Why is it called Murchison Falls National Park?


Why is it called Murchison Falls National Park: Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) is a national park in Uganda and is managed by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. It is located in the North-western part of Uganda, spreading inland from the shores of Lake Albert, around the Victoria Nile, up to the Karuma Falls.

Together with the adjacent 748 square kilometers of Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the 720 square kilometers of Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA).


The park straddles the Ugandan districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo, and Masindi. The driving distance from Masindi, the nearest large town, to the Kibanda area of the national park is about 72 kilometers. This area is about 283 kilometers by road, North-west of Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda.

How the national park got its name

The explorers John Speke and James Grant were the first Europeans to visit the present day Murchison Falls National Park in 1862. However, there was more thorough exploration by Samuel and Florence Baker in 1863/4. Baker named the falls, Murchison Falls after the geologist Roderick Murchison, the president of the Royal Geographical Society by then.

A brief history about the national park

Between 1907 and 1912, there was evacuation of the inhabitants of an area of about 13,000 square kilometers due to sleeping sickness spread by tsetse flies. In 1910, there was formation of Bunyoro Game Reserve South of the River Nile. That area roughly corresponds to the part of the park that is in the districts of Buliisa, Masindi, and Kiryandongo. In 1928, the boundaries were extended North of the river into the modern-day Nwoya District.

In 1952, the British administration established the National Parks Act of Uganda. The area described above became Murchison Falls National Park.

MFNP is Uganda’s largest national park. It measures approximately 3,893 square kilometers. Victoria Nile bisects the park from East to West for a distance of about 115 kilometers.

The park is the location of the Murchison Falls, where the waters of the Nile flow through a narrow gorge only 7 metres (23 ft) wide before plunging 43 metres below.

Also in the park, adjacent to the Masindi-Gulu Highway, are the Karuma Falls, the location of the 600 megawatt Karuma Power Station, Uganda’s largest power station.

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls, also known as Kabalega Falls, is a waterfall between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the Victoria Nile in Uganda. At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 m (23 ft) wide, and tumbles 43 m (141 ft), before flowing Westward into Lake Albert. The outlet of Lake Victoria sends around 300 cubic meters per second of water over the falls, squeezed into a gorge less than 10 m wide.

History about Murchison Falls

Some historians believe that a party of Roman legionaries dispatched by Nero may have reached the Murchison Falls in 61 AD, but there is major controversy about the feasibility of what would have been a very difficult achievement.

Samuel Baker and Florence Baker were the first Europeans who definitely sighted them. Baker named them after Roderick Murchison, the President of the Royal Geographical Society. The falls lend their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park.

During the regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s, the name was changed to Kabalega Falls, after the Omukama (King) Kabalega of Bunyoro, although this was temporary. The name reverted to Murchison Falls following the downfall of Amin. However, there are times when people refer to it as Kabalega Falls.

Ernest Hemingway crashed a plane just downriver from Murchison Falls in 1954.

In August 2019, Uganda rejected a hydro power project by South Africa’s Bonang Power and Energy in order to preserve the Falls, one of the country’s most lucrative tourism sites.


If you are interested in booking a safari to Murchison Falls National Park, feel free to contact your most trusted tour operator, Pamoja Tours and Travel.


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