Coming from Lake Albert, we were driving on a perfect tar road, until the last few kilometres to our camp near the Nile became a challenge. When we reached the first campsite (Yebo Campsite) without getting stuck, we were relieved, not wanting to go any further. Luckily, we were assured, that the next part in direction of the national park would be no problem.
The next morning we reached the park without a problem. We paid $161,- for 24h including our car and camping at a public camp site just north of the bridge over the Nile. A local had recommended, to go first to the “Top of the Falls” and then on a cruise up the river.
At Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 m wide, and tumbles 43 m, before flowing westward into Lake Albert. Sir Samuel and Florence Baker were the first Europeans who definitely sighted the falls and named them after Roderick Murchison, the President of the Royal Geographical Society.
After hiking to all the lookouts around the falls ($15,- pp extra to do that), we returned to the bridge over the Nile and boarded the African Queen, which took us up the river to the falls again. ($32,- pp for the cruise)
Our captain assured us, that a swim in the river would not last longer than 10 minutes, then one of these nice fellows would have drowned you.
Just 300 metres from the falls, Ernest Hemingway and his wife had survived a crash landing in the bush after circling over the falls. They spent the night next to the plane, before they were rescued the next day by a tourist boat driving up to the falls .
After 3.5 hours, we returned to our car, and used the last hours of that day to go on a game drive through the park.
We used all the time we had to drive around, and spotted a lot of animals in the area north of the Nile. We spent the night at the Northern Bank Campsite, which had a long drop toilet and views of the Nile. During the night, it had rained a lot and we were happy we made it out to the main road over a very muddy track. Another game drive on dirt tracks was no option, so we drove the tar road to the northern gate at Pakwach and back again. We were fascinated by the landscape, which reminded us of a golf course dotted with palm trees. It was the first time, we saw an area full of palm trees and we observed the elephants enjoying the big orange fruits of these palms.
Murchison Falls NP was for sure worth the visit and all the fees. We had a great time around the falls and on the river, but also the game drive was fantastic and we would have extended our visit for another day, if the weather would have cooperated.
We left the park in direction to Masindi, which was a beautiful drive, just that we didn’t spot animals on the southern side of the Nile. In Masindi, we went to a very historic hotel, which offers camping on their park-like grounds.
Sir Samuel and Florence Baker visited Masindi, from April 1872 to June 1873. The Baker expedition was forced to withdraw because of the hostility of Kabalega, the King of Bunyoro. In the 1910s, the White Fathers founded a mission in Masindi.
Masindi Hotel, built in 1923, is the oldest hotel in the country. Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart including the whole crew of the “The African Queen” stayed at the hotel during filming this epic movie in 1951 at Lake Albert and the Nile. Ernest Hemingway and his wife Mary Welsh came here in 1954, during their tour of Africa, after they had survived 2 plane crashes in 2 days.
We had a great time at Masindi Hotel, especially what we had learned from Rahim about the history of this place had fascinated us.