What to do in Jinja, has over the years gained her reputation as Uganda’s hub for fun and adventure. Found on the shores of Lake Victoria in the Eastern region of Uganda, Jinja was once a booming industrial city with the second-largest economy in Uganda.
The Owen falls dam, an electric power station found in the region was the reason most factories chose Jinja as their base. The economy of the city remained vibrant until the expulsion of the Asians in 1972 by dictator Idi Amin.
It never took long for the businesses and factories to collapse as a result of mismanagement from the inexperienced locals who had taken charge of running them.
Even after their (Asians) later return, the city never recovered its industrial glory. What remains till date is a quiet city with a few factories and a wealth of natural attractions. Numerous activities and adventures have been put in place to engage the thousands of tourists that flock Jinja throughout the year. Here is a ‘what to do in Jinja’ list for you:
Go on a town tour
Jinja town is fun to explore. There is so much to see; old colonial buildings, intriguing Hindu temples, markets with all sorts of foods and fresh fruits, crafts centers that make souvenirs from local material, the famous golf course, Mahati Magandhi monument, and several factories that make textile, stationary, plastics, beers, sugar, process tea, and mill grain. Going on a Jinja town should rank first on every tourist’s ‘what to do in Jinja’ list.
Rafting on the Nile river has become a major tourist sport in Jinja. Whitewater rafting is a full or half-day adventure depending on one’s preference. Out in their rafts and surfboards, ‘rafters’ get to choose their preferred rapids between Grade 3 and Grade 5. Whitewater rafting is an epic experience for adrenaline lovers. It is one of those things to do in Jinja for every adventurer.
An elevated platform is suspended 44metres above the Nile. With a rope tied to their ankles, jumpers start off the platform and plunge into the depths of the Nile below. The experience lasts about 2 minutes but the memory of it, a lifetime. The thrill of bungee jumping is an indescribable experience.
Visit the source of the Nile
Found in Uganda’s Jinja town is the genesis of one of the world’s longest rivers. Visiting the source of the Nile is one of those things to do in jinja when on an adventure safari.
Using a speed boat, tourists are able to sail to the point where River Nile is said to start its journey to the Mediterranean sea. They sail on downstream, exploring the length of the grand Nile.
A quad biking excursion is the best way to explore the banks of river Nile, the rural villages and splendid countryside, the forests, farmlands, nearby sugar and tea plantations. Bumpy rides along the rugged terrain and poor roads are an exerting but thrilling adventure.
Horseback riding is one adventure that should be on every tourist’s ‘what to do in Jinja’ list. A team of horses owned by an Australian expatriate is accessible to tourists for riding; along the banks of the Nile, through the villages, and hilly countryside. Riders are escorted by experienced guides. Even novices can ride.
A mountain biking excursion is an ideal adventure for the spirited naturalist. Climbing the steep terrain can be physically tasking yet so rewarding. Besides birding and sightseeing, bikers enjoy the thrill of conquering the steep and rugged hikes.
Sport fishing is one of those things to do in Jinja. Fishing is a great sport done along the Nile and Lake Victoria. The Nile perch is the most sought-after catch. Catfish, tilapia, and yellowfish are some of the common catches.
Full and half-day fishing trips are organized for both novices and experienced anglers. Common fishing techniques used are; trawling, spinning, and bait fishing. Anglers are required to release the fish back into the water except for those that die after being caught.
Visiting the falls
Visiting the several waterfalls is one of those fun activities to do in Jinja. Bujagali, Itanda, Kyabirwa, and Sezibwa are some of the falls to visit. The sight of the snow-white waters surging and tumbling over raised cliffs is breathtaking. The falls are a great location for camping, birding, and picnics.
Besides their splendid beauty, the fascinating fables and myths behind the formation of most of the falls is an adventure of its own. It is believed that the Sezibwa falls were born by a woman, and the Bujagali falls are the shrine of a potent ancestral spirit.
Visiting Mabira forest
Found in Jinja is Mabira forest, the largest natural lowland tropical forest in the Central region of Uganda. The forest is found along the Kampala-Jinja highway. It is a habitat to over 200 bird species and 5 confirmed primate species. The forest is a famous camping site for tourists.
Explore the beaches and islands on Lake Victoria
Visiting the islands is worth making a priority on every tourist’s list of what to do in Jinja. Found on the shores of Lake Victoria is several beaches, some of which are the location of hotels and other tourism developments.
Ndaiga, Samuka, Lwabitooke 1 & 2, are some of the islands found in Lake Victoria. Though not fully exploited for tourism, these islands have a potential for sport fishing, overnight camping, boat racing, and other water sports.
Day-time and sunset cruises on the Nile
Cruises on the Nile are arranged for tourists to enjoy throughout the day. Tourists are able to sail downstream at Bujagali dam and further down to the source of the Nile.
Sunset cruises are done between 5:00pm – 7:00pm. At this time, the normally orangish-brown sun is setting against the scenic backdrop of the distant hills, lush greenery, and seemingly endless Lake Victoria.
The list of what to do in Jinja goes on and on! Other adrenaline-pumping and fun activities to engage in include; tubing on the Nile, kayaking and canoeing, jetboating, ziplining in Mabira forest, golfing, and exploring the tea and sugar plantations.