Jinja, Source of the Nile and places to visit in Uganda
Where is Jinja in Uganda and how we can mark the top places to visit there? It was a starting question to me when I included this place in my Uganda Itinerary. So, Jinja is a famous city in Uganda and home to the historic Source of the Nile River. It is the fourth biggest town in Uganda that lies 80km east of Kampala. Nowadays it is the adrenaline capital of East Africa.
Although Uganda is a land-locked country with no access to a shoreline. Even then you can find the lake Bunyony and the Ssesse Islands to get a touch of good beaches. So, Jinja is not less than the previous two places and is one of the top places to visit and relax at a lakeside resort in Uganda. About 50% of the population of Jinja town are migrants from different parts of Uganda, or countries like India, Pakistan, Somalia, and Europe.
How to get to Jinja?
Jinja is well connected with other regions of Uganda. You can reach Jinja from Kampala in two hours. It lies about 80km from Kampala. The road is used for two-way traffic, so, mostly it leads to a delay in your arrival. You can take a bus from Buganda Bus Park or Arura park beside Kampala Road. One side fare is 10000USh($3). However, a VIP option of Pineapple express is also present. That will lift you from your hostels from Kampala/Entebbe and will drop you at your required place in Jinja. In this case, the price will be 10$ per person. Jinja bus station and Taxi stand that lies beside Jinja Central Market is the best place to get transport to other cities of Uganda.
You can also visit Jinja while approaching from Kenya side. In this way, the distance from Busia is 120km and can be covered within 2 and a half hours. I used this option while my overland tour from Kenya to Uganda by Bus and get off in Jinja before my next journey to Kampala.
How to Get Around to Visit Places in Jinja Uganda?
The town of Jinja is a compact and walkable place. Hence you can get around to visit most of the tourist places on foot in Jinja Uganda. If you want to go to a far-off place then Boda-Bodas is a good and economical option. You can expect to pay a fare of 1000USH to 3000USH(less than $1). Furthermore, if you want to visit Buja Gali then you expect to pay about 5000USH(1.5$)
Places to stay in Jinja Uganda?
In the city center, you can stay in Jinja Base Camp or in Casa Mia Baliidha which has very good review scores. On the riverside best options are camps in Bujagali and similar options. I stayed in Jinja Base Camp that I booked by Booking.com. It was a good budget option that met my expectation and was a good value for the cost. It has a small pool and a nice dining option.
Places to visit in Jinja Uganda
I reached early in the morning Jinja. After checking into my hostel and taking a few hours’ rest, I was ready to go into the town. First of all, I went to forex to exchange money near the central market. Then I took a Boda Bodas to reach the Source of The Nile.
Source of the Nile River in Jinja
To visit the source of the Nile River is the second most top attraction among the places to visit in Jinja, Uganda. The first one is Mountain Gorilla trekking in Bwindi. Till the end of the 19th century, it was believed that Jinja was the actual source of the Nile. However, then certain other claims were also added to the list of claims. So, now we can say, it is among one of the multiple sources of the Nile River. There is an entrance fee of 30000 USH($9). After getting your entry you walk past numerous gift shops and reach the river. You can read the history of the land on your way.
From Jinja central, you can take a Boda Bodas at 3000USH($1). It is about 5km from Jinja Central. If you want to take a closer look then you can get a boat for 25$ for two hours. On the western side of the source of the Nile river, you can visit The Speke Monument too. Speke monument is dedicated to John Hanning Speke who discovered the source of the Nile very the first time in 1856.
Pay Tribute to Mahatma Ghandhi’S Monument
In the Source of the Nile Park, you can visit and pay tribute to the Memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. At this place, the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were poured into the Nile River by his wish. As, before his death, Mahatma Gandhi wished to have his ashes poured on the great Nile river. Moreover, there is a statue of Gandhi was also constructed close to the source of the Nile river. So, after visiting the source of the Nile, tourists usually stop to take photos at the monument
Take a Rafting tour in White Nile
The first and the foremost activity in Jinja is to take a rafting tour in the waters of the White Nile. Due to extreme water adventures, Jinja is known as the Adrenaline capital of Africa. So, rafting is a prime activity in Jinja. It is not less than the Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda. Besides, you can find the world’s best commercial rafting here in Jinja. Although you need a steel heart to do this adventure and absorb the thrill that is related to this activity. However, there are available classes from grade 1 to grade 5 for the level of adventure you want to choose. The offer price for a half-day/full-day rafting tour is $125/140$.
Experience a Sunset Cruise in Nile River
You must enrich your evening here with a sunset cruise on the mystical Nile River. Sunset cruises depart from Jinja and Bujagali every night. It lasts for two hours and you have to pay about 25/40$ per person. The cost includes the snacks in it.
MAke a Purchase from Jinja Central Market
You can buy some authentic Ugandan handicrafts from Central Market Jinja. By accommodating several thousand vendors it is one of the biggest central markets of Uganda under a roof. From this place, you can find different varieties of spices, fresh fruits, clothes, fashion design, and art & crafts. It is a double story market and you can get a good overview of the market from the second floor. In the market remember to bargain before purchasing any items. It connects with the main street of Jinja for its northwest side.
Walk through Historic MAin Street of OLd Town of Jinja
Main Street Jinja offers a historic and pleasant walk in the center of Jinja. While your pleasant walk, you can take a cup of coffee from source café or spice café. These are small colonial-type cafés on the Main Street of Jinja. Here you will find many local persons to have a chit-chat. Besides you can find many architectural buildings on this road to admire the mixture of Ugandan, Indian, and colonial art.
Relax at Buja Gali
Buja Gali is a small village about 8km towards the north of Jinja. It is the place to relax and to do adrenaline activities. You can take a Boda oda for 5000 USH($1.5) to reach there. Alternatively, you can take a matatu for 1000USh from the main bridge to reach there. You can find many hotels beside the Nile river to get a relaxed experience beside Nile river.
OTher Places to visit for extended stay in Uganda
After visiting Jinja, you can add a few extended options to the list of places to visit in your Uganda tour. Probably, you will come to Jinja after visiting Kampala and Entebbe. So, you can add the west of Uganda including Bwindi National park, Queen Elizbeth National park, and Lake Bunonyi. Moreover, this route is very feasible if you come or go to overland Rwanda. Optionally, you can extend your visit toward the east of Uganda while adding Elgon mountain as well as Sipi falls. Another option is to add the Ugandan North Side.