A safari in the Murchison Falls National park in Uganda: all you kneed to know!

Murchison Falls National in Uganda is a beautiful national park full of wildlife and amazing nature! In this blog, I share our experiences doing a safari in Murchison Falls National Park and tell you everything you need to know about a game-drive in Murchison Falls National Park! Including a possible itinerary and information on how to visit this park!

Our experience with the Murchison Falls National park

I have seen many beautiful nature parks in my life, but the experience with the Murchison Falls National park is definitely one to remember. We have two days to discover this large national park that lies in Uganda cornering Lake Albert and the Nile. And where most people sleep just outside the park, we embark on an adventure: camping in the park, with only a thin tent canvas that separates us from nature and animals such as lions, elephants and hippos!Murchison Falls Uganda

Day 1: North of Murchison Falls National Park

We start our time in the north of the park. Together with two Canadian girls, we are in a rented mini jeep. And it is full, very full! Four backpacks, camping gear for 4 people, a gas burner and food for three days. We are happy that the car is actually closing and although it may not be very comfortable, it sure is cosy! Murchison Falls National Park is known for its tropical appearance, full of palm trees and extensive green grassy meadows. The other wildlife parks that we have seen in Uganda and Kenya so far mostly consist of savannah or jungle. It is a beautiful but surreal image to see such a big difference: tall palm trees, between which giraffes and buffaloes walk. Or the green riverbed where we discover elephants and hippos.Murchison Falls Ugandagame-drive self Murchison Falls National Park

Fight with a baboon

We drive around for hours because the park is large. We see all kinds of beautiful animals, from elephants to hyenas, giraffes, antelopes and much more. The roads are good, and we sometimes encounter other jeeps, but compared to Masai Mara in Kenya, for example, this park is very quiet. During lunch, which we want to eat near the ranger’s quarters, I almost come to blows with a baboon. Baboons (monkeys) are present in large numbers in this park. The animals are not shy at all and when a large male baboon sees that I have a mango, he tries to take it away.

Naive as I am, I don’t intend to hand over my mango and start making intimidating noises at him, yes, that seemed like a good idea at the moment. But this turns out not to be very smart, the animal (much stronger than me) gets angry and tries to attack me. Fortunately, Ries scares him and the rangers then ensure that he does not come back to us. Still shaking, I get into the car, where after a minute I start to laugh/cry hysterically. All to release the tension!Murchison Falls Uganda Girfaffe

Camping in Murchison Falls National Park!

But that’s not the only adventure we are part of. Together with the Canadian girls Erin and Carlann, we have decided to go camping in the park. This is possible at special camping spots. You should not imagine too much of this, a camping spot simply means that there is a toilet cubicle and it is allowed to sleep here. So: no fence or other separation between the campsite and the animals that live here. An exciting idea when you know that there are lions, hippos, elephants and hyenas in the area. We, therefore, decide to embark on this adventure under the guidance of a ranger. We pick up our ranger and drive (yes, now the five of us in that completely full car, the poor man was on my lap) to the campsite.Murchison Falls Uganda

Lions and hippos around the campsite

While the ranger makes fire to keep wild animals at bay, we pitch our tents at dusk and make dinner. A lentil curry ensures that we are well fed (and unfortunately as well that I have to go to the toilet all night, which I absolutely don’t dare). While we chat around the campfire, I notice how tired I am. A whole day of safari and spotting animals makes for a tired Charlotte. Not much later we are in bed.

Sticky from the hot day, but also from the tension because we hear all kinds of unfamiliar noises, we try to sleep. The fire where the ranger keeps watch crackles and sometimes I hear a hippo by the nearby river. Would there be lions around too? Despite the excitement, I fall asleep knowing that the ranger does this on a daily basis, and well… he is still alive.Murchison Falls Uganda

Day 2 in Murchison Falls National Park: the falls!

After a restless night in which I dream about all kinds of animals, the alarm clock wakes me up. It is still dark outside and while the campfire continues to glow, we quickly pack our things. Why do we leave so early? We hope to spot lions nearby the river around sunrise. So, we quickly bring the ranger back to his ranger post and then drive to the river at dusk. We see zebras, giraffes, birds and other animals drinking water, but lions are nowhere to be seen. They have decided to sleep in. And so we also drive on.Murchison Falls Uganda

We have to be at the ferry before 10 am to catch it on time to the southern half of Murchison Falls National Park. Barely making it in time, together with 6 other cars, we reach the bank of the river. We don’t have much time left, because we bought a 24-hour pass and entered the park at 2:00 pm, we have to be out again at 2:00 pm today. And before that time, we want to see another highlight of this park: the Murchison Falls!

A little after noon we arrive at Top of the Falls, a lookout point just above Murchison Falls. It has been worth the race, with a deafening noise several river branches plunging down here with a force of nature that impresses us! We take some pictures, enjoy the mist of water droplets hanging here and then drive to the exit. What a beautiful park Murchison Falls National Park is!Murchison Falls Uganda

All you need to know about a safari in the Murchison Falls National park!

After reading our experiences, below you will find practical information regarding a visit or safari in Murchison Falls National Park! We found Murchison Falls to be one of the hardest national parks to understand beforehand. Especially as a budget traveller or backpacker, it is difficult to make a good planning and map out an itinerary. Hopefully, the information below will help you and it will be a lot easier to plan a safari in this beautiful nature park.Murchison Falls Uganda

Where is Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda?

The Murchison Falls National Park is located in western Uganda, on the border with the DRC. See below a map of Murchison Falls in Uganda. The park covers an area of ​​3,893 square kilometres. As a tourist, you are not allowed to go everywhere (and that is a good thing, so there is still plenty of real wildlife). You are obliged to stay on the paths and are therefore not allowed to drive off-road. Because a large part of the park (especially in the south and east) is not connected by paved roads, you cannot visit these places. You can see the most in the northern part, so plan enough time for this part

What shocked me very much is that they are currently building a large hydroelectric power station (dam), near the falls. This project, which is mostly funded by Chinese investors, appears to be causing widespread disruption to waterfalls, nature and wildlife. A sad thought.Map of Uganda National Parks and top attractions itinerary

Map of Murchison Falls National Park Uganda

Paraa is the area near the Nile. From here the ferry leaves for the south or north of the park. Paraa is considered the heart of Murchison Falls National Park. Furthermore, the park is easily divided into a northern and southern area, separated by the Nile that runs through the park. The most interesting part is in the northwest.Map murchison falls national park Uganda.001Murchison Falls Uganda

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

As the crow flies, Murchison Falls National Park is not that far from Kampala at all. However, it takes a lot of time to reach the park. From Kampala to the southern entrance (Kichumbayobo Gate) it takes more than 4-5 hours by car. The North Entrance (Tangi Gate) is approximately 5-6 hours from Kampala.

Getting to Murchison Falls by public transport is very difficult. We, therefore, recommend that you travel here by rental car. If this rental car is a four-wheel drive, you can also directly take a self-drive safari through the park.

It is also possible to travel to Murchison Falls by plane. There are several small runways in the park. This is an expensive joke because you have to charter a plane to get here.Murchison Falls Uganda

What entrance do you take in Murchison Falls National Park?

If you are travelling north, it may be useful to first spend a night in the area east of Pakwach (scroll down for hotel suggestions) and then enter the park via the Tangi Gate. Because in our opinion most of the highlights are in the north (so north of the Nile), we advise you to take the most time for this.

There are other entrances in the north such as Chobe Gate (easternmost entrance), Wankwar gate and Mubako gate. Because these gates are further away from the highlights of Murchison Falls and there is hardly any accommodation in the area, we have not used these gates.

If you travel south, through the city of Masindi, the most logical entrance is the Kichumbayobo Gate. This is also the main entrance. From this gate, it is another 85 km to the central Paraa area. Another entrance is Bugungu gate, all the way to the west. Note: This gate is more difficult to reach due to the long road (135 km from Masindi), but it seems to be a very nice route.Murchison Falls Uganda

Self-drive safari or a guided safari in Murchison Falls National Park?

Are you adventurous and do you have a car at your disposal? Then we recommend that you do a self-drive safari through Murchison Falls National Park. It is a bit of a puzzle to find a good itinerary, but once in the park, the roads are good and easy to follow.

As a middle ground, you can also hire a UWA ranger for a Game Drive. You pay $20 for this. You then drive yourself, the ranger helps you spot animals and find the way.

Do you have a little more budget, less time or do you want to enjoy nature to the fullest and not be busy with a route or by car, consider an organized safari. There are several tour operators offering safaris. For a 2-day organized safari through Murchison Falls, you should expect to pay approximately €555 per person. Click here for a half-day safari from Masindi, click here for a 2-day safari and here for a 3-day safari.

Murchison Falls Uganda

A possible safari itinerary through Murchison Falls National Park!

To see as much of the park as possible (and not drive up and down the park unnecessarily and lose time), we recommend that you drive from north to south. See a game-drive itinerary below:

Pakwach East – Tangi Gate – Delta (Albert Nile track, Queen’s Track, Victoria Nile Track) – Paraa – boat trip on the Nile – ferry crossing – Murchison Falls – Kichumbayobo Gate – towards Kampala / Masindi

Tip: In addition to the information in this blog, we recommend that you use the Bradt travel guide to map out your itinerary. Downloading the Maps.me app is smart to find your way around the park. Many of the smaller routes are also shown here.Murchison Falls self-drive Safari

Ferry in the Murchison Falls National Park

The ferry in Murchison Falls is required to go from the north to the south region of the park. Keep in mind that the ferry can get full and it does not depart 24/7. Ferries run regularly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The ferry actually looks like a big platform so don’t expect anything like a boat!Murchison Falls self-drive SafariMurchison Falls Uganda Elephant

Read all about the ultimate Uganda itinerary here!

Highlights Murchison Falls National Park

Some of the highlights you don’t want to miss in Murchison Falls are listed below with a brief description

Delta area (Buligi – Para: north)

As soon as you drive south from Tangi Gate, at some point you can drive in the direction of Lake Albert. Here you arrive in the Delta area, an area that borders Lake Albert on the one hand, and the Nile River on the other. This wetland area is the place where most of the animals live. Around sunset, the elephants, giraffes and zebras drink water from the river, the hippos wake up and the lions hunt all that tasty meat.

In this beautiful green area, there are various routes to explore the area. We drove them all down: the Albert Nile track that borders Lake Albert. The Queens track, from the river inland. And finally, the Victoria Nile track, which runs partly along the river and eventually branches off towards Paraa. Take the time to explore this area, where you will find most of the animals.Murchison Falls Uganda warthog

Wild camping in the park

Do you want to camp in the middle of the park, just like us? Then bring camping gear and visit the UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) office in Paraa. Together with a ranger, you will leave for one of the three wild camping spots in the north of the park where you can set up camp. The ranger keeps watch all night and keeps a fire on so that you sleep safely in your tent. To us, this was a great experience! You rent a ranger for $20, camping in the park costs $10 per person.Murchison Falls Uganda

Boat trip across the Nile to Murchison Falls

Several boat trips up the River Nile depart from Paraa, the centre of this national park. This will get you close to Murchison Falls and spot beautiful animals and birds that live around the river. It is also possible to take a boat trip to Lake Albert and sail through the delta. A Nile cruise from UWA costs approximately $30 per person and lasts 2 hours.Murchison Falls Uganda

View the Murchison Falls from above

The waterfall that this park is named off: the Murchison Falls. Thousands of gallons of water pour fiercely down daily from Murchison Falls. This beautiful natural spectacle can be seen from Top of the Falls. The 30-minute hike to the Top of the Falls can only be reached with a UWA guide ($15 per person).Murchison Falls Uganda

Balloon ride over this natural park

It is also possible to view this beautiful park from a greater height by means of a hot air balloon ride. Click here for more information.

Spotting chimpanzees

In other parts of the park (e.g. Kaniyo Pabidi Forest) you will find chimpanzees. You cannot go here on your own and you will go into the forest with a guide. Inquire about this option at one of the hotels.

Click here to read all about a gorilla trekking in Uganda in Bwindi National Park!

How many days do you need for Murchison Falls National Park?

In 2 to 3 days you have the time to really discover this park! Note: you buy an entrance ticket that is valid for 24 hours. So if, like us, you want to discover parts of the park at different times, we recommend that you enter the park around 2 p.m. and discover the north/south first. Then spend the night in the park and finally take the early ferry across the Nile the next morning so that you can also see the other side of the park.

Is your budget sufficient? Then an extra day in the Murchison Falls National Park (so two nights and two 24-hour passes) can be nice. This way you can see more and maintain a slower pace. You, therefore, have more time to take a boat cruise on the Nile, for example.

Note: Murchison Falls National Park is immense. Even in 3 days, you do not have the time to see the whole park. In fact, you don’t have access to many parts of the park.Murchison Falls Uganda

Entrance and prices of Murchison Falls National park

Below an overview of prices for admission and activities. Some amounts are in dollars, others in UGX. These are the prices for tourists from outside East Africa.

  • Entrance: $40 p.p. (valid 24 hours)
  • Car entrance: 30,000 UGX (valid 24 hours)
  • Ferry: car crossing is 40,000, on top of that is UGX 5000 per person
  • Boat cruise: $30 p.p.
  • Daytime game drive by car: $20
  • Night game drive per person: $40
  • Camping Ranger: $20
  • Camping in the park: $10

Click here for more rates of activities in Murchison Falls National Park.Murchison Falls Uganda

How expensive is Uganda? In this Uganda budget blog, you can read all about the prices and costs of travelling through Uganda!

Hotels in the Murchison Falls National Park

Would you like to spend the night inside the Murchison Falls National Park? Then look at one of the hotels below. These are all located near Paraa, just south or north of the Nile.

Red Chili Hideaway Red Chili hideaway

This nice hostel, just south of the Nile, is the perfect place for a budget overnight stay. You can camp here from $8 per person and a double room costs $35. And all this with access to the beautiful swimming pool! From here there is also the option to do various safaris from here and there is a restaurant.

Read more!

Murchison River Lodge €€€Murchison River Lodge

These beautiful lodges are located in the middle of the park (south of the Nile). There is wifi and a swimming pool with a beautiful view! The perfect luxury base for a multi-day stay in the park. You stay here for $300 (2 pers + 3 meals) in a luxury lodge. You can camp for $50 per night per person (including 3 meals).

Read more!

Paraa safari lodge €€€€Paraa lodge

This super luxurious hotel not only has beautiful rooms but also a great swimming pool. This is pure luxury in the middle of wild nature. The hotel is located north of the Nile, in the Paraa area. Several activities are offered such as game drive. You can sleep here in a double room from $385 including breakfast.

Read more!

What to stay in outside the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park?

Looking for a hotel just outside the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park? Consider these options north or south of the park.

Tangi gate (north of Murchison Falls National Park) 

Mama Washindi €mama washindi hotel

This low-budget hotel is beautifully situated in nature and has several nice rooms and furnished tents. Everything is clean but basic. You are here at 8 kilometres from the Tangi gate. You stay here for as little as €24 euros in a double room with breakfast!

Read more!

Fort Murchison €€€Fort Murchison

This luxurious hotel with swimming pool has cosy rooms and a nice restaurant. You are here in the middle of nature and only 5 km from the Tangi gate of the Murchison Falls National Park. For a double room, you pay $150, a safari tent from $35.

Read more!

Masindi (south of Murchison Falls)

 Murchison Backpackers € murchison backpackers

We slept in this nice hostel ourselves when we were on our way to Murchison Falls National Park. You can camp or sleep in one of the rooms. You stay here from €20 a night.

Read more!

New Court View hotel €€ new court view hotel

You can stay in the cute huts of the New Court Vie hotel from €51. This includes a double room with private bathroom and breakfast. There is a hot shower and the rooms are clean.

Read more!

In this blog you will find our favorite hotels in Uganda! Including campsites & lodges in national parks.

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  1. by Nile Abenteuer on 18 October 2021  09:42 Reply

    Thank you Charlotte for the beautiful and interesting article about Murchiosn falls national park. it is a very nice place to be and suitable for all categories of travelers including families with young children. activities in the park makes them engaged it. as for the experience, i was had a safari in the park staying at the student's centre and also got an encounter with a big male Baboon, exciting information from the ranger who came to my rescue was that male baboons are not scared of women/ladies i was so frightened to death because the big guy was really so determined to get my food at all cost. the blog is so informative and well detailed i highly appreciate your work.

  2. by Mugenyi joe phillips on 26 October 2021  22:12 Reply

    Thank you for putting Uganda on the map. You are a true ugandan .good, good . Am thrilled by your pictures dear.

  3. by Omony Denis on 13 November 2021  04:07 Reply

    Beautiful piece worth reading n am thrilled as a local journalist in Nwoya, a district hosting Murchison Falls National Park.
    Next time come again n visit us Charlotte....... God's blessings

  4. by Scb tours and travel on 27 April 2022  06:11 Reply

    Wow thanks , it's a great experience and thanks for sharing

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