Nestled between L. Victoria and R. Nile in the Eastern part of Uganda, Jinja town mirrors both the old and new with its blend of ancient and modern architecture. Jinja was established in 1907 as a British Administrative Center and today, it’s the second-largest town in the country after the capital city- Kampala.
It’s popularly referred to as the “adventure capital of East Africa” for its many adrenaline-pumping activities. And these activities are the main draw for both the locals and foreigners who have a desire for adventure. Or who need a change from the pleasure of visiting the national parks and partying in Kampala.
How To Spend A Perfect Day In Jinja, Uganda
To enjoy all the activities on offer in the city and also see all the tourist attractions, you need to spend more than one day. But if you lack the time to do so, here is how you can make the most of your one day in Jinja.
Breakfast At The River Banks
Enjoy a continental breakfast made up of samosas, pancakes, eggs, coffee or tea, fruits and juice along shores of the river at the place where you’ll start your rafting trip. This breakfast comes from Java House as part of your rafting trip package.
Go White Water Rafting
Suit up in the life jacket and go rafting with friends. Or if you’re traveling solo, it’s all good because you’ll easily make friends from all over the world along the way as you paddle your way through the fierce rapids on the mighty R. Nile. This is a must-do activity for all visitors to Jinja, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-timer or a skilled rafter because there are different exciting cruises to suit all abilities.
Lunch By The River
After overcoming the rapids, the company will provide you with lunch. It’s basically a sandwich lunch of either beef or chicken with veggies depending on your preference and a soft drink or beer. But go easy on the beer because you need just a little bit of it to provide liquid courage for the next activity.
Bungee Jump Over The Source Of The Mighty R. Nile
With lunch out of the way, it’s now time to go bungee jumping over the source of the might R. Nile at the Nile High Bungee, just a short distance away from the rafting place. Jump 44m down, touching the waters on your first bounce amidst cheers from the onlookers. You can jump solo or with a friend if the nerves get the best of you.
Take A Walk Along The Historic Main Street
This is the longest and oldest street in Jinja with some of the oldest buildings in the town that were built in the 1920s. Pop into some of the craft shops and art galleries, and marvel at the art pieces before buying some souvenirs.
Visit Coronation Park
It’s at this park that you can do these two main things:
See The Source Of R. Nile
Stand where John Speke – a British explorer stood to see the source of the Nile and take pictures next to the sign saying “Source of the Nile.”
Walk To The Mahatma Gandhi Shrine
Go on to take pictures at the Mahatma Gandhi Monument and also, pay homage to him if you’re inclined to do so. The monument was built as a tribute to Gandhi for his great works in spreading the message of peace in Africa and because his ashes were scattered in the Nile River from Coronation Park as per his request in 1948.
After, take a boat cruise to the Jinja Sailing Club passing by the exact place where the Nile starts flowing from Lake Victoria northwards to Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt. You can see lots of birds, monkeys and monitor lizards along the way.
Dinner At Jinja Sailing Club
Enjoy dinner on the lawn overlooking Lake Victoria. Jinja Sailing Club is an international restaurant serving foods from all over the world. You can enjoy different Indian, African and Western dishes as you watch the sun go down. The place also has a great bar that serves delicious cocktails and cold beers if you so wish to enjoy your drinks in a serene environment.
Jinja Nightlife: Best Bars To Hangout
The bustling nightlife in Jinja is only second to that of Kampala, with many revelers from Kampala usually driving there over the weekend for a different party scene. The city has lots of bars and clubs that you can go bar hopping in (if it’s your thing) or you can just pick one club to party at. So, if you prefer to wind down the night in a livelier place unlike the Jinja Sailing Club where you can take your beers while dancing and listening to DJ jams, then Spot 6 Bar and Babez bar are the places to go.
Where To Stay In Jinja
Many of the hotels in Jinja lie along the shores of Lake Victoria and in walking distance of the city center or tourist attractions. You get to choose the place of your choice depending on your budget.
For Budget travelers
You can stay at either Bilkon Hotel or Casa Mia Baliidha. Both of these hotels are quite popular for providing quality services at an affordable price. Budget hotels tend to be between $21-$25 USD per night.
For Mid-range travelers
For luxury visitors:
Much of Jinja doesn’t have 5-star hotels, there are 4-star and 3-star hotels that offer a luxurious experience. Choose from Source of the Smile Hotel & Guesthouse and Haven Eco River Lodge. Rates for both hotels start at about $90 USD.
When Best To Visit Jinja
The best time to visit Jinja is during the two dry seasons of June-August and December-February. But with Uganda having a tropical climate, you can visit it throughout the year.
How To Get To Jinja
Usually, the tour and rafting companies like Adrift Uganda and Raft Uganda provide a shuttle to transport those who want to travel from Kampala to Jinja. Alternatively, you can hire a chauffeur-driven car to take you there or go by public means using a bus.
10 Fun Facts about Jinja
- Although Jinja is found in Busoga kingdom, its name which means stone is in Luganda, a language spoken by its neighbors-the Baganda of Buganda kingdom. The name is derived from the flat rocks on both ends of the R. Nile banks where small boats could be launched to cross the Nile between Buganda and Busoga Nile before the bridge was built.
- In the whole of Uganda, Jinja is the only district with a name that starts with the letter “J”
- Jinja is the only town in Uganda that straddles a lake and river. Lake Victoria neighbors Jinja to the south and River Nile to the West.
- 50% of the population of Jinja town are migrants from different parts of Uganda, and other foreign countries like India, Pakistan, Somalia, and Europe.
- The largest lake in Africa – Lake Victoria is found in Jinja.
- Jinja is the only place in East Africa where you can go white water rafting and bungee jumping. You can also find other activities like Kayaking, Jet boarding and biking, all in this one town. No wonder it was termed as the “adventure capital of East Africa.”
- The palace of the Kyabazinga (king) of Busoga Kingdom is located in Jinja.
- Former President Idi Amin gave his last public address in Jinja in 1979 as he fled from the joint force of the Tanzanian army and the Ugandan rebels that had captured the capital, Kampala.
- Uganda’s motto “For God and My Country” was translated and copied in entirety from Busoga College Mwiri’s Lusoga motto “Kulwa Katonda n’egwanga lyaffe,” a school found in Jinja.
- Prince William is the most famous person to go white water rafting in Jinja, something he did while on his visit to Uganda in 2003.
Recommended Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Accommodation: Hotels.com and Orbitz
- Airbnb, Sign up here for a $40 credit.
- Top Lisbon Hotel Reviews: TripAdvisor
- How to Pack for 2 Weeks in Europe (in one suitcase)
- Cheap Flights to Europe with Condor Airlines
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