Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall creating the dramatic Murchison Falls– the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids. The mighty cascade drains the last of the river’s energy transforming it into a broad, placid stream that flows quietly across the rift valley floor into Lake Albert.
This stretch of the river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. Regular animals that visit the riverbanks include elephants, giraffes and buffaloes; while hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds are permanent residents.
Special features Of Murchison Falls National Park include;
Because this park is bisected by the Nile River, there are waterfalls that give spectacular views. At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks of only 7 metres wide and tumbles 43 metres before flowing westward into Lake Albert by creating a big thunderous roar of the waters. They have a permanent rainbow over the battlefield due to the waters that violently compress through a narrow gorge.
The park is home to 76 species of animals including four of the “Big Five” with huge herds of buffaloes and elephants, well-camouflaged leopards and a healthy population of lions. The park is also known for its giraffes where they can be viewed in Uganda apart from Kidepo Valley National Park. Other species viewed regularly along the game tracks include Jackson’s hartebeest, Bushbucks, Uganda kob, Waterbucks and Warthogs. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other visiting wildlife are found along the river.
Olive baboons are common along the roadsides. Blue and red-tailed monkeys and black-and-white colobus can be found in the forested sectors. The savanna-dwelling patas monkey is only found here and in Kidepo Valley National Park. Around 800 chimpanzees live in the Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests.
The varied habitats of Uganda’s largest park make it home to a variety of birds with 451 species recorded. The list includes the Shoebill Stork, the Goliath Heron – the largest heron in the world and pairs of elegant Grey Crowned Cranes – Uganda’s national bird.
Also seen along the banks of the Nile are the Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Piapiac, Silverbird, Weaver Birds, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and African Quail-Finch among others.