A spectacular source of high adventure, when the British explorer John Speke proclaimed the source of the River in 1862 he settled geographical puzzle that could be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians. The place reached by Speke all those years ago is the river’s sole outflow from Lake Victoria and beside it stands the town of Jinja.

Today the journey to the headwaters of the Nile is a lot more comfortable than in 1862 and thousands of visitors make their way to Jinja each year. They may be drawn by a sense of history or a fondness for geography or simply by an overall feeling of wonder at the grandness of nature.

Jinja has fine buildings dating from colonial times and many of these have been restored as hotels and restaurants. An air of adventure still persists in this place. And while some visitors are happy to enjoy a game of golf on the river bank, others relish the opportunity to put their skill and nerve to the test in the turbulent headwaters of the Nile. This can take the form of a kayak, a raft, a jet boat, a quad bike or, for the stout – hearted, even a bungee rope strapped around your ankles.

Culture and people

The Nile is of great cultural importance to the tribes who live on either side: the Baganda on the west bank and the Basoga on the eastern or Jinja side. Rituals are performed at shrines at Bujagali falls and Kalagala falls.

Jinja:

The Jinja Nile is one of Uganda’s main tourism destinations, a place for both leisure and adventure, offering a combination of high-octane activities and relaxing excursion, good hotels and restaurants, pleasant scenery and an enduring historical significance. http://www.gorillasafaristours.com/uganda-safaris.html

Bujagali

In Jinja itself, a quiet riverside town, the main attraction is a visit to Speke’s Source of the Nile. But those in search of adventure tourism should travel 7 km north Bujagali, where the pace of life is rather quicker. Tourists, backpackers and overland truckers flock to the river in their thousands each year to raft a sequence of high –grade rapids on what many regards as one of the world’s finest stretches of white water. This opportunity may be limited in future, however, as the extent of white water is reduced by a succession of hydro power dams.

In addition to rafting, there is a range of other activities on the Jinja Nile to keep the adrenalin flowing. They include Kayaking, quad biking, jet boating and a 44- metre bungee jump over the river. For those in search of more tranquil activities, the creation of Lake Bujagali behind a new hydro-power dam in 2012 has opened the way for family boat trips, fishing excursions, sun downer cruises and paddle boarding. Meanwhile, horse riding and mountain biking provide an alternative means of exploration on shore.

Nile Rapids

A series of rapids with forest islands in mid channel marks the progress of the River Nile below its outlet from Lake Victoria as it passes between high, cultivated banks.

Mabira Forest

Located between Kampala and Jinja, just hour from the capital, this tropical forest is central Uganda’s largest forest reserve, with opportunities for guided and unguided forest walks, specialist bird watching, mountain biking and Uganda’s first canopy level zip line.

Travel

Jinja is 80km east of Kampala. It takes two to three hours to get there on the congested direct route and about two hours on the quieter 120km route north of Mabira Forest. Both roads are tarmacked.

Where to stay

Jinja town has upmarket guesthouses and mid-range and budget hotels. Bujagali Falls has backpacker accommodation and a mid-range tented camp. Upriver, superior lodges overlook the rapids at Kalagala. Mabira Forest has an upmarket lodge and backpacker accommodation.

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