Practical Guide to Self Driving in Murchison Falls National Park

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Practical Guide to Self Driving in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls National Park is situated in Northwestern Uganda and it features as Uganda’s largest protected area covering about 4000 square kilometers. It straddles between altitude 650 meters and 1292 meters above sea level. It is credited for the big 5 game (African elephants, Lion, Buffaloes, Leopards and Rhinos in Ziwa Sanctuary) and many more. The park is reach in natural biodiversity and it features among the most sought after destinations in Uganda and East Africa at large.

To reach the Murchison Falls Game Park, the roads connecting from Entebbe airport are a bit fine and the whole journey takes up to 7 hours drive from the city centre. Based on East African standards, the road conditions throughout Uganda are better and they are improving nearly everyday. The standards of the highway maintenance are very low and they usually seem to be one highway in a state of disrepair and this means expect potholes and delays due to construction activity along the way. From Fort Portal through Hoima to Masindi and the Murchison Falls National Park, from Soroti to Mbale and North beyond Gulu are un-surfaced and they can take a bit longer hours for you to drive through. The state of these routes and the minor roads tend to be variable from one season to another and in most cases turn to be very challenging during wet season. Usually, the minibus drivers are stubborn and tend to overtake on blind corners and the large coaches feel on top of the food chains. It is always important to keep the eye on the rear view mirror and in case of anything you can simply get out of the road in advance to allow the minibus go.

The Southern Entrance Gates

The two Southerly entry points to Paraa lead out of Masindi town about 4 hours-305 kilometers from Kampala. Along Masindi route, there is Ziwa Sanctuary where Rhinos are only inhabited in Uganda. The main route from Masindi enters the Murchison Falls National Park through Kichumbanyobo gate, pass through Kaniyo Padidi Forest to Paraa about 85 kilometers.

Northern entrance gates

You can also enter the park via Chobe, Wankwar, Tangi and Mubako gates north of the Nile. They are all accessible from the Kampala-Pakwach route that crosses the Nile at Karuma Falls Bridge, Northeastern side of the park.

By Air

There are also scheduled aircraft from Entebbe International Airport/Kajjansi airfield near Kampala and then land in Pakuba airfield which is 19 kilometers from North Paraa. Other airfields around the park include Chobe to the east and Bugungu to the south.

Whether you are looking to self drive or guided safaris that you wish to undertake to Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda is safe and can be visited at any time of the year. However, do not leave your valuables in the vehicle when the vehicle is not attended and usually it is important to have your cash, water and a fully charged mobile phone together with you.

The park is best visited while on a four by four land cruiser cars or vans with a pop up that allow you to catch a glimpse of the interesting wildlife species and the spectacular views of its surrounding. The car should at least have radio or MP Player, SD card and take a mini jack for easy access to all your lovely music. Do not forget cables as you not find them in the car.

Murchison Falls National Park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and the charges for park differ from visitor to visitor. Foreign non-resents pay $40, foreign residents $30 and the East Africans shs.15000.

Interested visitors require travel insurance. It is only the vehicle that is comprehensively insured for 3rd party liability, fire, theft and accidents. You won’t get insured because of loss of property or personal accident.

However you need a travel visa. In East Africa visitors can now get a visa for crossing the border areas of the countries. This can be obtained from Rwanda Directorate General Immigration or any Uganda embassy.

Uganda is cash based destination. Most lodges in Uganda may not allow credit cards but ATMs are widely allowed in bigger urban areas especially for stanbic bank and Barclays are reliable banks accepting MasterCard, Maestro and visa.  US dollars and Euros are also highly exchanged into Ugandan shilling across forex bureaus.

Murchison Falls National Park is famous for game drive safaris and after or during the tour at least give a tip to the person offering a service to you as this can impact on their livelihoods and their families.

Most visitors visit national parks in Uganda during the dry season which starts from June to September and December to February. Note that Murchison Falls National Park is situated around the warmest areas in the country.

For accommodation and camping, there are several lodges and campsites that are found in Murchison Falls National Park all of which address different visitor interest. The notable lodges to stay while on self drive safari in the park include the Baker’s Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge-Luxury facility, Paraa Safari Lodge (Luxury), Nile Safari Lodge, Heritage Safari Lodge (budget), Bwana Temba Safari Camp and many more.

Where to Hire a Car

There are several car rental agencies in Uganda. You can check out the list of car agencies offering car rental in Uganda from this section.

Wrapping Up

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park and the one of the most visited protected areas in the country. It offers refuge to the big four game-African elephants, Lions, Leopards and buffaloes as well as other wildlife species, birds, Murchison Falls, chimpanzees at Budongo Forest and a lot more for you to catch a glimpse while on safari to the park.

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