Murchison Falls National Park

A visit to Murchison Falls National Park is a remarkable experience. The park offers great wildlife viewing – four of the Big Five, Rothchild’s giraffes, patas monkey, hippo and several species of antelope – and birdwatching throughout the year with over 450 species of birds, including the rare shoebill stork. A trip along the Victoria Nile will leave you gaping at the beauty and power of nature, while seeing the magnificent Murchison Falls for the first time will surely be the highlight of your trip. If you are feeling bold, you could even take a hike to the top of Murchison Falls, where you can see its power up-close.

  • Best Time To Go


  • Average Safari Cost

    $300-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $295

  • Highlights

    Chimps; four of the Big Five (no rhino), Rothchild’s giraffe; large-cheeked patas monkey; shoebill stork; boat ride up the Victoria Nile and to the Murchison Falls, 450 bird species

Why Visit Murchison Falls National Park?

Murchison Falls is the largest nature reserve in Uganda, and has an abundance of wildlife to view. Elephants, buffalo and lions can all be seen in abundance, while leopards are more difficult to spot. Hippos and crocodiles have claimed the Victoria Nile as their home.

The Victoria Nile bisects the park, with woodland to the south of river and a savannah to the north. A trip on the Victoria Nile leads to the striking Murchison Falls. For the more adventurous travellers, hiking to the top of Murchison Falls is an experience not to be missed.

With over 450 species of birds present, Murchison Falls National Park is a great birdwatching destination. You can almost certainly see the shoebill stork while taking a trip down the Victoria Nile and from November until April is the only time to see migratory birds.

Pros And Cons

  • Chimpanzee trekking in the Budongo forest is amazing
  • Excellent wildlife viewing
  • Boat trip down the Victoria Nile to the Murchison Falls, and the Lake Albert delta
  • Beautiful scenery with a truly spectacular waterfall
  • Excellent birdwatching with 450 species present
  • Seeing the sheobill stork is almost certain
  • Not part of a standard safari tour; usually an add-on
  • Roads and trails can be inaccessible after heavy rains

Best Time To Go

Dry season: December – February Wet season: March – November Murchison Falls is constantly hot, with hardly any variation in temperature. However, the temperature does briefly, but markedly, increases from December to February. It rains lightly for the remainder of the year (March to November), with storms occasionally passing through. The large difference in altitude throughout the park also affects temperatures.

December to February is the easier time to spot animals as undergrowth is scarce and they tend to gather at reliable waterholes. From June till September the weather is cooler and precipitation is less. This is when the park is at its busiest, as most visitors prefer the more pleasant temperature.

While birdwatching is good throughout the year, it is at its finest from January to March. This time has the added benefit of being the low-season – the park will not be crowded and safari rates could be lower. If your preferences lean towards migratory birds instead, November to April will be the best time to meet them.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that heavy rains will make some roads impassable, which will cause delays, or may prevent you from reaching certain areas of the park. Hiking trails will also be sodden and slippery.

For more detailed information on when to visit, see out Uganda Safari Guide.

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Wildlife And Birds

Murchison Falls is home to four of the Big Five (apart from rhino). Elephants and buffalos roam in large herds and lions can easily be seen lazing in the grass. Although the ever mysterious leopards are more difficult to spot, you can test your luck in finding them. The park is one of only three in Uganda to host giraffes. And meeting the patas monkey also known as the wadi monkey or hussar monkey with notoriously large cheeks can make a great safari highlight.

There are several primates, including chimpanzees, which can be tracked in the Budongo forest. Other mammals include: waternuck, Jackson’s hartebeest, Uganda kob, grey duiker, oribi, bushbuck, and the rarely seen hyena. The Victoria Nile, being a great water source, draws many animals, and its depths are home to an abundance of hippo and crocodile.

List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Giraffe

Rare Animals

  • Leopard; patas monkey; hyena

Infrequently Seen Animals

  • Lion; chimpanzee

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, giraffe; hippo; buffalo; crocodile; grey duiker; Uganda kob; Jackson’s hartebeest; waterbuck


Murchison Falls contains more than 450 species of birds. The park has nearly perfect sightings of the sought-after shoebill stork, and makes it one of the finest places in Africa for encounters with these rare birds. Taking a boat trip down the Victoria Nile to the Lake Alberta delta will ensure that you almost certainly spot a shoebill or two. This boat trip, as well as a trip to the Murchison Falls, is a great way to see many water-related birds. The park is also home to 53 species of raptors. November to April is the only time to observe migratory birds.

Endangered Birds

Endemic and Near-Endemic Birds:

  • Abyssinian ground hornbill; African jacana; African quailfinch; Black-billed barbet; Black-headed gonolek; Black-headed lapwing; Blue-headed coucal; Denham’s bustard; Eastern grey plantain-eater; Giant kingfisher; Goliath heron; Malachite kingfisher; Palm-nut vulture; Piapiac; Red-throated bee-eater; Shoebill; Silverbird; Speckle-fronted weaver; Squacco heron; Swamp flycatcher; White-browed sparrow-weaver.

Getting There And Safety

You will arrive in Uganda at Entebbe International Aiport (EBB), which is 46km (29miles) from Kampala. If you are part of a tour group, your guide will arrange for all necessary transport from this point forward. This is recommended as there are highly forested areas in Uganda, and travelling independently is not wise.

It takes roughly four hours to drive to Murchison Falls National Park (305km/190mi north of Kampala). Thankfully, it is possible to take a chartered flight or scheduled aircraft to Pakuba, Chobe or Bugunda Airfield. These flights are easily arranged with your tour operator as part of your tour package.

Murchison Falls doesn’t fit into a suitable tour route, and as such is usually visited as an add-on to a classic safari package.


If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Uganda

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Uganda

To view most relevant information on flying into Uganda please see our Uganda Safari Travel Guide.

To view most relevant information on visas for Uganda please see our Uganda Safari Travel Guide.
Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Uganda. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.

What To Pack

Murchison Falls is hot and has light rainfall for most of the year. As such, wet-weather gear would be suitable – as would sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, so be sure to include them. Wear long-sleeved clothing at night, and invest in mosquito repellent (30% DEET or more).

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.


It is particularly important to have a valid yellow fever certificate. It would be best to speak to your travel clinic or doctor about which vaccinations are needed.

To view most relevant information on vaccinations for Uganda please see our Uganda Travel Guide.

Chimp Trekking Safety
To view most relevant information on visas for Uganda please see our Uganda Travel Guide: Getting There And Safety - Ape Trekking.
Drinking Water
The water in Uganda is not safe to drink – not even to brush your teeth. Bottled water is the safest, but be sure to check that it is sealed before purchasing it. Avoid water going in your mouth while showering and do not buy water that is contained in a plastic bag, no matter how cheap it is. Avoid using ice blocks, and enquire if juice is made with boiled or bottled water. Boiled water is use to make tea and coffee, and as such they are considered say.
Boat Trip Safety
Your guide will likely give you a life jacket to wear, and a set of rules to follow while you are onboard. Pay attention to your guide, and all should be well.
The park is relatively safe, but be sure to follow the instructions and rules that your guide will likely give you. It is, however, best to remain cautious when travelling in Uganda itself, particularly in large towns such as Kampala. As a developing country, muggings and robberies are commonplace in Uganda. Avoid walking alone or travelling at night. It would also be best not to have expensive or personal items on display.