Each year thousands of visitors flock to Murchison Falls National Park– almost all come to view the most powerful waterfall in the world – you can hike up the side of the falls and the feel the trembling earth and be refreshed by the spray of the River Nile.
Few realize or know that Ernest Hemingway and his wife flew here to see the falls and the abundant wildlife that was found here during those days.
They, however, had one of the few mishaps in the history of the falls – their pilot Roy Marsh crashed the plane when they flew over the falls and hit an old telegraph wire – most people – even flying into Murchison Falls Park have no such experience today – Ernest Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary Welch did and became the first drop-in visitors to Murchison Falls resulting in Mary Welch having two broken ribs.
The Pilot Roy Marsh made Mayday calls from the radio of the crashed Cessna Aircraft while around them were Elephants in great number, below them hippos and crocodiles and no provisions but a few apples, some Carlsberg Beers and a bottle of Scotch.
They build some fires to keep the Elephants, hippos that graze at night and other wild animals at bay and fortunately, that did work for them.
Here are Ernest Hemingway’s own words about the rescue. “During the course of this safari, we had many times seen mirages when the sun got high, and at the sight of this launch. I thought first that I much check my eyesight. I called Miss Mary and told her that a launch was coming up the river.”
Most interestingly the boat SS Murchison was also a movie star in her own right causing Hemingway to write “It was a very beautiful launch, fairly old-fashioned in lines, and we later found that it was the vessel which had been used in the motion picture called The African Queen, which starred two intrepid characters called Katharine Hepburn, who has my great admiration, and Humphrey Bogart, whom I have never yet seen in real life,”