Murchison Falls National Park once had legendary numbers of animals. In the 1960s as many as 15,000 elephants, 27,000 buffalo and 14,000 hippos roamed the park. The turbulent Amin regime of the 1970s, the persistent instability and war in Northern Uganda in the following twenty years and the widespread poaching in these decades took their toll on the wildlife, more so on the park’s rhino population, which was completely wiped out. In the peaceful years since committed conservation efforts have been rewarded by flourishing wildlife once again.
Today Murchison Falls National Park is once again one of Uganda’s finest viewing areas boasting 76 mammal species including Uganda Kobs, lions, elephants, Jackson’s hartebeest, Rothschild’s giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. Blue and red-tailed monkeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys can be found in the forested sectors of the park and the savannah-dwelling patas monkey that is only found elsewhere in Kidepo Valley National Park can be sighted. Around 800 chimpanzees live in the Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests.
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s oldest, largest and best-known national park. It takes its name from the resplendent Murchison Falls that were themselves named in 1864, after the President of the British Royal Geographical Society, Sir Roderick Murchison.
Murchison Falls National Park is located in the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley where the massive Bunyoro escarpment meets the vast palm-dotted savannah of the extensive Acholi plain. It spreads inland from the shores of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile, east to the Karuma Falls. The park was once called the Gulu and Bunyoro Game Reserve and was gazetted in 1952 to include the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu Wildlife Reserves.
Murchison Falls National Park is dissected from east to west by the Victoria (White) Nile, which at the Murchison falls forces its way through a narrow 7m gap in the rocks to plunge 50ft into a gorge and flow onwards as the Albert Nile. The northern half of the park contains savannah and is inhabited by 80% of the entire park’s animals including robust populations of Ugandan Kob, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, leopard and lion that roam the wooded savannah in hordes.
Murchison Falls National Park makes for a spectacular safari that offers up three great ways to observe and enjoy the wildlife; game drives in vehicles, the famed boat cruise that leads up to the base of the falls.