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Murchison Falls (Devil’s Cauldron) In Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is the most geographical feature of Murchison Falls National Park. The Nile bisects the park for about 100 kilometers. And, it flows in the northwest then the southwest direction of Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert.

Undoubtedly, River Nile is one of the natural wonders of Africa and it is famous as the longest river. Surely, it is having its source beginning at Lake Victoria in Jinja in Uganda.

The Nile is approximately 6,650 km long and its drainage basin covers 11 countries. It is because of its fascinating history that many people visit Uganda.

Many tourist activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, and Kayaking are done on the River Nile. However, in Murchison Falls National Park the perfect way to get a closer feel of the great Nile is by joining a the falls boat cruise. This cruise takes you to the bottom of Murchison Falls.

And, the Murchison falls boat cruise has been the most popular safari activity in Murchison Falls National Park. This is because Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother made the inaugural voyage in a spanking new boat back in 1959.

As you cruise on the Nile to the bottom of the falls, you will see hundreds of Hippos leaning on each other’s backs. Besides Hippos, this is where the highest concentration of Nile Crocodiles are found in Africa.

Other animals spotted are small herds of Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, Elephants, Waterbucks, and Bushbucks.

Additionally, birdlife is also prolific here and key species include;

  • African Fish Eagle
  • Goliath Heron
  • Saddle-Billed Stork
  • African Jacana
  • Pied And Malachite Kingfishers
  • African Skimmer
  • Piapiac
  • Rock Pratincole
  • Black-Headed Gonolek
  • Black-Winged Red Bishop
  • Yellow-Mantled Widow Bird
  • Yellow-Backed Weaver, and
  • Several Migrant Waders

The Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls is the most powerful waterfall in the World. Additionally, it is the most spectacular thing to happen to the world’s longest river en route from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea.

It is not only the most visited spot in Uganda but in the entire African continent for those on Uganda safaris.

Here in Murchison falls park, you can hear, see, and feel the power of nature as the historic River Nile. Gallons of water squeeze into a narrow gorge 6 meters wide, dropping down 45 meters to the rift valley escarpment in the devil’s cauldron. And it then continues its journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

History Of Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls is first alluded to in the writings of John Hannington Speke. Upon visiting Karuma Falls to the east in 1862, he was told that a few other waterfalls lay downriver. ‘Mostly of minor importance’ but ‘one within ear sound was the Murchison Falls.

Two years later, partially to fulfill the promise they had made to Speke, Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker visited. They became the first Europeans to explore the stretch of the river between Lake Albert and Karuma Falls.

As they were paddling about 30 kilometers east of the estuary, Samuel Baker wrote:

This is what he wrote;

We could distinctly hear the roar of water (and) upon rounding the corner a magnificent site burst upon us.

On either side of the river were beautifully wooded cliffs rising abruptly to a height of about 300 feet (100m).  Rocks were jutting out from the intensely green foliage, and rushing through a gap that cleft exactly before us.

The river contracted from a grand stream, was pent up in a passage of scarcely 50 yards (46m) in width; roaring furiously through the rock-bound pass, it plunged in one leap of about 120 feet (36m) perpendicular into the large abyss below.

The fall of water was snow-white, which has a superb effect as it contrasted with the dark cliffs that walled the water. And, the graceful palms of the tropics and wild plantation perfected the beauty of the view.

This was the greatest waterfall of the Nile, and in honor of the distinguished president of the Royal Geographic Society, “I named it the Murchison Falls.” It is the most important object throughout the entire course of the river.

What Was The Former Name Of Murchison Falls?

The falls later lent 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. This was after the Omukama (King) Kabalega of Bunyoro, although this was never legally promulgated.

The name reverted to Murchison Falls following the downfall of Amin.  It is still sometimes referred to as Kabalega Falls.

Winston Churchill took the hike to the bottom of the falls in 1907 on his African Journey. He was also highly impressed by the power of nature unleashed here.

And, Ernest Hemingway in 1954 crash-landed here after his plane became entangled in old electrical wires at the top of the falls. Lastly, Humphrey Bogart and Kathrine Hepburn spend some time in the area making “The African Queen” film.

In August 2019, Uganda rejected a hydropower project by South Africa’s Bonang Power and Energy to preserve the falls.

How Can I See Murchison Falls?

When on your Murchison falls safari it is very possible to see the spectacular Murchison falls with clear views. There are 3 ways to enjoy the spectacular views of the waterfalls and these are;

  1. Murchison falls boat cruise
  2. Murchison falls hike
  3. Top of the falls viewpoint

Murchison Falls Boat Cruise | Boat Cruise To The Bottom Of The Falls

Murchison falls boat cruise is one of the notable safari activities that shouldn’t be missed by any traveler on a Uganda safari. This epic voyage takes you to the bottom of Murchison falls giving you wonderful views of the falls.

It is a 2-3 hours cruise sailing a total distance of 17km starting from Paraa Jetty giving you sightings of Uganda wildlife. It gives you sightings of bird species and animals that come to the shores to bathe and refresh like Elephants, Buffaloes, and antelope species.

The cruise to the bottom of the falls is done in the morning (9 am) and afternoon (3 pm). After the wonderful cruise, it docks on a small bay just a hundred meters away from the crashing waterfalls. This is a great chance for you to take pictures and see the mighty waterfalls in full view.

Boat Cruise Fee/Cost

Visitor CategoryFees (Per Person)
Foreign non-residentUS$30
Foreign residentUS$25
East African citizenUGX30,000

Murchison Falls Hike

Murchison falls hike is a spectacular memorable experience that brings you closer to the natural wonder of Murchison falls. The wonderful hike is undoubtedly rewarding with its views of primates and Uganda birds.

The hiking trail is made up of cemented steps. It is a 45-minute hike starting from Bakers point after leaving the Murchison Falls boat cruise. Visitors can enjoy this short journey in the morning and afternoon.

It gives you views of the Uhuru falls which are not regularly seen by anyone on safaris in Uganda.

During this hike, you get the clear sound of the thunderous roar of Murchison Falls as well as see the famous rainbow.

Hike Fees/Cost

Visitor categoryFees(per person)
Foreign non-residentUS$15
Foreign residentUS$10
East African citizenUGX10,000

Top Of The Falls View Point

The great Murchison Falls is a stunning sight while on a boat cruise. However, for sheer sensory overload, be sure to tour this spectacular southern bank. It is north of Paraa road, about 500 meters past Sambiya River Lodge.

From a car park, a short footpath leads downhill to the waterfall’s head and a fenced viewpoint. And, this is where you can truly appreciate the astonishing power of the River Nile. The Nile squeezes through the narrow gap in the escarpment, with a vociferous roar.

A footpath from this main viewpoint leads to Baker’s viewpoint on a ridge looking directly to the Murchison Falls. Additionally, it as well gives you views of the broader Uhuru Falls about 100 meters to the north.

According to history, Uhuru Falls was a seasonal feature until the great floods of 1962. Since then it has been more constant, but it is still subject to dramatic variation in Volume.

Furthermore, there is much wildlife in the vicinity of the falls. The bat cliff immediately south of the main waterfall is a good place to spot raptors and swallows. Anubis Baboons and Black-and-Colobus Monkeys can also be spotted in the vicinity.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Murchison Falls?

Best Time Of The Day To Visit The Falls

The ultimate Murchison Falls is visited at any time of the day. However, Murchison falls boat cruise voyages twice a day and that is in the morning and afternoon. This is the scheduled time for the cruises though private boat cruises can be arranged and sail at any time.

Also, wildlife viewing is best during this time as animals are most active. Uganda animals and birds are spotted along the river shores bathing and refreshing.

Best Time/Season Of The Year To The Falls

However, the best season or time of the year to visit Murchison falls is the dry season. During this time of the year, the water levels are low making sailing easy, and getting clear views of the falls is wonderful and epic.

The Murchison falls hike trails are dry leading to successful hikes and the beautiful rainbow is present as it is shining.

Dry months are from December to February and from June to August. Little or less rainfall is received during this time.

Why Visit Murchison Falls? | What Is Unique About Murchison Falls

Indeed, the thriving Murchison Falls is a wonderful adventurous scenery while on your safari in Uganda in Murchison falls park.

You get the best chances to see river Nile bisecting in an 8-meter gorge escarpment dropping 45m into the devil’s cauldron. And, this force forms the strongest waterfalls (Murchison Falls) as it emits 300 cubic meters per second.

Also, the Murchison falls boat cruise will give you sightings of various animals like Hippos and Crocodiles, Elephants, Elephants, and Antelope species. Additionally, Uganda birds are spotted like the Red-throated Bee-eater on the Nyamusika cliff.

For those on safari tours in Uganda, Murchison Falls is the strongest waterfall in the world and should not be missed to see. A trip to Murchison falls will leave you wondering more about how the Nile passes in an 8-meter gorge to form the falls.

Doing Murchison Falls safaris is a great idea for seeing the falls and it gives you other views of wildlife while on the boat cruise.

Let us help you meet and experience the strongest waterfalls in the world when we arrange for your safari activities that you will enjoy.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Murchison Falls

  • Where Is Murchison Falls Located In Uganda?

Murchison Falls is located northwest of Kampala in Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison falls coordinates are 2°16′41.52″N 31°41′7.08″E. It is one of the most epic tourist attractions in the park and has the world’s strongest waterfalls.

It is about 305 km from Kampala which is about a 3-4 hour drive. Fort Portal is 209 km and a 2-3 hour drive away from Murchison Falls.

  • Is Murchison Falls The Most Powerful Waterfall In The World?

Murchison Falls is indeed the most powerful waterfall in the world. They are formed when River Nile squeezes into an 8-meter gorge escarpment dropping 45 meters into the devil’s cauldron.

One can access the waterfalls when he boards a Murchison falls boat cruise, hike to the top of the falls, or by car along the Tebito track.

  • Why Is It Called Murchison Falls?

The falls were named “Murchison Falls” by Samuel Baker who visited the epic falls with his wife Florence Baker in 1863. He named them after the geologist Roderick Murchison, then the president of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

John Speke and James Grant were the first Europeans to visit Murchison Falls National Park in 1862.

  • What Was The Former Name Of Murchison Falls?

Murchison Falls was known as “Kabalega Falls.” During the reign of Idi Amin, he changed the waterfalls’ name to Kabalega falls after the Omukama Kabalega who was the king of Bunyoro.

However, this name was never legally promulgated so it was changed to Murchison after his downfall though a few people still call it Kabalega.

  • What River Is Murchison Falls On?

Murchison Falls is on the lower Victoria Nile in Northwestern Uganda 32km east of Lake Albert. The Nile bisects Murchison Falls National Park passing through an 8-meter gorge dropping 45 meters and forming the Murchison falls.

Unquestionably, this means that Murchison Falls is at a height of 45 meters.

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