BACKGROUND OF MURCHISON NATIONAL PARK, BEST TIME TO VISIT, HOW TO GET THERE
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murchison Falls National Park which is positioned where the massive Bunyoro escarpment amalgamate into the enormous plains of Acholi land is the largest Park in Uganda covering an area of about 3,893 Square Kilometers. It occupies the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley straddling Ugandan districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi. The Park got its name ‘Murchison’ Falls from Sir Samuel White Baker-A British explorer, big game hunter and a naturalist, who also served as the Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile Basin. Baker named them after Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Royal Geographical Society. The falls lend their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park.
For lovers of East Africa Safaris, Murchison Falls National Park is a safari hub providing one of the best game encounter in Uganda and East Africa at large. The Park is crossed by Victoria Nile that bisects it into two; the southern and the northern sector. The glories of this famous Park is seen where the Nile River finds its way out through a narrow 7-m gorge to fall a gap of about 150 ft down churning out a deafening roar of white water to form one of the most powerful falls in the world.
Murchison Falls National Park climate is generally hot because of being at a close proximity to the equator. The temperatures go to about 25-32°C and are quite uniform throughout the year. The area around Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) has two rainy seasons. These seasons are not as pronounced as they are at more equatorial regions in Uganda.
The Park’s vegetation is characterized by savannah grasslands, riverine forest, savannah woodland, tropical forests and wetlands as well as open water covering approximately 39,000 ha at an altitude of more than 600m
The northern part of the Park is a hot safari spot and it’s blessed with diversity of wildlife as well as clear viewing opportunity that cannot be matched with any Park in Uganda.
The Park is gifted with diversity of fauna and flora with over 145 different tree species some of which are not found elsewhere in Uganda, over 451 bird species and about 109 different mammal species like jackals, giraffes, waterbucks, Uganda Kobs, warthogs, Nile crocodiles, hippos, hartebeests, and of course not forgetting the 4 of the Big 5..Lions, Leopards, Buffaloes, Elephants.
Among the common word species in Murchison Falls National Park are; Shoebill stork seen easily only in this Park, Giant Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Black Headed Lapwing, Black bellied Bustard, secretary bird, Common Bulbul, Egrets, Sterlings, Ox-peckers, dwarf kingfisher, Goliath heron, African Fish Eagle, Speckle fronted weaver, Eastern –grey plantain eater, African Quail finch, weaver birds, Piapiac, Pied king fisher, white-Browed sparrow weaver, Malachite kingfisher, Sandpiper among others.
Within the Park in the southern sector, the sits Budongo forest which is a pleasant habitat of the Chimps and other primate species alongside other tropical rainforest species.
WHEN TO VISIT MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Determining when to go to the Murchison Falls National Park is something that should be precisely considered for great safari experience. But for general wildlife encounters, there is no genuine ‘best time’ to visit. This Park has great deal of plentiful untamed wildlife, impressive scenery and cool atmosphere.
Murchison Falls National Park is open year round for great African safari. Its open Northern section implies there is something to offer in terms of wildlife, regardless of what season you visit the Park
Many visitors travel to Murchison Falls for great wildlife encounter and the best time to enjoy this is during the dry season which
Dry Season which is also the High/Pick Season
This season sweeps between December-February and June-September and is the most ideal for game viewing because of the scarcity of water which drives Park animals to some specific water points. In fact even hard-to-see animals can be spotted during this season.
This season is also the best in such a way that the game track are clear, not muddy and passable; this makes safari vehicles to reach the visitors to any corner of the Park.
Visiting the Park during the dry season will also enable you to have great encounter with Park animals as the vegetation don’t grow much during this season. For best photo shooting, dry season is the best-it offers clear open area where animals, and other attractions can be shot perfectly.
Rainy Season which is also the Low Season
This season is a wet season in Murchison Falls. It covers the months of March-May and October-November.
Being a Wet/Rainy season, it doesn’t mean rain falls every day or the whole day and safari activities are impossible. Game drives are still possible though limited by some muddy, slippery and impassable tracks. But with our 4X4 safari vehicles and our experienced driver guides, you will be taken exactly to most favorable points.
Visiting Murchison Falls this season comes with its advantages too; For those who love impressive and breath taking views, these season is when the Park is magnificent-the vegetation all green and to birders, this season if the perfect to do birding because of the plenty species that come with the rain. The weather all will favor the birders to go on birding for hours for hours.
Despite being the wet season where animals continuously active looking for food and water in specific places, you can still be able to encounter most of the Park resident during this season.
Bad months to visit the Park
These months of December and February are filled with excessive heat and much dust though Activities in the Park can still be carried-up.
In these months, accommodation rates are generally good because of the limited number of visitors
HOW TO GET TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Murhison Falls National Park can be accessed by road with a wonderful scenic journey from Kampala, the capital city through Luwero triangle and having a stopover at Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary before finally getting into the Park. The journey takes about 4-5hrs from Kampala.
SOUTHERN ENTRANCE GATES
Kampala-Masindi-Kaniyo Pabidi forest-Murchison Falls National Park (305Km)
Many people prefer the 305km road from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park. The journey begins from Kampala then connects to the Northern route passing via Luwero Triangle with a stopover at Zziwa Sanctuary before connecting to Masindi and finally to the Park through Kichumbanyobo Gate.
Kampala-Masindi-Budongo Forest-Murchison Falls National Park
Another option is from Kampala through Luwero triangle then connecting to Masindi and continue through Budongo forest and finally reaching the Park via Bungungu Gate. Though long journey, it’s more scenic viewing the rift valley escarpment with as well as Lake Albert together with the mountains of Congo.
NORTHERN ENTRANCE GATES
Kampala-Karuma-Pakwach to Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates (260Km)
This route is most convenient to those coming/leaving the Park from/to Gulu, Kidepo National Park and other Northern attractions. The route links to four Park gates of Chobe, Wankwar, Mubako and Tangi gates north of the Nile. It takes Kampala-Karuma-Pakwach Road then links to the Park gates.
Other option of getting into the Park is by Air. Which involves booking a flight from either Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airfield and flying in to either Pakuba, Bugungu or Chobe Airfields.
Aero link is the Air line that arranges chartered flight to this destination.