Located on Lake Victoria and the banks of the White Nile, Jinja lies just 80kms east of Kampala. Jinja is historically known as the source of Africa’s longest river, the River Nile, but today most travellers better know Jinja as the adventure capital of East Africa, for the range of adventure sports and activities on offer including; white-water rafting, quad biking, jet boating and kayaking on the Nile, and the ‘Source of the Nile’ bungee jumping.
Jinja is a very scenic town with very few high-rise buildings in the city, and lots of large colonial houses built along quiet, tree-lined streets in the suburbs. Outside the city centre are forested islands, waterfalls and abundant bird life that can be explored on horseback, mountain bike or foot. The name Jinja is derived from ‘e’jjinja’ and ‘edinda’ that translate as ‘rock’ in the languages of the Baganda and the Basoga who live on either side of the White Nile; a reference to the Ripon Falls, whose rocks they used to cross the river in pre-colonial times. Jinja is considered the capital of the Kingdom of Busoga.
Visitors that are less inclined for adventure activities can explore the sights of Jinja on boat cruises that take in the historic source of the Nile, the Lake Bujagali and the 2 dams, and the numerous roosting species of water birds.
Tourism Under Threat
Most of the hydroelectric power consumed in Uganda is generated in Jinja at the Nalubaale dam that was built in 1954, and the Bujagali Power Station that was commissioned in 2007. A new hydroelectric plant is planned for the Itanda Falls, close to Bujagali. Unfortunately, each of these dams steals a little bit of the magic of the Nile, and reduces opportunities for river and adventure tourism. In 1954, the creation of Nalubaale Dam, then called Owen Falls Dam completely submerged Ripon Falls, whose majesty had inspired John Hanning Speke to proclaim the spot as the long sought after source of the Nile.
In the same fashion, the Bujagali Power Station buried the impressive Bujagali Falls that were before 2007 a starting point for local rafting trips, and replaced them with the newly formed and placid Lake Bujagali. The latest planned dam, Isimba, may be the end of the Category 6 Itanda Falls that despite the 2 dams upstream is so energetic that rafters have to walk around it for their own safety. This would mean an end to white water rafting on the Nile, as we know it.
Many factories are located in Jinja because of the proximity to the electric power stations including the biggest employer Kakira Sugar works, and Nile Breweries Limited.
Jinja’s Top Experiences
Nile White Water Rafting
What You Need To Know
Location And Getting There
Kampala is located in Eastern Uganda, on the shores of Lake Victoria, 80 kms from Kampala. Drive time from Kampala is about one and a half hours.
Climate And When To Visit
Jinja experiences temperate, tropical climate with temperatures averaging 23°C. The warmest month on average is January and the coolest, June.