Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is known for being the oldest and largest park in Uganda covering an area of 3,893km2 located in the northwestern part of Uganda near Masindi city. Murchison falls park was established in 1952 by the British administration and is now under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority harboring over 76 mammals with a huge population of hippos, species, 450 bird species, During the leadership of Idi Amini Dada, he tried to change the name to Kabalega falls but later after his overthrow, it returned to Murchison falls though some people still call it Kabalega falls. This article explains some basic information including how to access the park, park entrance fees, some activities carried out in the park and where to stay during the Murchison falls safari.
How best can one access Murchison falls park?
Murchison Falls Park can be accessed either by road using the bus, shuttle, private car, or by air using the plane.
By road: Murchison falls national park is 283km from Kampala the capital city of Uganda which is a 4-5 hours’ drive in a private vehicle and 374km from Entebbe international airport which is about 6-7 hours’ drive considering the traffic and other stopovers along the way. This is due to the fact that several visitors on a Murchison falls trip normally chose to pass by the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary to trek the white rhinos before proceeding to the park. However, others prefer visiting the park and trekking the rhinos on their way back to Kampala. Wish to trek rhinos and have the best Murchison falls safari?, then look no further than booking a 4 days Murchison falls safari with us to have a glance at the big 4 in one park alongside the fifth one at Ziwa rhino sanctuary to sum up the game of Big 5.
By Air: Visitors who choose to fly from either Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield have to land in pakuba and then have a 45min -1 hour drive to the park entrance. These flights are offered by Fly Uganda and aero link Uganda offer the best round trip flights from Entebbe to pakuba then from pakuba to Entebbe airport
Entrance fees for Murchison falls national park
To access Murchison falls national park like any other protected area in Uganda, the Uganda wildlife Authority has stipulated a certain fee to be levied on people, buses, ferry crossing, aircraft landing, among others before entering the park. The revenue collected is later on used in conservation process thus boosting the tourism sector in Uganda. Protected areas in Uganda vary from national park, game reserves, sanctuaries, zoos among others
Below are details for all the park entrance fees for Murchison falls national park for 2019
Entrance Fees levied on persons in Murchison falls national park
The fee is levied on people according to their residence status, age, and a number of days to spend in the park. Foreign Non-Resident access the park at a cost of $40 per person, foreign residents pay $30 for the entrance permit per person, and East African community members pay UgX 20,000 to access Murchison falls national park. The above fee is for adults. However, the children (between 5-15 years) also have their own fee for the entrance in Murchison falls which include; $20 for foreign Nonresidents, $10 for foreign residents and UgX.5000 for the east African community members. However, the Ugandan pupils have their own charge of UgX.3000 while the Ugandan students from the university and other tertiary institutes. These charges for entrance are exclusive of the activities to be done inside the park and they are charged on a daily basis. In case a person stays in the park for more than 24hours, an additional charge applies and will be charged for the extra days spent inside.
However, UWA stipulated the annual park entrance fees which are only valid for Foreign Residents and east African community members only and the fee is categorized according to the classes of people as different classes pay different fees but to obtain this entrance pass for the full year, one needs to present a valid work permit as below,
- Individuals who wish to access the park annually are charged a cost of $350 per person and UgX.150, 000 for East African Community members.
- The couples who wish to access the park for the whole year are entitled to a fee of $500 for foreign residents and UgX. 200,000 for East African community members.
- The annual park entrance fee for the corporates is $1,500 for Foreign Residents and UgX. 2,500,000 for East African members
- Uganda Wildlife Authority stipulated an annual entrance pass for a family with maximum 4 children at $700 for foreign residents and UgX. 300,000 for east Africans.
- A foreign Resident tour operator is charged $ 50 per annum whereas the east African tour operators are charged UgX. 125,000 for the entire year.
- Safari guides and taxi drivers to the park must be east Africans and they are charged UgX .100,000 to access the park annually whereas the tour company drivers access the park free of charge at any time.
Entrance fees for vehicles in Murchison falls national park
All vehicles entering passing through Murchison Falls Park pay a certain fee as set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The fee is paid according to the type of vehicles and the size as explained below;
The tour company vehicle and all 4×4 safari vehicles pay $150 for Foreigns whereas the Ugandan registered tour company vehicles pay UgX. 30,000 to access the park. This amount is paid only once during the ENTRY and EXIT is free of charge.
All pick-ups, minibuses and Omni buses crossing or entering the park are charged $50 for foreigns and UgX.15, 000 for East African Saloon cars pay $40 for foreigns whereas East Africans pay UgX 10,000. East African school buses are charged UgX. 50,000 to enter the park. However, foreign school buses aren’t allowed into the park. Over landers, Buses and Lorries for foreigns pay $150 before entering or passing through the park whereas, overlanders for East Africans pay Ugx.100, 000 and the east African buses and Lorries pay UgX. 150,000 as the entrance fee before entering into the park. Delivery vehicles for East Africans are charged UgX 20,000 as the entrance fee before entering the park.
- Ferry crossing fees
The ferry crossing fee is paid according to the weighs in tones and size of the vehicles that are crossing using the ferry. This ferry always has designated time of crossing meaning that late comers are at a risk of missing the ferry and waiting for the next turn.
Vehicles weighing 2 tones and below are charged UgX.20, 000, vehicles weighing between 2-5 tones are charged UgX.40,000 for ferry crossing whereas the vehicles with weight between 5-10 tones pay UgX.80,000 and the vehicles weighing between 10-20 tones pays UgX. 150,000. Motor cycles crossing the ferry pays UgX. 5000 the same applies to passengers.
The above ferry fees are charged per vehicles. However, all the vehicle drivers, school buses and students are allowed to cross on the ferry free of charge.
- Air craft landing fees in Murchison falls national park
All the Aircrafts landing in Murchison falls national park pay a specific fee depending on the sizes and the numbers of seats they have. This amount is paid every time the plane lands at the park
All Gliders and microlights are charged $10 for foreigners per landing whereas the east Africans are charged UgX.20, 000 per landing at the park. A three Seater plane pays $ 20 for all foreigners both residents and nonresident while the three Seater for east Africans pays UgX.40, 000, Four to six Seater pays $40 for foreigners and UgX.80, 000 for east Africans every time pays $30 dollars for foreigners and UgX.60,000 for east Africans per landing. A 7-14 it lands on Murchison falls national park. A 15-20 Seater pays $50 for foreigners and UgX. 100,000 for East Africans per landing. A 21 Seater and above pays $60 for foreigners and UgX. 120,000 for East Africans per landing.
However, Helicopters are charged $100 for foreign residents, $125 for foreign nonresidents and UgX.250, 000 for east Africans per landing. The aircraft parking fees per day is at a cost of UgX. 10,000
All the above fees are effective for 2019 and most of them are still effective for 2020-2022 but can be changed at any time. So visitors who wish to organize their own private safaris should always read and understand all the park entrance tariff to avoid incurring cost which they haven’t planned for in advance. However, visitor who book their trips through a tour company are on a safer side as everything is organized by the tour operator and visitor enjoy the maximum pleasure of the trip at ease.
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park
Inside the Murchison falls national park, several activities take place at different costs including the game drives, hiking, launch cruise, community encounters, hot air ballooning, sport fishing, nature walks, chimpanzee trekking and birding as elaborated below;
Game drive: Murchison falls national park offers both day and night game drives. However, in case a visitor needs a ranger during the drive, then a cost of $20 for foreigners and UGX.20,000 for east African community is incurred.
Night game drive is always conducted with the help of armed game rangers, and sport lights for easy viewing throught the thick blush at a fee $100 per vehicle for foreigners and UGX 100,000 for East African community members per vehicle.
Top of fall hiking: This is yet another fascinating activity offered to visitors who visit Murchison falls National Park while on a Ugandan safari. The cost of hiking to the top of falls is $15 for foreign non-residents, $10 for Foreign Residents and UgX 10,000 for the members of East African Community per person.
Launch trip: The launch trips in Murchison falls national park to the bottom of the falls is done at a cost of $30 for all foreigners both residents and nonresidents, and UgX.30, 000 for East African community members per person. This offers the best sightings of the water birds, and several mammals along the shores of Lake Albert
Birding: The best birding destinations in Murchison falls national park are the forests such as Kaniyo Pabidi forest, Budongo and Rabongo forests. However some of these forests such as Budongo forest are also well known for harboring our cousins the Chimpanzees thus enabling chimpanzee trekking activity alongside birding and other activities inside and around the park. Other birders in Murchison falls opt for a delta cruise to the opposite direction of the usual boat cruise towards Lake Albert which provides a wider view of several bird species including the shoebill stork. Apart from birds, several mammals are also seen congesting the shores of Lake Albert and Nile River for water.
Sport fishing: Sport fishing in Murchison falls national park is done at a cost of $50 per day but visitors who wish to do it for 4 days, they have a special offer at $150 and those interested in an annual fishing permit, it goes for $300 per person excluding the park entrance fees.
Hot air ballooning: Murchison falls park is the only park in Uganda that offers this fascinating activity of touring the entire park in the balloon viewing several mammals and taking clear photographs of the wildlife from above.
Other activities include cultural encounters where visitors meet the BOMU communities, Rhino trekking outside the park at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, forest walks, among others.
All in all, the fact is that Murchison falls national park remains the best park in Uganda where visitors encounter the big 4 of the five and then visit the rhinos in Ziwa sanctuary to make the big five alongside all other unique sightings in the park.
Where can one stay during the Murchison safari?
There are several lodges and campsites inside and around the park where visitors can relax their minds during the safari. These include budget lodges, midrange lodges and luxury lodges which gives the clear view of the park and some other features like river Nile, Lake Albert and much more.
Some of these lodges include; Paraa safari lodge which is located near Nile River, Nile safari lodge, Red Chili Rest Camp, Sambiya river lodge, pakuba lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Masindi lodge and many more.