History of murchison falls national park
History of murchison falls national park: Murchison falls National Park is the largest and oldest national park in Uganda found in north eastern region of Uganda, the park is also known as Kabelega falls national park covering an area of 3840 square kilometers. Murchison falls national park is grouped as part of the great Murchison falls conservation area (MFCA) which consists of bungugu wildlife reserve, karuma falls and Murchison falls national park.
Murchison falls national park offers many breathtaking and memorable safari activities such as game drive, launch trip to the bottom of the falls, hiking to the top of the falls, white water rafting, bird watching and sport fishing.
During era before colonization of Uganda at the time when missionaries and explorers arrived at the coast of East Africa on Indian Ocean, explorers john Speke and James Grant visited and explored the area which is current occupied by the Murchison falls national park. John Speke with his companion James grant became to first Europeans to visit this area, in the period between 1863- 1864 the same area was again visited by another couple of European explorers that is sir Samuel baker and Florence baker, the couple thoroughly explored the area and discovered Murchison falls the greatest attractions in the area. Sir Samuel baker named the falls Murchison falls after Roderick Murchison a geologist and a then president of the ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY.
The area were Murchison falls National Park stretches through was initially occupied by three local communities that is Acholi tribal who dominated the north east lands of the park, Banyoro dominating the south region and Alur dominating the north west part of the region. In the period of 1907-1912 the area got infested by tsetse flies who cause sleeping sickness to the locals through bites, as a way of stopping the outspread of sleeping sickness people occupying an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometers were evicted from the tsetse fly infested lands.
Though the area was infested by tsetse flies it was discovered that it the area was habiting various wildlife animals and vegetation types, this lead to the creation of Bunyoro game reserve in 1910. Bunyoro game reserve stretched in the southern region of the river Nile in areas of Buliisa, kiryandongo and Masindi (currently bunyoro game reserve is part of Murchison falls national park), to conserve more wildlife which was by then threatened by poaching the boundaries of the reserve were re-demarcated in 1928 and extended to cover north region of river Nile into Gulu and present day Nwoya district. The extension of the boundaries resulted into the establishment of a recognized protected area in the names of BUNYORO-GULU GAME RESERVE.
Due tsetse fly infestation and sleeping sickness effect the area was now totally unoccupied by an human being and free of human use which facilitated the creation of protected areas with no objection and conflicts from the local native people, in 1932 a piece of this area was gazetted as budongo forest reserve. Budongo forest reserve then became the first commercial logging concession and up to date the forest is still the most vigorously studied and researched forest in the world, in the span 30 years later the boundaries of the forests have continued to expand to the current size of 825 square kilometers. The process of extending the boundaries raised conflicts between the authorities and the locals as many natives lost their land due to new and unclear boundaries.
Uganda under the administration of the British colonialists saw the establishment of the national parks act of Uganda in 1952 which was then responsible for wildlife and protected areas which were established by then. Over time Bunyoro- Gulu game reserve was successfully thriving and the population of wildlife living in the park had greatly increased due to reduced tendencies of hunting by the locals living around the reserve, the increased wildlife population resulted into upgrading of the reserve into a national park in the names of Murchison falls national park in 1952.
The newly created Murchison falls national park covers over a vast land of 3840 square kilometers and stretching through districts of Amuru, Nwoya, Buliisa, kiryandongo and Masindi. Murchison falls national become the first national park to be established in Uganda followed with Queen Elizabeth national park. Murchison falls national park has gradually become the best tourist destination in Uganda and by mid-1960 the park was ranked as the premier safari destination in East Africa as it was visited by 60,000 visitor per year.
In 1951 Murchison falls national park featured in the African queen movie most especially the area around Lake Albert and Nile which was filmed as part of the movie, during the reign of Idi Amin dada as a president of Uganda the park’s name was changed to KABALEGA FALLS NATIOAL PARK but when his regime was overthrown the falls, former name was reinstated.
How to get to Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls National Park is very easy accessible tourist destination which can be reached using different gates through different routes, the park is found in north western Uganda which is a 4-6 hours’ drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda. Murchison falls national park can be reached by both road and air means of transport, by road means of transport routes like
- Kampala via Masindi route of 280.9 kilometers
- Kampala via Hoima route of 321.5 kilometers
- Kampala via Matuga route of 288.6 kilometers
The most scenic route to use is Kampala- Hoima route and the shorter route is Kampala via Masindi route. By transport there is domestic flights which are offered by chartered air companies like Aero link form either Entebbe international airport or kajjansi airstrip to Bugungu airstrip, pakuba airstrip and Chobe airstrip.
Murchison falls National Park is accessed using different gates which are situated in various sectors of the park that is northern sector and southern sector.
Chobe gate– found in northern sector and accessed from paraa and karuma falls
Wankar gate– found in the northern sector and found near purongo
Tangi gate –located 110 kilometers from Kara Bridge
Mubako gate– accessed by crossing river Nile from karuma falls bridge
Kichumbanyobo gate– found in the southern sector of the park and accessed through kaniyo pabidi
Bugungu gate –situated 135 kilometers from Masindi town