So over the weekend, I travelled to Jinja on a solo trip. I have always wanted to do this actually. When I heard that the iconic Jinja Nile bridge was up for opening, I knew this was my opportunity.
Jinja has a historic significance to me. I grew up there slightly along the river banks actually. My Dad used to work in Nytil, once East Africa’s biggest textile industry before things went sour. Today, some bits of the Industry land was used to construct the Bridge. The other half of this once pride of the Nile is now almost dilapidated. I had mixed emotions visiting especially the worker’s estate I grew up in.
Besides reminiscing on the good old days, I also got time to chill at the River banks. It’s amazing what’s happening there. People are beginning to discover the value of tourism and as a result there’s a lot of resorts and hotels being developed on the River banks. This is mostly true on the western side of the river.
You can’t visit the Nile and leave the same again. You will be slept away by its grand beauty and serene atmosphere. Everything is just peaceful there. I spent a night at Tulina Riverside Treat. It’s about 15-20 Km away from the old bridge. Nothing fancy about if that’s what you are looking for. It’s ideal for those who just want a hide out or those who wish to have an adventure with white water rafting on the Nile. I was told it’s about Ugx 300,000 per person for a whole day.
Then I met an old friend who took me to Jinja sailing club. If you want to spot the real source of the Nile, it has a priceless view. You will see the intersection between L. Victoria and the R. Nile. I imagined, this is where Sir. John Speke landed from Tanzania on his voyage to “discover” the source of the Nile. You want to visit in the evening just before sundown so you don’t miss the tantalising view of sun rays hitting the Lake water. Oh it’s magnificent. And if you are really up to it, a boat ride on the gentle waters of the Lake could be your peak event of the day.
Fish is what defines the Nile. If you don’t treat yourself to a gigantic Tilapia, I really think you wasted your trip to Jinja. By the way, this Tilapia fish is now going extinct due to overfishing, so its getting more and more expensive especially in Kampala. Jinja is your only choice to have a blast for cheap.
I wrapped up my solo trip with a slow but steady drive along the Jinja Kampala highway. Mabira might now seem cliche, but it still has its shine. Driving back to Kampala in the evening isn’t much fun because of the direct sun rays hitting your windscreen. But the huge trees of Mabira forest shield you from that tormenting heat. And let’s not forget about Namawojjolo chicken. I know someone who swears never to cruise past that joint without buying that tasty salty Chicken.
Meanwhile going to Jinja, I used this other less known route through Kayunga. I mostly think that chaps working in gov’t mostly warm chairs, but when I used that Mukono-Kayunga-Jinja road, I abnegated by view! It’s fantastic except for the many unnecessary road humps. It’s longer by roughly 30 Km, perhaps that’s why most travellers shun it for the more busy Jinja-Kla route.
Now I am back to the chaotic Kampala. My Wife has not forgiven me for taking a solo treat ever since she learnt of my selfish adventures. But I have this principle that I can’t take someone someplace I have not been before. It’s just wisdom.