Murchison falls national park, is the biggest national park in Uganda. The park is situated in the northern region of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Murchison falls is among Uganda’s best national park to visit. The park harbors abundant wildlife species, different vegetation types, 76 mammal species and also, the park is a home the big five wild game including, the lion, the elephant, buffaloes, leopard and the Rhinos currently gazetted at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary a home for the only reaming Rhinos after they were in extinction due to poaching. Murchison fall has more than just the big five , there are variety of animals spotted around the park besides the big five game that is the giraffe, water-bucks, warthogs, Jacksons, hartebeest, Oribi among others, birding spots with over 451 bird species which include; Albertine rift endemic birds, water birds, and savannah birds. Viewing birds in the scenic landscape and amazing wildlife of Murchison is among the most interesting experiences while on a Ugandan safari. Primates include; chimpanzee in Budongo forest, others include; olive baboon, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others. The park is located in the North-western part of the country and covers about 305 km from Kampala hence approximately 5-6 hours’ drive on a good road.
There are several bird species seen around the park, some of which rare, common, and occasional such as the Grey crowned crane (Uganda’s National bird), Giant Kingfisher, Giant Heron, Shoebill stork, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Nightjars, Marabou stork, Black headed lapwing, Back-bellied Bustard among others.
Birding in Murchison falls national park Uganda
The easiest way to spot birds in Murchison is on a game drive, nature walks through the savannah grasslands, and a boat cruise along the Nile and Albert Delta River. Birds such as the blue napped mouse birds, silver birds, weavers and others can be seen through the dry thorn-shrubs between Paraa and Red chilli. It is possible to see nocturnal birds such as the nightjars along the Paraa road and during the boat on the Nile, while on the boat, you will an opportunity to spot very many birds such as the shoebill, grey crowned cranes, Goliath herons, black headed lapwings among others can be spotted. The birds can be spotted during any of the following activities,
Boat cruise, Murchison falls national park, visitors taking part in the boat cruise will have an opportunity to sight a number of birds. The park offers two boat trips one is the boat trip downstream to the Victoria Nile delta and the boat upstream to the bottom of the falls. The boat trip, will offer you clear views of bird species along the shores of the lake and in the vegetation including, shoebill stork, lapwing, great blue turaco, African jacana, African skimmer, malachite kingfisher, saddle billed stork, fish eagle, Blue headed Coucal among others.
Game drive, game drives in Murchison falls are done either in the morning or evening around the park through the savannah woodland following different tracks. Such as the albert track, Buligi game track and queen’s track where you will be able to view bird species like, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black bellied bustard, marabou stork, weaver birds among others.
Guided nature walks, the guided nature walk involves walking in the forest on foot, during nature walk, you will get off the car and walk through the forest as you view the beautiful scenic features, vegetation, where you will be able to spot different bird types around the forest. The nature in Murchison falls, is done following the trails such as the swamp trails, Budongo forest, top of the falls, Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest. During the nature walk, you will be able to view the birds at a close range. birds spotted here include; Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Black-billed Barbet, Long-tailed Nightjar bird, Weaver Birds, Yellow-billed Stork, Martial Eagle, Silver bird among others.
Best time for birding
Bird watching is conducted all through the year although the best time is in January-March months during the dry season, this time in Uganda is a low tourist season, but birding is still plentiful. The rains commence from December-February and birding is still possible There are heavy rains from April-May and from August-October, which makes it difficult for bird watching as the hiking trails are muddy and the park’s roads are impassable. The shoebill is the most outstanding attraction of the park, though uncommon, but it can be seen during the dry season from January to M arch. Around November and May, migratory birds can be seen a round the park, best time for bird watching activities.
List of some of the birds found in Murchison falls
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Long-tailed Nightjar bird
Gray crowned crested crane
Birding Swamp Flycatcher
Read-throated Bee eater
Red winged Grey Warbler
What to carry
What to carry on your Murchison falls national park birding safari
- Backpack, this is very essential as it helps you carry all the necessary equipment you will need for your birding safari in Uganda.
- Binoculars, this will help you to view the distant birds
- Camera and extra batteries, the camera is useful as it helps you take photos of birds for memories during your birding safari in Uganda’s Murchison falls national park.
- A bird guide book, the guide book, will help you to identify different bird species and the actual destination in the park where the birds can be spotted. The guide book can be purchased at the park while you are going for the bird watching activity.
- Light clothes and shoes, mostly during the dry season to enable you move you freely and comfortably during the trek in the forest, but also remember to carry a warm jacket since the rains are un predictable.
- Hat and sunglasses, these will protect you from the sun’s rays
- Energy giving snacks and enough drinking water to boost the energy and to keep you hydrated.
- Also remember to carry items like insect repellent, malaria drugs so as to help you in case you get ill during the safari.
Murchison falls national park birding safaris, offer you great memories and enjoyable trip, you can also combine your birding safari with some out stunning activities like , hot air balloons game drives where you will view many animals in the park such as elephants, buffaloes, water bucks, warthogs, lions, leopards, Uganda kob, giraffe, among others, also chimpanzee trekking , in Budongo forest, boat cruse where you will spot water animals like the hippos, crocodiles, and some animals along the water banks feeding and drinking water.