Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest national park in Uganda. It’s also one of the oldest; already in 1926 it was known as a game reserve set to protect the savannah grasslands. Most known of all by its gorgeous, namesake Falls, where the mighty river Nile tucks itself through a 7-meter wide hole in the rock and continues its journey through the whole African continent.
Murchison Falls National Park was officially established in 1952. This is one of the places in Uganda of which Winston Churchill spoke so fondly about. It’s no wonder that he loved it. We loved it too; it’s lush, green riverbanks where elephants and hippos silently grazed, and the trees were buzzing with birdlife.
This is also the place where Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn filmed one of their iconic movies; “The African Queen” and where Earnest Hemingway crashed his plane and was severely injured.
Taking a Nile River Cruise
One of the best ways to enjoy this lushly green national park is to take a river cruise along the Nile River. Observing from a boat gives you an entirely different viewpoint to the wildlife on the river banks.
It took us over three hours to do the cruise along this White Nile river. During the cruise, we lost count of how many animals we saw. But it felt like there was something to see around every corner. We also got as close as the strong current allowed us to see the Murchison Falls. They were still far, but you could still see the thundering power of this famous waterfall.
We encountered elephants grazing on the banks and lots of hippos floating around, popping their heads sporadically in and out of the water. There were lots of little holes on the rocky shores along the river; brightly colored kingfishers had dotted them with their nests.
On our way back we saw an extraordinary large crocodile laying on the riverbank, partly covered by the tall grass. But we could still see that it was huge – at least 4 or 5 meters tall and thick as a block of a century-old tree.
It was a really disturbing thought that the crocodile could have easily destroyed our boat if it would’ve wanted to. But luckily it was just sleeping peacefully – I think. We could still sense that our captain didn’t go any closer than what seemed a quite safe distance and kept the boat’s motor running all the time.
Of course, you can also do traditional game drives by 4x4s in Murchison Falls National Park, but I’d still recommend taking at least one boat ride. You won’t regret your choice. On the traditional game drives, you can see giraffes, lions, kobs, elephants, and many other interesting species.
Murchison Falls National Park has an incredibly vast biodiversity and wide array of animal species. The park has grasslands, wooded savannah, tropical forests, wetlands, and open water covering approximately 39 ha at an altitude of more than 600 meters. There are 109 species of mammals and 476 species of birds calling this place a home.
The Spectacular Power of the Murchison Falls
In Murchison Falls is also the famous place where the river Nile pushes itself through only a 7-meter wide gorge in the rocky walls, creating a massive and respectfully looking waterfall, giving its name to the whole National Park. It plunges 43 meters below, to a spot that’s called the “Devil’s Cauldron.”
The origin of the White Nile lies in Uganda, near the town of Jinja, where you can do adventurous white water rafting, too. But here in Murchison Falls it puts up the best show and creates a sight truly worth seeing.
The best place to see Murchison Falls’ power is to go visit the top of the falls. You can drive pretty near and then take a little path up to the top of the falls. The walk doesn’t take more than 10 minutes or so, nor it is demanding.
There are no fences, despite on the main viewpoint, so be careful not to step too close to the edge. You wouldn’t survive the dive if you’d fall over. The roar of the water is thunderous, and you can feel in your body the enormous, rumbling power with what the water rushes through the narrow gorge. Here the Nile river continuously rages as all-white.
The air is so moist that it looks like it’d be foggy. The supports made of rock that remind us of a bridge which once was there, still stand on both sides of the 7-meter wide gap. The rocks near the falls are permanently wet and slippery, so tread carefully.
“Many people have jumped from there to their deaths”, our guide told us. Which, despite being a grim detail, I could wholly imagine because it would mean certain death. But we were there to admire its beauty, not to risk our lives getting too near to the edges.
Standing on the verge of the Murchison Falls I honestly felt myself small beside the Mother Nature, who showed me its immense power in the waterfall. Moments like that always makes me respect the nature even more.
And imagining that I was treading on the same grounds as Hemingway once walked, gave me a feeling of groovy nostalgia.
Tips for Visiting the Murchison Falls National Park
The climate is tropical and hot, and because Murchison Falls is located near the equator, it makes the temperature quite uniform throughout the year. So it’s quite pleasant to visit at almost any time of the year.
Just make sure you cover your cameras and other equipment properly or have waterproof cases on them, or otherwise, you will risk them getting seriously wet and probably damaged at the falls. A tripod for photographing the majestic Murchison Falls would be a good idea, too.
If you are in Uganda, my best tip would be not to skip a visit to this beautiful and lushly green National Park!
Have you visited here? What did you think? We’d love to hear your experiences about Murchison Falls National Park!
*Disclaimer: We were touring around Murchison Falls National Park with Mamaland Safaris, but all the opinions and views are entirely our own.