Night drives can go far longing for 2 hours.
Sighting Uganda animals in Murchison park during night game drives can be a little challenging but worth the experience.
What To Carry | Pack When Going For Night Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
There are many several things to carry when going for a night game drives in Murchison Falls National Park.
Many of these items not differ that much from what to carry for the entire game drives.
- Night vision binoculars
- Strong spotlight torches
- A camera with extra charged batteries and memory cards
- Red (UV) light
- Long-sleeved Shirts and Trousers of neutral blending colors
- Insect repellent
- Warm sweeter
- Head sock
Fees- Cost For Night Game Drives in Murchison Falls National Park
|Visitor Category||Fees(Per Person)|
|East African citizen||UGX40,000|
What Vehicles Should be Used For Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls Park?
When going for Uganda safari game drives in Murchison falls park different vehicles are used. However, the most suitable are the 4×4 safari vehicles (Four Wheel Drive).
The most used vehicles are Safari vans, modified land cruisers, and open-sided vehicles.
2WD Vehicles are not suitable for safari game drives in Murchison park since the tracks in the park are marram roads.
Accessibility to these roads during rainy seasons tends to be hard leading to delays yet 4×4 vehicles make it easy and simple to access them.
The suitable safari vehicles have a pop-up roof that is raised to 360 degrees giving clear views of Uganda wildlife. Photography and videography are excellent in the 360-degree mode as you can turn in all directions.
Modified land cruisers have 7 or 5 seats well-spaced with each having a window for clear views. The seats also have individual charging ports, a wide aisle, and a mini fridge for refreshments.
These cruisers provide maximum comfort to tourists with their suspension system making them pass on terrain roads easily.
Uganda Wildlife Authority and some lodges in the Murchison Falls National Park have open-sided mutated safari jeeps. These jeeps give views and closure to the animals providing clear photography from all angles.
They have a rooftop cover and side covers that can be unfolded during unexpected rain, too much wind, and dust.
Other vehicles can be used for safari game drives while on your Uganda tours in Murchison falls park e.g. Buses and coasters for bigger groups.
Those doing self-drives are advised to always have an accompaniment of an armed ranger for guidance and protection.
Best Time Of The Of Year To Go For Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Safari game drives in Murchison Falls National Park take place all year round. However, game drives are more suitable in the dry season when the tracks are dry and easily accessible.
Wildlife viewing is easier as the savannah grasslands are low making it easier sighting animals. The dry months are from June to August and from December to mid-February.
Compared to the wet season, grasslands are tall and some tracks can be un-accessible. This leads to delays in doing game drives.
The wet months of the year are from October to November and from March to May.
Scenic views are best at the beginning of the rainy season when green vegetation is rising again in the park.
However, for bird lovers, migratory birds come to the park from November to April.
What To Carry When Going For Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park?
Generally, there is not much to carry when going for a game drive in Murchison Falls National Park. You stock most of the refreshments (Water and other beverages) in the vehicle.
One can come with snacks like candy and chocolate bars but should not litter the park.
A pair of binoculars for clear viewings at least an 8 x 30 magnification for animals that are far. On request, a pair of binoculars can be provided to one in need.
Photographic and Videography gadgets like cameras and phones should be with you to capture memorable memories that you will share with family and friends.
Remember to carry extra batteries, memory cards, and water and dust proof to keep the gadgets and their accessories safe.
A guidebook might seem unnecessary but if interested in true education about Uganda’s wildlife, then you can carry one. Most wildlife guidebooks give more information about animals and birds.
If you have any medicine to carry, please carry it with you and also talk to your guide about it.
Toilet paper; the word toilet paper might sound funny but if nature calls, you may need it for a bush toilet.
Carry a reasonable small backpack where you will put your medicine and other personal requirements.
What To Wear When Going For Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park?
When on game drives in Murchison falls park, wear comfortably and be free. For early morning game drives, the weather might be a bit cold and breezy.
Always carry a scarf, jacket, and some gloves to keep you warm.
Some days might become hotter, especially in the afternoons, so you need to wear light comfortable safari layers. In most cases, you need to come out of the vehicle to stretch.
Be vigilant to come with a hat and sunglasses for the strong light and comforting shoes like hiking boots, canvas shoes, or sketchers.
An insect repellent should be with you as many flies are in the park especially mosquitoes during night game drives.
Is It Safe To Go On A Safari Game Drive In Murchison Falls National Park?
Yes, it is very safe to go for safari game drives in Murchison Falls National Park. However, one needs to keep in mind that there may be a few risks as you are in the wilderness with Uganda wild animals.
To avoid all the risks, always listen to your guide or ranger and follow their instructions. Rangers and guides are well-trained to incur such risks while on game drives.
Vehicles used in Safari game drives are designed to ensure safety for tourists during the activity.
What Is The Age Limit For Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park?
The age limit for game drives in Murchison Falls National Park is 4 years.
Children below the age of 4 years are not permitted for game drives because they may cry during the activity. The crying creates noise that can chase away the animals to hiding.
If this challenges you, you can always consult from Uganda Wildlife Authority, your travel agent, or the lodge where you are staying.
21 Safety Precautions To Follow During Game Drives in Murchison Falls Park -Expertise Guideline
- Do not drive exceeding 40km/hr when in the park
- You should always remain seated keeping your legs and arms inside the vehicle.
- Always stay silent, do not scream at the animals, and don’t play loud music.
- Do not make unnecessary movements when near wild animals.
- Keep in mind not to wear shining colorful clothes as they may attract animals.
- Your phones should always be in silent mode.
- Do not drink alcoholic drinks during safari game drives.
- When taking pictures of wildlife, your camera should be in the car.
- Always listen to what your guides and rangers tell you.
- When driving in the park, do not go off tracks as this destroys the habitat of animals.
- Do not hoot or horn in park as this disturbs the animal’s peace and freedom.
- When on a self-drive, ensure to have an accompaniment of an armed ranger.
- During night game drives, you shouldn’t use flashlights, rangers are entitled to use spotlights and red (UV) light.
- When on game drives, especially self-game drives, do not go to abandoned tracks. They may be dangerous or inaccessible and you get stuck.
- If it has rained, avoid driving on flooded tracks. Rain may have eroded away the land leaving a deep ditch that you may fall into.
- When animals are sighted, please! Please! Do not try to touch animals. This is really dangerous as animals can harm you or even kill you.
- Do not throw items to animals because you want them to face your way so that you take pictures. This act is prohibited and it is animal harassment and animals can attack you aggressively and injure you.
- Do not call animals as you don’t know what you are wishing for. They can charge at you. This is only done by professional and expert rangers.
- If you have any edibles in the car, always make sure that all windows are closed. Most wild animals smell food from a far distance especially baboons and can become a danger.
- When you have spotted animals, leave a distance of about 8-10 meters away from the animal.
- When you have spotted animals, do not try feeding them as it is very dangerous.
Safari game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are a must not miss activity while on your Uganda wildlife safari.
The drives will provide you with golden opportunities to come close to wildlife of Uganda in its natural habitat. While on your safari, you can see four of the big five animals (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, and Cape Buffaloes).
Game drives create everlasting memories as you are in the untouched wild.
Let us help you to arrange your Murchison falls safari full of safari game drives.
FAQs About Safari Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park
Where Else Are Game Drives Done While On A Uganda Safari?
Safari game drives are enjoyed in all savannah national parks of Uganda. These parks are Queen Elizabeth park, Kidepo National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.
This activity is as well enjoyed in Uganda game reserves like Pian Upe, Matheniko, Bokora and Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.
Why Do Game Drives In Murchison Falls National Park?
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are an ideal way of spotting a diversity of Uganda wildlife in their nature habitats.
You get up close views of wild animals like Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, antelope species, Leopards etc. You as well see different Uganda birds whistling in trees.
What Is A Game Drive? – What Does Game Safari Mean?
A game drive (safari game drive) is an adventure that takes you through the wild to see and observe iconic wildlife in their natural habitat while in your vehicle.
Game drives can be self-drive game drives or guided game drives that are done while on an African safari.
Game drives are led by certified rangers and field guides who are well conversant with wildlife and their behavior. They can track and lead to sightings of animals quickly.
What Is The Difference Between A Safari And A Game Drive?
Do not confuse yourself about the two terms of a safari and a game drive. The two terms are different with individual meanings.
The word “Safari” comes from the Swahili language meaning a “long journey far away from home.” However, the term is used in the travel language referring to seeing animals and doing other tourist activities in Africa.
A game drive is an activity of driving in a park or game reserve in search of wildlife and observing it from your vehicle.
The difference between a safari and a game drive is that a game drive is done while on your safari trip to Africa. A game drive is an activity that can be put in an itinerary of a safari (trip).
Why Do They Call It A Game Drive?
It is called a game drive because the word “game” in the term “game drive” means “wild animals.”
The word game initially comes from hunters who used to call animals game. Whenever they went hunting they could say that they “are looking for game”.
The word “drive” means operating and controlling the speed or direction of a motor car. Or a journey in the car.
When the two words are joined, they make up the word game drive. Therefore, it gives the clear meaning of searching for wild animals (Game) while in a vehicle when driving from one point to another (drive).
What Is The Purpose Of A Game Drive?
The purpose of a game drive is to bring you up close to wild animals or birds in the wild. You get to see animals in their real habitats.
Game drives are exciting as you get to observe the big five within African bushes and you can opt to take photos.
Can You Go For A Game Drive In Rain?
Yes, you can go for a game drive in rain. However, it is not advisable and the drives are not productive as most of the animals will be in hiding.
The most productive time would be after the rain. Animals like Lions are cats that don’t like water, they can be seen walking on car trails. Most times they play and sleep on the trails.