Game drives or game safaris in Murchison Falls are done from the comfort of a 4-wheel drive safari vehicle following established tracks. A game drive/game safari is one fantastic way to explore animal tracks. During Game drives in Murchison, you experience nature up-close and where the African jungle just comes live right before you. Animals are viewed still walking wild, how cool that is! While the grazers especially, may seem not bothered by the passing vehicle, the shy ones will flee to some hideouts. Carnivores chasing for prey is the most sought-for jungle scene by most visitors on a Wildlife Safari to the park. Safari game drives shall position you well for such impressive wildlife encounters and more of nature’s surprising moments. A game drive experience in Murchison Falls National Park is further enhanced by the park’s landscape which is so perfect for the activity as well as the eye candy scenery that makes the drives beautiful and breath-taking.
Animals to look out for during game drives
Murchison Falls National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife species with over 76 mammal species including four of the Big Five mammals – Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and the Elephant. Other animals to see during a game drive in Murchison Falls Park include Giraffes, Mongoose, Jackals, spotted Hyenas, Serval cats, Uganda Kobs, Reed bucks, bush bucks, Water bucks, Statungas, Harte beasts, Hippos at the Delta, Bush Pigs, Warthogs, Ground Squirrels, Patus Monkeys, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Bats, some reptiles, among others.
Murchison Falls National Park is also a birder’s paradise with over 450 bird species including the most sought after Shoebill Stork, Secretary bird, Abdims stork, Malachite kingfishers, Yellow-billed stork, the African darter and many more. During game drives, such a wealth of bird life will enhance your safari experience spotting them hovering up or even flashing from the thickets and trees.
Best areas/sectors for game drives in Murchison Falls National Park
The most rewarding and successful game drive is that done at the north of the park although the south too is open for the same. The savannah and woodland ecosystem to the north supports a large and wider variety of wildlife compared to the south that is dominated by forests.
There are 3 prime areas of interest for game drives on the northern sector. The best for viewing animals is the Buligi circuit which includes the Buligi, Victoria Nile, Queen’s and Albert Nile tracks. The Pakuba track is an extension to the Buligi track and offer better chances for Leopards sightings though more other animals can as well be spotted.
Areas like Chobe have fewer animals but are mostly good for nature walks and great views of the Nile River. The Nyamsika gorge attracts lions, buffaloes and some water animals.
Apart from the primates, in the south are some antelopes plus the giraffes that were translocated there in 2016 to enhance tour activities in the then newly established honeymoon track.
Best time for game drives in Murchison Falls National Park
The best time of the year for the game drives in Murchison Falls Park is the dry season when the vegetation thins out. This allows less obstructed views of animals including those at distant locations where vehicles’ reach is restricted by the national park rules that indicate driving through established tracks only. Animals tend to feed from further places so early starts are always recommended. Also around this time, the tracks are more navigable. The wet seasons too have advantages when it comes to wildlife viewings; animals tend to feed from near the tracks. The disadvantage is that rains stimulate vegetation (over)growth which again conceals the wildlife from view.
Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are done throughout the year and any time of the day save for some park rules and the natural factors that limit some activities during particular times of the day. It should also be noted that the main attraction and purpose for the game drive is the prospect of capturing some wildlife scenarios. This can be achieved when the jungles are visited at a time when animals are more active and that is early mornings at 6.30am and evenings from 4.30pm. At such times, the good weather, particularly the lowered temperatures will see them come out of their hide outs to graze and hunt. Also note that the Nile valley is one of the hottest places in Uganda so by 10.am, you will start to see animals looking for shade.
Recommended cars to use for game drives
Vehicles used on game drives should be customized to offer comfort, high vantage point of view, more space, proper aeration and quite a driving experience through the rough game tracks. Any spacious 4×4 safari truck/vehicle with a pop up roof and wide clear windows is good enough for a great game drive experience although the most preferred is a safari land cruiser. There are vehicles for hire at the park and some lodges just incase your vehicle is not strong/fit enough for the rough game trails. They are hired at not less than $100 per game drive. When you book the Murchison Falls Trip with Jungle Escape Africa, you have the best vehicle for the game drive and other park activities.
Safety during game drives in Murchison Falls National Park
Conformity to the Park Rules and Regulations during a game drive is vital at all times. Whereas the rules are primarily for ensuring conservation of wildlife, observing safety precautions can limit any dangers near wildlife. Please be aware that Uganda’s protected areas are very wild, so while on safari, don’t get out of your vehicle unless permitted by one of the expert rangers/guides. On many occasions, visitors have been spotted trying to get out of the vehicles and try to get close to wildlife to take pictures. The park rules prohibits this.
Where to stay on a game drive safari
Until the recent construction of a permanent bridge across the Nile, crossing to the north of the park used to be by a ferry to those that stayed in lodges located at the south. Consequently, there were delays to hit the game trails as the ferry crossing schedules couldn’t allow crossing at an own time. However still, it is much faster to hit the game trails from the lodges at the northern sector than from the south.
Lodges at the south include: Nile Safari Lodge, Bakers Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Budongo Eco Lodge, Red chilli Rest Camp, Sambiya River Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, among others.
At the north are lodges like, Paraa Safari Lodge, Pakuba Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Heritage Safari Lodge, Fort Murchison Lodge, Bwana Tembo Safari Camp, Hornbill Safari Lodge, Parkside Safari Lodge and others.
Night game drives in Murchison Falls National Park
Night game drives in Murchison Falls National Park are guided unlike day drives, and have to be booked through the park’s UWA offices. Night game drives give a clear insight into the jungle and animals’ behaviors at night besides betraying the elusive nocturnals. Night Game drives start at 8.00pm in the company of an armed park ranger with a spotlight torch. As other animals rest away the night, Leopards, Porcupines, Hyenas, Mongooses, Lions and Bush babies can easily be spotted actively hunting. Hippos too, are nocturnal grazers that can be spotted at this time or very early morning as they troll back to the water areas. Amazingly, animals tend to welcome the light of the day with their distinctive calls but quietly disappear to their hide outs after their last meal in the evening. The beauty of making both day and night game drives is the prospect of widening your game sightings.
Other things to do at Murchison Falls National Park
There are many possibilities for this park to create a memorable experience for the visitors. Boat Safari in Murchison Falls National Park. Apart from Game drives, the boat cruises on the Victoria Nile to the Murchison Falls base or to the Albert Delta will put you right at the heart of nature. Wildlife adventure is always at its best with the full sight of the bottom of Murchison falls, animals grazing at the river banks, hippos playing in water, crocodiles, birds and the sunset views. At Kaniyo Pabidi area of Budongo Forest Reserve, Chimpanzee trekking, forest walks and bird watching shall greatly complement your Murchison falls game drive experience. Last but not least is the exciting top of the Murchison falls excursion for the bewildering spectacle of the world’s strongest waterfalls.
Other places for game drive experiences in Uganda include the known savannah parks of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Lake Mburo National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable and Kibale National Park are primarily primate viewing parks; for the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
Best Tours for a game drive experience
- 2 Days Murchison Falls and Ziwa Rhinos
- 3 Days Murchison Falls Wildlife Safari
- 3 Days Murchison Falls flying Safari
- 3 Days Murchison Falls with Rhinos and Chimps
- 4 Days Murchison Falls, Chimps & Rhinos
- 5 Days Murchison Birding & Mabamba Shoe bill tour.