Travel 

Saturday, January 18, 2014 

Reliving Sir Samuel Bakers voyage to Murchison falls

LIKE GRAND DAD: Christopher Baker and David Baker at Murchison Falls National park


MASINDI, UGANDA – Sir Samuel Baker’s great grandsons have pledged to market Uganda’s Murchison falls national park across Europe as way to boost the tourism sector in Uganda.  

 The great grandsons Christopher Baker and David Baker were in Uganda to trace the footsteps of their great grandfather Sir Samuel Baker. The journey has been named “Bakers long  Trail”. 

Christopher Baker said: “As family we shall continue promoting the site because it has historical background. The site has got tremendous tourism attractions including the waterfalls. This  will help keep alive  the legacy of our great grandfather”   

Christopher said tracing for the trail foots steps of their great father Sir Samuel Baker has great impact on the tourism sector of Uganda because the are many Europeans interested in visiting places where the great explorer stepped. 

During their Bakers Trail in Uganda the Grandsons visited historical places in Gulu, Karuma falls and their climax venue was at the Top of Murchison falls.  

Sir Samuel Baker was the first European who discovered Lake Albert on March 14, 1864 and Murchison Falls. Muchison falls is one of the powerful waterfalls on the river Nile. 

This is the second time the great grandsons of Sir Samuel Baker are in Uganda. The first visit was in 2013 when David, aged 74, and  his daughter Melanie,  visited Masindi, Hoima, Wanseko, Butiaba, Fort Patiko in Gulu, Karuma and Murchison Falls National Park

This time round David decided to come back to Uganda with his brother Christopher Baker to plant markers at various spots along the trail. The trail is believed to have been used by his ancestor in 1864 when he named Lake Albert and the spectacular Murchison Falls. The development will culminate into the “Baker Trail” which will subsequently be promoted as a modern tourism product. 

According to the area conservation manager, Tom Okello the park is the most visited National park in Uganda after Bwindi National park but the place is not widely marketed. He said the management in collaboration with other Government Agencies have tried to market the park but more effort is needed. 

Okello said: “The Number of visitors is increasing. The park receives more local tourist during the festive seasons like Easter and Christmas. Also during the winter season Europe the number of international tourist tends to go up. We certain if we invested in marketing the park then, the parks contribution to the tourism sector will improve drastically.” 

The parks Tourism Officer Peter Mbwebwe said the park is challenged with the problem of poaching which has led to the reduction in population of wild Animals in the park.

Mbwebwe said: “Poaching is still big challenge many porches are poaching the parks animal for meat and others for trade. The most affected animals include Antelopes and Elephants. As management we are doing our level best to see that the culprits are got and prosecuted in courts of Law.” 

Uganda Wild Life Authority Business Development Manager, Masaba Stephen  challenged the Government to ensure that all the infrastructure which aid the development of Tourism sector in the country are in good condition.

“The potential to maximizes our tourism sector is being challenged by the poor infrastructures such as poor  Roads substandard  hotels and even lack of  professional tourism service providers. The Government should ensure that all roads to tourism sites are in good conditions,” he appealed  

David Baker, now 74,is a retired RAF Group Captain, who after a career in aviation is now a consultant on European Regulatory Affairs. Christopher  Baker is the Director of Mechanical Engineering at Carl Zeiss in Dublin CA. He spent four years in Africa during his late twenties. He designed and built the equipment for a start-up iron and steel foundry in Zimbabwe.

Murchison Falls National Park measures approximately 3,840 square kilometres.

Together with the adjacent Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and the Karuma Wildlife Reserve, the park is part of the 5,308 square kilometres Murchison Falls Conservation Area. 

The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile from east to west for a distance of about 115 kilometres. The park is the location of the famous Murchison Falls, where the waters of the majestic Nile River squeeze through a narrow gorge, only 7 metres wide, before plunging 43 metres below. Also in the park, adjacent to the Masindi-Gulu Highway, are the Karuma Falls, the location of the 600 MW Karuma Power Station,  , currently under construction and expected to come online sometime around 2018.

In Murchison there are four of the “big five”. Buffalos, elephants, lions and leopards.

By Samuel Nabwiiso, Saturday, January 18th, 2014