Murchison Falls National Park
Just one word; amazing! You will be thrilled. Some of the unforgettable scenes of the mighty River Nile are found here. It's perhaps the largest of all National Game Parks in Uganda - so rich in fauna; the hippos, bucks, buffaloes and the monster crocs of the Nile, the vegetation is the savannah, purely untouched river line forest and woodland.
Named after the president of the English Royal Geographic Society in 1862 by Samuel Baker.
Part of the Albertine Rift. the White Nile flows through this park from east to west, before turning north when it contacts Lake Albert. Point of note is the spectacular Murchison Falls, where the Nile squeezes much of its water through a 7-meter wide cleft. Less know is the Uhuru Falls, adjacent to Murchison Falls. "Uhuru" means "freedom" in Swahili - these falls broke through the rock in the year of Uganda's independence.
Flora and fauna
Elephants, Rothschild's giraffe, nile buffalo, lelwel hartebeest, oribi, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, lion, leopard, hippo, nile crocodile, olive baboons, mongoose, honey badger, monitor lizards, black and white colobus, vervet monkey, chimpanzee and a wide array of bird life including the rare shoebill stork.
Tropical, rains April/May and Oct/Nov. Good to visit all year
Basically you either must bring your own car or rent one to enter Murchison. There is no public transportation through the park and reaching it from Masindi will probably require following one of the steps below.
Take an early bus to Masindi (at the time of this entry in January 2012, 15,000 U.Sh with Link Buses taken from Kampala city bus station at 7am,9am,12pm *Africa time*), from Masindi take a microbus to Biso (try to be at bus station before 8am) then from Biso take another microbus to Wanseko, finally from Wanseko take a motorbike to your camp. The other option is to hire private car from Masindi. With some luck you could get a free ride with the rangers, or you could arrange with a safari guide to drive you out to the park from Masindi. Yebo Tours , owned and operated out of Masindi, is the most affordable option but not the most experienced nor most reliable (entered park 30 minute late and left 2 hours earlier than the agreed time).
Another low-budget safari is offered by the Red Chili, which can be book out of their hostel in Kampala. Many safari companies offer safaris into this park. One is www.bahr-el-jebel-safaris.com. They operate the nearby River Safari camp. You can fly into nearby Arua Airport from Kampala (daily flights with Eagle Air) and this company will send a safari vehicle to get you.
You can stay with Boomu Women's Group who are located just outside Kichumbanyobo gate, the main gate to the park. You can get transport to there from Masindi. After your stay you can go to the park gate, just metres up the road and try to get a lift to your destination in the park. Either that or you can ask the staff to arrange for a taxi to take you to your destination. If your destination is chimp trekking in Pabidi, staff at Boomu Women's Group can help arrange transport to this site.
For non-residents, a one day permit costs US$40, for East African residents, US$30. Try buying your ticket in advance from Kampala or from park entrance to avoid any delay when entering the park.
There is also 5000 shelling for ferry crossing per car.
Your best bet is to either hire a car or go on an organized safari. Don't even bother hitching or taking a bus. It is VERY difficult to get around in the park without your own transportation. You might get lucky and have a safari opportunity with someone, but you might not.
Game drives, chimp walks, birding, boat trips
Community tours that offer a chance to see the local community, understand issues faced by rural Ugandans and learn about local food are offered at Boomu Women's Group . This group also offers a chance to see how local handcrafts are made.
Local crafts, drinks, snacks and simple meals can be purchased from Boomu Womens Group . As this is a community tourism project all sales directly help the surrounding community.
Yebo Tours is locally owned and operated and... professional! It is also the most affordable option we found coming from Kampala. We (one German, one American) received transport to and from Masindi, dinner, breakfast and lunch, accommodation in a traditional a self-contained banda, and a day tour which included four-hour game drive, boat-ride up to the Falls and nature hike, for $186/person. The owner himself guided us and proved knowledgeable both about the wildlife and local conditions. All in all a rewarding experience that we recommend.
The owner is nice however he can sometimes be too nice that he wouldn't stop campers from partying loud until 4am! This is most likely to happen during weekends and public holiday.
The Nile Safari Camp accessible through a very bumpy road is a luxury tent-style accommodation with spectacular service and wooden cabins overlooking the Nile River. Very quaint and rustic, but with 5-star service.
Paraa Lodge located on the "animal-side" of the Nile River is a hotel boasting a colonial style and a very good food buffet.
Simple and cheap'banda style' accommodation as well as camping can be found at Boomu Women's Group. .
River Camp located outside of the Park. But the operators regularly take the clients to Murchison as part of a package. The package includes the use of Swamp Airboats. The camp will also pick-up visitors who fly into nearby Arua airport, that has daily flights. See www.bahr-el-jebel-safaris.com
If you stay to the roads with a safari vehicle, there is no danger. However do not go off the marked roads.