Murchison Falls, at a glance

The park, known by locals as Kabalega National Park, is based in northwest Uganda, 285 kilometres from Kampala.

Situated at the end of the Albertine Rift Valley, and split by the Victoria Nile, the park contains woodland, riverine forest, and savannah.

Murchison Falls National Park is the oldest and largest safari park in Uganda. First founded as a wildlife reserve in 1926, people travel from all over the world to witness 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds.

The park is a fantastic place to start your southwestern safari circuit, before moving on to Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi, and Lake Mburo National Park. 

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

What will I see at the park?

Murchison National Park is now considered the largest conservation area in Uganda.

The diverse wildlife is an example of their success in protecting species and habitats from poaching since it happened heavily in the 1980s.

The population has recovered well, and now you’re able to spot a large variety of wildlife through game drives and boat cruises, making the park an epic safari location. 

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Home to four out of the five

The park is home to four out of the “Big Five” – elephants, buffalo, lions, and leopards, though leopards are rarely spotted. Rhinos lived at the park when it was first opened, however, the last one was killed by poachers in 1983.

There are huge herds of both elephants and buffalo, and though there’s a healthy pride of lions, there’s no guarantee you’ll spot them.

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

What else congregates by the water?

The Nile is a magnet for wildlife. Down by the water you may find hippos, hartebeests, waterbucks, warthogs, oribis, Uganda kobs, and grey duikers.

Crocodiles are an easy spot, as the park is home to the largest population in Uganda.

Hyenas live at the park, but are only occasionally spotted.

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Chimpanzees & Monkeys

Beyond the game viewing, the park is renowned for chimpanzee trekking.

Over 600 can be found in Kaniyo Pabidi and Bundongo forests. As well as chimpanzees, Red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and black-and-white colobus are also found in the forests.

If you’re lucky, you may see Patas monkeys, which are endemic to Murchison. 

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Birdwatching

If you’re a keen bird watcher, it’s worth bringing a notepad with you to remember the array of birds found at the park. 451 species of birds live at Murchison Falls National Park. Birds can be spotted on a game drive, nature walk, or a boat cruise.

Taking a boat cruise up the Nile is a fantastic opportunity to see water-associated birds. The sightings may include the shoebill stork, goliath heron, grey crowned crane, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black-headed lapwing, and Senegal thick-knee.

You will be able to see birds throughout the year, however, it’s best to visit the park from January-March, which is a low period for tourists, but a brilliant time to spot many birds. 

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Giraffes

The park is known for the critically endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, a subspecies of the northern giraffe.

Murchison Falls National Park has been successful when it comes to conservation. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation has stated that in the last two decades, the Rothschild’s giraffe has increased in Uganda.

Approximately 1,450 can be found north and 45 south of the Nile. The park is home to around 50% of the population.

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

When should I visit?

Murchison Falls National Park is equatorial, so has a tropical climate and is hot throughout the year. However, during the wet season there can be light showers. The dry season runs from December-February and the wet season from March-November.

While the park is worth visiting all year round, you’re most likely to spot wildlife from June-September, and from January-March. They tend to congregate around the Nile and other water resources during that period. 

Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Ready to explore Murchison?