Murchison Falls Safari, Uganda

This is a quick post about how we visited the Murchison Falls National Park, in Uganda, for a self drive safari. I provide details that include maps, costs and links to additional details, photos and videos. This is a self-guided safari adventure without a shoestring.

I knew very little about Murchison Falls National Park but so many people had mentioned it in my short time in Uganda that I figured it was worth a 4-day visit.

easy So we tossed very little in the car and set out at 8am from Kampala for a day’s (fairly easy drive) to the national park. We arrived at the park gate around noon (paid for two days entry (each 24 hr day starts when you pay for the pass). We then drove another 1.5 hours to reach our base, Red Chilli Rest Camp (See below for my disappointing accommodation rating).

After checking in we put together a rough plan. First visit the Falls on foot and walk the trail along it’s shore. The next morning do a self-drive safari to spot wildlife. Then an afternoon lazy boat ride to see more wildlife and the falls from the down-river side. Finally head back on the third day and exit the gate before our 48 hours expired.

cost range

Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $$

Cost Details:

Red Chilli Rest Camp ($40 per night bungalow x2 nights)
Meals (breakfast $5, lunch $10, dinner $15 x2 days)
Adult Park Entry (FNR=$40, FR=$30, EAC=$7) – 2 day
Local Car Fee
Murchison Falls Foot Viewing Fee
River Boat to Falls Viewing Fee
Total (for one person) $248
2023 prices (FNR=Foreigner Non-Resident, FR=Foreigner Resident, EAC=East Africa Citizen)

Murchison Falls National Park Falls Walking Visit

After checking in (and lunch) we drove the 28 km distance back to reach the south side viewing area of the falls. Note that there is a $10 fee paid at the falls turn-off for foot access to the falls. It includes the long trail walk, even though the trail signs say the fee is $15. The falls (and the trail hike) are worth visiting.

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Click to watch Merchison Falls Video

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Murchison Falls National Park Self-Drive Safari

The following morning we set out for a self-drive safari on the north side of the river. Note that a new bridge has been built to replace the ferry boat crossing. The south side of the park is forest and wildlife (besides baboons on the road) are impossible to glimpse. However the north side is dry savanna and chock full of wildlife. Download the murchison-park-map for details.

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Murchison Falls National Park Boat Trip

After the safari drive and lunch we signed up for the 3 hour boat ride to see the falls. We used the Uganda Wildlife Authority office (on the left side of the road before the turn-off down to the boat ramp (boat ramp is on the south side of river at the new bridge).

The boat was comfortable, the guide was knowledgeable, the drinks available for purchase were cold and the wildlife spotting and falls views were excellent.

I noticed a lot of boats (of different types and organizations) on the river and recommend you check out the boat options carefully. It was a long and hot boat ride and I was glad to be on the well shaded UWA boat rather than on some of the less shaded options I saw plying the waters.

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Murchison Falls National Park Wildfires

On our drive back to the rest camp the previous day we noticed smoke on the horizon. As we got closer we came across a large wild fire approaching the road.

I asked the Uganda Wildlife Authority about the fires the following day and was informed that they are managed fires.

The park management burns sections of the forest (on the south side of the river) periodically to benefit the grazing wildlife on that side of the river.

Murchison Falls National Park Accommodation Rating

We stayed 2 nights at the Red Chilli Rest Camp and I was disappointed. Let me first say that the location, staff and food are excellent. However, I asked to see a bungalow before checking in and was shown an acceptable unit (bungalow $40/night & Safari tent $35/night).

Then after checking in (paying) we were given the last and worst bungalow in the camp (Calago unit). Cracked walls, no furniture, direct sunlight exposure most of the day, ants, broken glass slats and finally a bed with a crater in the center.

The following day I noticed most of the bungalows were empty so checked them out. They were in excellent condition (like the one we were shown before checking in). I asked to move and the registration staff were happy to oblige.

That afternoon I noticed a newly arrived couple was given the crappy Calago bungalow, even though the majority of other nice bungalows were free. Why this is done is a mystery to me. I rate the establishment a 2 out of 5 as a result.

Other Uganda Outtings

Check out the Escape from Kamapla post for a summary of Uganda stuff.

Read the Punishment Island, Lake Bunyonyi blog.

Read about the Nyero Rock Paintings day trip.

Read about the Jinja Source of the Nile Ride for other local fun things to do.

Watch more 3 minute videos.

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