Expert Reviews – Murchison Falls NP

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Safari along the wild Nile River
Overall rating

Uganda’s largest national park features on most safari itineraries because of its mix of beauty and wildlife. Four of the Big Five are here (only rhinos are absent, but they can be seen at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on the drive from Kampala) and lions and leopards sightings are pretty common. Cheetahs are rare, and thus rarely seen, but they’re here too, as are most of the other typical large safari animals and an impressive 450 species of bird. You can even visit habituated wild chimps in the adjacent Budongo Forest Reserve. Besides wildlife drives north of the river (There isn’t much wildlife to the south.) there are two things every visitor should do at the park. First is take a boat trip up the Nile River. You’ll travel past plentiful hippos, crocodiles, and buffaloes stopping near the base of the park’s awesome namesake waterfall. But you can only really appreciate the power of the falls from the top, and going there is the other must-do. The mighty river explodes through a tiny gap in the rock and drops 45 meters down a narrow gorge. It’s far from one of the world’s biggest waterfalls, but it’s definitely one of the most impressive.

A good minibreak option from Kampala
Overall rating

Murchison Falls National Park is a nice destination for a road trip from Kampala – I self-drove up with a group of friends in a rattly old hired Land Rover. There are all sorts of mini-safari packages available from the various tour companies and hotels in Kampala too. The park is worth two days or thereabouts – enough for a couple of game drives and a boat trip to the extremely spectacular Murchison Falls themselves.

I’d also recommend a trip to the top of the Falls, with a very impressive and vertigo-inducing view. Hippos are the signature species here – my guide told me that Idi Amin and his friend Colonel Gadafi used to use them for target practice with their AK47s. Thankfully the population has now recovered and I was thrilled to peep out at the portly waterhorses grazing just centimeters from my tent flap each night.

A thunderous waterfall on the mighty River Nile
Overall rating

To see the Nile squeeze through an impossibly narrow seven-metre gap, a requisite of this park is to take the three-hour boat trip. At first the sludgy brown river was placid and we were steered from shore to shore through hippo pods and past sandbanks with some pretty contented-looking crocodiles (thanks to an ever-resent menu of Nile Perch). But the river soon gathered momentum and we were faced with the sight of a ferocious wall of white water dropping some 40 metres into the deservedly named Boiling Pot. I didn’t find game viewing in the rest of the park especially rewarding, but nevertheless, saw plenty of Uganda kob, as well as hartebeest, giraffe and buffalo in the park’s palm-dotted hills, and I imagine wildlife is naturally drawn to the river in the dry season. It’s the fury of the Nile that is the park’s greatest appeal.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.8/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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