A visit to Murchison Falls National Park is incomplete without a hike to the top of the falls using the famed Baker historical trail which offers the best viewing points for the Murchison and Uhuru (Freedom) falls.
Of late, most of the visitors have asked for their itinerary to include the hike from the bottom to the top of the falls along the steep cliffs of the river with stop overs at the famous Baker’s view rock and other sharp bends that provide a panoramic view of the river and parts of the northern bank.
From the early morning game drives towards the delta, hundreds of visitors book boat rides to the bottom of the falls and instead of a return journey on the water, prefer to disembark and do the hike, thanks to the concrete stairs and rail guards erected by UWA. The visitors are then picked by the vehicles which use the southern bank access route to pick them from the top of falls car park.
David and Christopher the great-great grandsons of the famed Victorian explorer Sir. Samuel Baker have recently added value to the top of Murchison falls trail by installing an interpretational signage detailing the expedition that led to the discovery of the spectacular falls and Lake Albert as the European explorers searched for the source of the River Nile.
In marking the 150th anniversary of the discovery which transformed Murchison Falls National Park into one of the world’s leading destination, the Baker descendants sought to retrace their ancestor’s foot steps before planting markers in different areas of Masindi, Gulu, and Fort Patiko.
Quoting from their ancestor’s dairy, the marker atop the Murchison falls describes how Sir Samuel White Baker followed the course of the Victoria Nile from Lake
Albert and later sighted a spectacle of the entire volume of the river roaring furiously through a rock bound pass, plunging in one leap of about 120 feet. He named it the Murchison falls after the President of the Royal Geographical Society.
The marker also details how Sir Baker, a British explorer, officer, engineer and writer made two expeditions to Africa and served as the Governor general of Equatorial Nile Basin (today’s South Sudan) which he established as the province of Equatoria between 1869-1873.Baker is mostly remembered as the first European to view Lake Albert which he named after the recently deceased Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria.
His second wife, Lady Florence who was saved from a slave market in central Europe joined him on his exploits of Africa and the couple is famed for their efforts to abolish salve trade in the region.
In Murchison Falls National Park, the Baker descendants were impressed by the developments on the trail by Uganda Wildlife Authority which has improved the surface with concrete stairs and rail guards making the walk from the bottom to the top of falls more user friendly. They promised to promote the trail as an additional tourism product on top of the game drives,boat ride, nature walks and birding in Uganda’s largest, oldest and most visited protected area.
David Baker says he met with Julian Monroe Fisher a renowned explorer and anthropologist in January 2013 and agreed to create trail makers to commemorate 150 years since Sir Samuel Baker trekked in Africa from lake Albert to the top of Murchison Falls.
He added that the trail is a historical one to commemorate the Europeans that came to Africa to search for the source of River Nile as well as put an end to slave trade.
Christopher Baker remarked that walking the trail to the top of the falls was one of his most memorable experiences and added that “this is the most romantic place I have visited in my life”.
Tom Okello the Conservation Area Manager promised to modernize and market the park to regain the glory of the 1960s when it used to be most visited in Africa.
Earlier, Christopher Baker enjoyed a one and half hour long boat ride to the bottom of the falls during which he marveled at schools of hippos, migratory birds, a variety of antelopes along the river banks, Nile crocodiles sun bathing and spectacular landscapes including the Nyamusika cliff .He also donated a pair of ultra modern binoculars made in Germany, to the guides of Uganda Wildlife Authority.