Jinja: The heart of African Adventure
Debs Perry, October 3, 2011
Jinja is a small, vibrant town located in the South East of Uganda, around 50 miles from the capital, Kampala. Due to its proximity to the Nile River at the source Lake Victoria, it has became famous for its White Water, attracting kayakers and rafters from around the world. Grade 5 rafting, the 145ft Nile High Bungee and numerous kayaking opportunities have helped nurture Jinja’s reputation in the heart of Africa.
Most of the activity takes place in Bujagali, 9 miles north of Jinja. Rafting companies such as Nile River Explorers, Adrift, and Nalubale have set up base here, working alongside companies that offer kayaking courses, Love it Live it and Kayak the Nile. Land activities have also found a home here, catering for horse riding trips and mountain biking.
Safaris to the Murcheson National Park are easily arranged for impressive, rooftop excursions in your Matatu (a Ugandan minibus). Jinja also acts as a pit stop for travellers heading up to Mount Elgon (about 114 miles north east), where climbing, mountain biking and hiking all take place. The mountain biking courses have developed around Sipi where there more adventure potential for the region. This year the Sipi River Lodge is hosting the first annual Sipi Falls Bike Race in November so keep an eye out for that.
Jinja city is a hive of activity. Spectacular markets continue well into the night as the organised chaos of rush hour traffic filters by, loaded with Matatus and Boda Bodas (motorbike taxi’s). Though tourism in Jinja is increasing it has not lost its local charm. An evening on the banks of the source of the Nile, watching the sunset with the sound of background drums was a highlight amongst hustle and bustle of the City.
Many of the rafting and kayaking companies put on a free shuttle between Kampala and Jinja, usually included in the price of accommodation. Using the public transport from the Jinja main Square is another option. Note that buses won’t leave until all seats are full so if you are in a rush or have a plane to catch, the shuttles are probably a better option.
Fly to Entebbe- Kampala International (EBB) and arrange land transport to Jinja from there.