Ernest Hemingway Crashes in Airplane at Murchison Falls Park in Uganda

Posted by on January 31, 2019

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,”

The Indian Pilot who rescued Hemingway, wife and pilot, served them some cold Tusker Beer and took them to Butiaba along Lake Victoria which was a major hub for water – landing planes heading from Cairo to Cape Town where they met their rescue plane which was supposed to take them to Nairobi – only to crash again upon take-off.  Ernest Hemingway who was a large man had trouble escaping and used his body to open the door of the plane and he was injured badly in the process.
The night was spent at Uganda’s oldest hotel,  Masindi Hotel and the next day the Hemingway Couple was taken by  car to the  Entebbe Airport for a flight to  Nairobi where he recovered in the New Stanley Hotel where he was one of the few people to read his own obituaries in Newspapers from around the world.
Ernest Hemingway probably had a few mornings in Africa where he woke up and was not happy, those after his two air crashes in and near Murchison Falls Park.
Ernest Hemingway Crashes in Airplane at Murchison Falls and became the first drop-in visitors to Murchison Falls National Park – your journey will be a lot safer and enjoyable in the 21st Century…you don’t have to sleep in the Bush as Hemingway and company did-  pick a nice lodge.
Ermest Heming. who wrote, “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.”  One can be sure that he was not happy stranded on the shore of the River Nile in Murchison Falls Park, or for that matter after his second crash in nearby Butiaba.  It has been said that injuries sustained by Hemingway during his second crash led to severe bouts of depression and his subsequent suicide. 
Fortunately, most visitors to Murchison Falls Park do not come away depressed but elated by what they find in one of Uganda’s best Wildlife Parks.

Ernest Hemingway Crashes in Airplane at Murchison Falls – If you are interested in Uganda’s Best all around Park – please contact us and we will incorporate it into your safari with us.