History Of Murchison Falls National Park

History of murchison falls national park

History of murchison falls national park

History of murchison falls national park : Murchison Falls National Park is the largest and oldest conservation area in Uganda, the park is found in northwestern Uganda in Masindi district and lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savannah.

Murchison Falls National park is part of the Murchison Conservation Area together with Bugungu wildlife Reserve and Karuma Falls reserve.

Murchison Falls National park is bisected by the Victoria Nile from East to West for a distance of about 115 kilometers, here the waters of the Nile river flow through a narrow gorge which is only 7 meters wide, the river then plunges 43 meters down forming Murchison Falls – the world’s most powerful waterfall.

The first early European explorers to visit and see Murchison Falls National Park was John Speak  and James Grant in 1862, later on the park was explored by a lovely couple – Sir Samuel Baker and Florence Baker who explored the area thoroughly in 1863 to 1864. During their exploration, they realized that falls currently known as Murchison Falls were phenomenal in the whole of the area, Samuel Baker gave the falls a name “Murchison Falls” after a geologist and president of the royal geological society (RGS) called Roderick Murchison in 1864.


murchison falls wildlife

For the record, the falls were formerly known as Kabalega Falls a name attributed to the King of Bunyoro Kingdom “King Kabalega”.

In the period between 1907 and 1917, the area known today as Murchison Falls National Park was left vacant as the inhabitants evacuated the area due to the rampant spread of sleeping sickness that was caused by the huge numbers of sense flies in the area.

In 1910, the Bunyoro Game Reserve was created in the Southern part of the area stretching in the present Bulisa, Kiryandongo and Masindi. Later in 1928, the boundaries of Murchison Falls national park extended northwards from the Northern shore of the Victoria Nile to the present day Nwoya district. The Bunyoro Game reserve encompassed of the area South of the Nile River that is now part of the National park in Masindi district, the extension of the reserve boundaries into Gulu district north of the river resulted into the protected area becoming to be known as the Bunyoro – Gulu Game Reserve.

As the human population had already be evacuated due to the sleeping sickness, it was very possible to establish this game reserve without replacing any of the local people for the sake of the park. In 1932, the Budongo Forest Reserve was established, this became the first commercial logging concession in Uganda and to date the area is one of the most intensively studied working forests in the world. The boundaries of the forest continued to be expanded for the bext thirty years until it reached its current size of 825 square kilometers.

Due to frequent changes, much animosity was created by the process of extending boundaries of the forest as locals lost land yet they never knew where the boundaries were.

 In 1952, the British administration established National Parks Act of Uganda, after forty years of reduced hunting in Bunyoro – Gulu Game Reserve, the population of animals had increased which prompted the expansion and upgrading the reserve which became Murchison Falls national Park making it the first national park to be established in Uganda.

Murchison Falls National Park was established together with Queen Elizabeth national park and by mid- 1960s, the park became the premier safari destination in the whole of East Africa.

The park was previously referred to as Kabalega National park named after Kabalega the Omukama of Bunyoro Kingdom during the end of the 19th century. Kabalega resisted colonization by the British, he was arrested and exiled by the British to the Seychelles Island. Kabalega died in 1923 in Jinja en-route to Bunyoro from the exile, after the downfall of Idi Amini and his regime name of the falls and the park was reverted back to Murchison Falls.

Murchison Falls is the name that was given to the point at which the world’s longest river, River Nile is channeled through a narrow gorge within the Rift Valley descending almost 50 meters below.

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is located in the North western region of Uganda in Masindi district, the park is accessible from Kampala City – the capital city of Uganda where most safaris start from. From Kampala, it is a full day’s drive though Masindi via Kichumbanyabo gate and 5 hours of drive connecting to Paraa.

Murchison Falls national park can also be reached passing through Budongo Forest and along the way you will enjoy spectacular views cross Lake Albert from the Rift Valley escarpment above Butiaba. From the North, via Choobe Gate near Karuma Falls and Tangi Gate Pakwach 25 kilometers to Paara Safari Lodge, if you are planning to get to Murchison Falls National Park by road, a 4 WD is recommended.

By air, there scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi airstrip to Bugungu and Pakuba Airstrips serving the park.

Back To Top