Murchison Falls NP, the largest of Uganda’s ten National Parks is one of the most spectacular parks in all of Africa.
Famous visitors to the park include Winston Churchill, who in 1907 described it as ‘Kew Gardens and the zoo combined on an unlimited scale’. Theodore Roosevelt followed in 1909, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1930 and the Queen Mother in 1959. In 1951, the Falls provided a backdrop for Humphrey Bogart in the famous movie, The African Queen and in 1954 Ernest Hemingway literally crashed in when his plane clipped an old telegraph wire. Him and his wife were rescued and taken to Butiaba only to have their rescue plane crash on takeoff.
Murchison Falls NP lies in the north-west of Uganda, 90 kms from Masindi town and at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley. The park covers 3,893 sq km and is the core of the even larger Murchison Falls Protected Area (5,072km2) which includes the adjoining Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves. One of Uganda’s oldest conservation areas, it was initially gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and upgraded to a national park in July 1952.
Bisected by the Victoria Nile, the centre piece of the park is undoubtedly the top of them falls. After 80 kms of whitewater rapids this 50 metre wide river narrows dramatically to crash through a 6 metre gorge, plunging 43 metre to the rocks below. The falls were named in 1864 by the explorer Samuel Baker in honour of the Royal Geographical Society president at the time. Baker described it as 'the greatest waterfall of the Nile' and considered it ‘the most important object through the entire course of the river.