Murchison Falls National Park

Travel Guide Africa Uganda Murchison Falls National Park

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Introduction

Murchison Falls National Park is known for its waterfalls, where the Nile drops down for over 40 metres, making it one of the most powerful waterfalls in Africa. A boat ride will take you past hippos and crocodiles and other wildlife in the park, including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard and many species of antelope and birds. The park is only accessible by a tour, or by private vehicle, as the actual falls are far from the gates, and walking alone is not permitted. The hike up to the top of the falls is a short walk, but steep uphill, but does afford fantastic views over the falls.

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Geography

The park straddles the Ugandan districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi. The driving distance from Masindi, the nearest large town, to the Kibanda area of the national park is about 72 kilometres. This area is about 283 kilometres, by road, north-west of Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda. The coordinates of the park near the Kibanda area are 02°11'15.0"N, 31°46'53.0"E.

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Sights and Activities

This park offers plenty of different ways to enjoy primates, wildlife and a variety of birds. Chimp trekking and birding takes place in the southern reaches, in Budongo Forest, but the core park activities are centered around the river Nile, and the dramatic Murchison Falls themselves. Launch cruises can be taken to the base of the Falls, offering a relaxed way to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife which comes to the water's edge, including elephant, buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, Nile crocodile and hundreds of hippopotamuses. The Falls are only modest in their height (approximately a 43m drop) but what they lack in height they make up for in power. The entire Nile river explodes through a 7 metres wide crevice. It is said that up to 300 cubic metres of water per second rush through this narrow rocky gorge.

The bird life is also excellent in this area, but to spot the famous Shoebill, it is best to take a Delta cruise in the opposite direction, to where the waters of the Victoria Nile and Albert Nile meet and mingle at the northern end of Lake Albert. The delta area is a network of watery channels with papyrus islands, where plenty of aquatic birds can be spotted, and quite often, the pre-historic looking Shoebill is found fishing for frogs and lungfish. The park also offers game drives around the Buligi circuit in the delta area, or further east and north towards Karuma Falls or Pakwach and Wangkwar gates. The game is not as plentiful as that found in the large national reserves of Kenya and Tanzania, but the wildlife encounters can be more intimate, as Uganda is 'off the beaten path'. Frequently spotted game includes Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Buffalo, as well as the endangered Rothschild's Giraffe, Jackson's Hartebeest, Defassa Waterbuck, Uganda Kob and the dainty Oribi.

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Opening Hours

The park is open year-round.

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Cost

For non-residents, a one day permit costs US$30, for East African residents, US$10.

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Getting There and Around

Basically you either must bring your own car or rent one to enter Murchison. There is no public transportation through the park. With some luck you could get a free ride with the rangers, or you could arrange with a safari guide to drive you out to the park from Masindi.

In short, access to the park is best with an organised safari tour or a self-drive vehicle. Tracks are basic, so vehicles should engage 4wd and lock hubs, and drivers should keep below the park limit of 40km/h. For travellers relying on public transport, it's best to join a budget group tour from Kampala or travel by bus to Masindi and then try and arrange a 'special hire' (private taxi) to take you into the park. The latter will cost up to $100 one way, so a group tour inclusive of all fees etc, can often be the more affordable option if you are travelling by yourself.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

The Nile Safari Camp offers luxury tents and wooden cabins overlooking the Nile River. Quaint and rustic, but with good service.

Paraa Lodge located on the "animal-side" of the Nile River is a colonial style hotel with a very good buffet.

Boomu Women's Group offers simple and cheap bandas as well as camping.

River Camp located outside of the Park. But the operators regularly take the clients to Murchison as part of a package. The package includes the use of Swamp Airboats. Pick-up from Arua airport available.

Red Chilli Rest Camp is located on the southern bank on the Nile River with good food at breakfast but lunch and dinner don't have a lot of choice. The accommodation is 'banda style' with tents also available.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 9:08 on Jul 20, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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