Murchison Falls National Parks is Uganda’s largest national park that is famous for two things: its safari park and massive waterfall.
What is Murchison Falls National Park?
Never heard of Murchison Falls? Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. It’s located in Masindi, in the northeast corner of Uganda.
Murchison is known two things: its sprawling safari park and its waterfall (hence the ‘Falls’ part of the name.)
At Murchison Falls you can see four out of the Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, and Cape buffalos. The only member of the Big Five you won’t see? Rhinos. You’ll need to go to nearby Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to see them.
I recently visited Murchison Falls and had an amazing time. It’s laid-back and untouristy, and wonderful place to experience your first safari. The park was beautiful, and I was thrilled to finally see lions, elephants, and hyenas in the wild. So I wanted to create this three-day itinerary for anyone interested in doing a 3-day Murchison Falls safari.
Planning your 3-day Murchison Falls safari
You can use this itinerary regardless of whether you have your own car. If you don’t have a car, I recommend visiting Murchison Falls with a tour operator – I’ve heard good things about Red Chilli Tours.
Murchison Falls Safari: Day One
Leave Kampala or Entebbe at around nine a.m. Around lunch, stop at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Spot the rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to 19 southern white rhinos. For a fee, the sanctuary will give you a guide who will take you to see the rhinos on foot. Being so close to the rhinos was mind-blowing – we were less than twenty feet from them.
See my full review of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary here.
After the sanctuary, keep driving until you reach to the Murchison Falls National Park’s gate.
Admission to Murchison Falls National Park costs $40 USD for tourists but costs less for residents of East Africa and Ugandan citizens. Make sure to bring your passport!
Check into Red Chilli Rest Camp
Next, check into Red Chilli Rest Camp, a budget lodge located near the park. I liked Red Chilli Rest Camp because it serves delicious food and has a bonfire where backpackers share beers after dinner.
However if you’re scared of bugs, I wouldn’t recommend staying here – there are LOTS of beetles (several fell into my hair at dinner, ew). Also pack a portable charger (I use this one) as there are no outlets in the rooms and they generator is off from 10 p.m. – 7 a.m.
Also, make sure to pack bug spray, as Murchison Falls is a malarial area.
If you’d like something more upscale (i.e. no beetles), you can see more hotels in Murchison Falls here.
After check-in, settle in for a nice dinner. At Red Chilli, they offer three meal choices each night: meat, chicken, and vegetarian.
Pro-tip – before bed, ask check-in for a packed breakfast that you can take on safari the next morning.
After a few beers by the campfire, retire to your room and set your alarm for around 5:30.
Murchison Falls Safari: Day 2
Go on day one of your safari!
Grab your packed breakfast from the concierge, jump in your car, and drive to the ferry. The ferry only accommodates eight cars at a time, so it’s best to show up at 6 a.m. Plus, that way you will catch the sunrise over the Nile.
At the gate, ask for a safari guide. I highly recommend hiring a guide as he or she will be able to help you track the more elusive animals, like lions and elephants.
On your game drive, you will most likely see lions, giraffes, hyenas, elephants, warthogs, and many kinds of antelope. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a leopard. (If you do, I’m super jealous.)
Remember that the earlier you go in the morning, the better chance you have of seeing the animals. Plus, you’ll get better photos.
Relax by the pool at Paraa Safari Lodge
Spend the rest of the afternoon by the swanky pool at Paraa Safari Lodge. Their pool has a swim-up bar and beautiful views of the jungle.
It costs 40,000 UGX ($11 USD) for pool access.
Murchison Falls Safari: Day 3
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast
On day three, there’s no need to get up early, so enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Red Chilli.
Warning to all coffee lovers – the staff may ask if you want instant or fresh coffee. Gleefully you’ll respond, “Why fresh, of course!” And they’ll bring you a French press of instant coffee. Sadly, this is a common ruse in East Africa.
Stop by Murchison Falls
Next, drive over to Murchison Falls. Murchison Falls is a thundering waterfall in the middle of the jungle – it’s like a mini Iguazu Falls.
Note – If you want to do a waterfall cruise, know that most boat operators only go in the afternoon. See Trip Advisor reviews here.
After the falls, it’s time to drive back to Kampala. If you’re hungry, stop by the side of the road for pork skewers or a “rolex” (an omelet rolled in chapati — it’s a popular street food in Uganda).
Have you ever visited Murchison Falls? What interests you most about this itinerary?
Admission to Murchison Falls National Park costs $40 USD for tourists. Residents of East Africa and Ugandan citizens pay less. See more information here. Make sure to bring your passport!
What to wear on safari – I wore athletic top, shorts, and flip flops – because you’re in the car for most of the journey you don’t need honestly athletic shoes.
What to bring on safari – eye drops, as your eyes get dry due to the dust. Also bring your camera with an extra SD card, an extra camera battery, and ideally, a telephoto lens – this is what I use. You’ll be somewhat far from the animals so you’ll want to be able to zoom.
As mentioned, Murchison Falls is a malarial area, so DEFINITELY pack bug spray.
Where to stay at Murchison Falls – I stayed at Red Chilli Rest Camp, a budget lodge where rates start at $8 (tent) and standard double ($35). I recommend it as long as you’re not scared of bugs! If you’re staying there, pack a portable charger – there are no outlets in the rooms.
Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Uganda. I’ve used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.