Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park shares its name with the world’s most powerful waterfall which is formed as the Nile is squeezed through a narrow gap in the Albertine Rift Escarpment. Uganda’s largest national park, Murchison Falls has a healthy game population with elephants, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino all found here as well as plenty of plains game. This is also a popular spot with birders, with 460 confirmed species, including the sought-after shoebill.
Murchison Falls National Park in north-west Uganda is the country’s largest national park and best known for being home to the world’s most powerful waterfall where the mighty Nile is forced through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley to create a spectacularly thunderous flow of water. One of the most popular activities in the park and the best way to survey the force of Murchison Falls is to take the Nile launch trip to the base of the Falls. It is also possible to see plenty of wildlife this way including hippo, crocodiles – some of which are likely to be the largest in Africa – giraffe, elephant, buffalo and a variety of plains game including kob and waterbuck. As you would expect the bird watching on the river doesn’t disappoint either. The top spot goes to the shoebill, but there are plenty of other water birds to look out for such as fish eagles, malachite kingfishers, saddle-billed storks and the Goliath heron. Once you’ve seen Murchison Falls from the base you should go to one of the viewpoints at the top, the southern one offering the best view.
The animal population of Murchison Falls was detrimentally affected by the Amin regime when previously established conservation initiatives were abandoned. In quick succession the game population went from one of the most impressive in the whole of East Africa to one of the most decimated. Since the early 1990s stocks have begun to recover and although not at pre-Amin levels, you are unlikely to be disappointed – elephant, buffalo, leopard and giraffe are all here as well as many plains species including the near-endemic Uganda kob – and lion sightings in recent years have proved particularly impressive. To the south of the park is Budongo Forest where you can track chimpanzees, whilst Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is well worth stopping off at on the drive between Kampala and Masindi for the chance to track re-introduced white rhino.