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Guide to Murchison Falls Uganda: 16 Things You Need to Know

Posted in: Things to Do in Uganda, Uganda Travel Planning

As you plan your Uganda trip, Murchison Falls is not to be overlooked. In this post, you'll learn 16 things about visiting Murchison Falls Uganda: including accommodations, how to get there, the best time to visit, cruises, hot air balloon safaris and more.

Murchison Falls Uganda

Learn more about Uganda's National Parks

Guide to Murchison Falls Uganda: 16 Things to Know

If you are planning a trip to Uganda, you no doubt will want to see some of the country’s most inspiring attractions, and at the top of the list is Murchison Falls. No ordinary waterfall, Murchison Falls is one of the most beautiful and powerful cataract waterfall in the world.

Beyond this natural wonder is the surrounding national park, which offers you a wealth of African wildlife and exciting adventures that range from game drives to Nile River cruises and cultural encounters.

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Read on to learn 16 things you must know about Murchison Falls Uganda.

1. What’s So Special About Murchison Falls?

Why should you visit Murchison Falls Uganda? The answer is simply because you will be blown away by the waterfall’s mighty force and stunning beauty. Murchison Falls is the star attraction of Uganda’s largest national park, which is also named after the falls.

Considered the most powerful waterfall in the world, Murchison Falls is created by the great Nile River thrusting through a narrow gap in a violent roar before crashing down a 140-ft (43 meters) drop and flowing outward into Lake Albert. You’ll probably also get to see colorful rainbows and a variety of birds at the falls, so make sure you have your camera ready!

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How powerful are Murchison Falls? The outlet of Lake Victoria sends around 300 cubic meters per second (11,000 ft³/s) of water over the falls, squeezed into a gorge less than ten metres (30 ft) wide. ~ wikipedia.org

2. Where are Murchison Falls Located?

You will find this magnificent waterfall in the Murchison Falls National Park, which is located about 75 miles(46 km) from the town of Masindi in northwestern Uganda. A visit to this national park is much more than the breathtaking waterfall.

The park is also home to an abundance of African wildlife and exciting adventures which will be discussed in more detail further down in this article.

3. How to Get to Murchison Falls

From Kampala, you can take public bus transport to Murchison Falls National Park. This is a 5-hour trip. You can also drive your own car, and you will find that roads such as Kampala-Gulu highway are well-paved.

The closest main town to Murchison is Masindi, which is around 75 km (about 1 1/2-hour drive). Minibus transportation is also available from the town of Hoima (129 km away). For a quicker alternative, you can take a charter flight to the landing site at Pakuba.

Upon entering the Murchison Falls National Park through the Chobe Gate, you will access the launching area at Paraa, where you can take a boat cruise on the Nile River to see the bottom of the magnificent waterfall. If you prefer, you can also drive your own car or opt for a 45-minute hike to the top of the falls.

Murchison Falls location in Uganda

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4. Map of Murchison Falls Uganda

5. Where to Stay in Murchison Falls

Here are the top 5 lodges in Murchison Falls National Park

  1. Paraa Safari Lodge
  2. Chobe Safari Lodge See more about this lodge in the video below.
  3. Pakuba Safari Lodge
  4. Budongo Eco Lodge
  5. Twiga Safari Lodge

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6. A Little History about Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls was named after Roderick Murchison, a Royal Geographical Society president, by Sir Samuel and Florence Baker, who were two of the first Europeans to explore the falls area.

During the 1970s, the name of the falls was unofficially changed to Kabalega Falls, after the king of Bunyoro, under the Idi Amin regime. Once that government collapsed, the name of the falls reverted back to Murchison, but you may still sometimes hear it called Kabalega Falls.

7. Murchison Falls Claims to Fame

In 1951, Murchison Falls served as the background setting of the John Huston movie, African Queen, which starred Humphrey Bogart.

Murchison Falls has been visited by many notable people such as Winston Churchill and members of the British Royal family.

The famous author, Ernest Hemingway was flying into Murchison Falls National Park for a visit in 1954 when his plane crashed. Hemingway survived and was treated at a local hospital.

8. Best Time to Visit Murchison Falls

The best time to visit Murchison Falls depends on what you plan to see and do. The national park can be visited throughout the year, but some months may be better than others.

  • Overall Best time: Generally speaking, the best time to visit Murchison Falls is between December and February as this is the dry season when it is much easier to spot wildlife. Just keep in mind that the temperatures can be unbearably hot during this time.
  • Low Season: During the months of April to May and October to November, the Murchison Falls area experiences heavy rains which can occasionally make roads inaccessible. On a brighter note, the wet season is one of the best times to see migratory birds, and you may find reduced travel expenses during the low season.
  • High Season: June through September is the high season when most tourists are visiting the national park. This is when you will be more likely to enjoy relief from both heavy rains and high temperatures.

Best time to visit Murchison Falls

9. Oh! The Animals You Can See!

When you come to visit Murchison Falls Uganda, you will find yourself right smack in the middle of a motley of amazing wildlife that you may never see anywhere else in the world.

The surrounding national park consists of wetlands, tropical forests, woodlands and savannah grasslands, which all provide habitats for Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) as well as giraffes, chimpanzees, antelopes, bushbucks, warthogs, hyenas, reedbucks, hartebeest, and more than 450 bird species.

Along the Nile River, you may spot hippos, crocodiles, and various water birds.

Learn more about the birds of Uganda.

Saddle-billed stork in flight

10. Game Drives

One of the most popular activities in Murchison National Park is going on a game drive to see a variety of animals that include elephants, giraffes, velvet monkeys, jackals, lions, baboons and more.

While you can take a game drive any time of the year, the best time is during the dry season. Game drives usually take place early in the morning and sometimes in the evening. Being accompanied by skilled guides will enhance your game drive experience because they know exactly where and how to track the animals.

11. Nature Walks

You will find designated trails throughout the national park where you can enjoy nature walks, from along the top of the falls and through the forest and along the delta, where you can meander among beautiful trees, plants, flowers and butterflies.

You might catch a glimpse of red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and a diversity of birds like chocolate backed kingfishers, hornbills, and maybe even the rare shoebill stork.

Watch on YouTube

12. Hot Air Balloon Safari

One of the most unique ways you can explore Murchison Falls Uganda is by taking a hot air balloon safari. You can opt for a sunrise or sunset launch that takes you high above the treetops to glimpse wildlife teeming below. This is probably one of the most memorable activities you can do here.

13. Boat Cruises

Another exciting way you can enjoy a Murchison Falls Uganda safari is by taking a boat cruise. From the launching area at Paraa, where the Nile River flows into Lake Albert, the boat will bring you to the bottom of the Murchison Falls and the Devil’s Cauldron.

Along the way, you can admire beautiful flora and spot hippos, Cape buffalos, crocodiles, waterbucks, and a variety of water birds such as cormorants, bee-eaters and fish eagles.

14. Birdwatching

If you love birds, you will be in paradise at Murchison Falls Uganda. While there are hundreds of species here, some of the most common include the crested crane, blue-naped mousebird, spotted mourning thrush, bluff-bellied warbler, and white-rumped seedeater.

A nature walk at night might present you with the opportunity to see nocturnal birds such as standard-winged nightjars and Verreaux’s eagle-owls.

Animals to see at Murchison Falls Uganda

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15. Cultural Encounters

Interacting with different cultures often presents learning experiences and wonderful memories. While in Murchison Falls Uganda, you have the opportunity to meet several different ethnic groups that live in different sections of the national park.

Some of these groups include Acholi, Banyoro, Alur, and Boomu. Not only can you learn about the different beliefs and customs of these ethnic groups, but you can take cooking and dancing lessons with them and buy their handicrafts that help support their livelihood and pay for their children’s schooling.

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16. See Wild Rhinos

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is en route to Murchison Falls Uganda in Nakasongola. You will be happy to stop here and see a variety of birds and animals including the country’s only population of wild rhinos.

White rhino Uganda facts

 


You probably didn’t know that so much adventure could be involved in one place like Murchison Falls, did you?

While Uganda is packed with many incredible places, you could plan an entire trip around Murchison Falls and not run out of exciting things to see and do. So, when planning your Uganda itinerary, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to take advantage of all the adventures awaiting you at Murchison Falls.

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is co-editor of Uganda365 - and is working to make it the best source of information about Uganda travel. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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