Said to be the most powerful waterfall in the world

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Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2022

Product name

Murchison Falls

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Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest, is located on the banks of the River Nile, downstream from the falls it was named after. Scenes from the iconic film, African Queen, were filmed here.

We visited both the top and bottom of the falls, said to be the most powerful in the world as every second, the equivalent of 200 bathtubs of water is forced through a gorge less than seven paces wide. The water plunges over 40 meters into a 50m radius pool.

The top of the falls were reached from a turning off the main road running through the park. This 10-minute journey was along a new road, but we found the circular car park still under construction. It will be fabulous when finished.

Visiting the top is free, but you can trek to the bottom, and presumably back up unless you get met by boat, for $15. After a few steps past a couple of monuments celebrating 50 years of National Parks in Uganda, a steep and slippery path took us to the head of the falls. An outcrop of rock, which would make an ideal photo opportunity, had apparently been accessible from the bank before Covid, but now the water has been diverted to make it inaccessible. The roar and the spray was incredible and the nearer we got, we had to be careful of both where we were walking and not getting our cameras wet. Our timing was good: we were the only visitors and there was a double rainbow.

A trip to the base of the falls, is said to be one of the park’s most popular attractions ever since the Queen Mother made the inaugural voyage in a brand-new boat in 1959. We also took a boat trip from a mooring point directly opposite where we were staying, the Paraa Safari Lodge. Our double decker boat seated 40 and we’d been advised to sit on the top at the left-hand side for the best views. Each deck had a guide who covered a safety briefing, told us we could have a Nile Special beer on the Nile and where we could ‘empty our tyres’.

We spotted hippo pods in the water, a lone crocodile, elephant, giraffe, wart hog, water buck and buffalo on the banks and in terms of birds, African darter, fish eagle and Malachite kingfisher. In the sandstone rocks were lines of holes, the nests of the red throated bee-eater.

Eventually, we moved into the middle of the River Nile, and passengers began getting restless as there was little to see and we appeared to be battling the current. Three hours later, we reached the bottom of Murchison Falls, and although there was an option of walking back up to the top, no one took on the challenge.

The falls were as impressive from the bottom as they had been from the top, and on an island we moored up to, were lots of bright yellow weaver birds and their distinctive round hanging nests.

Fortunately, the return journey with the current was much quicker but my top tip would be to go in one of the smaller boats available which will be not only quicker but get you closer to the shore.

Helen Jackson

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