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Published: October 27th 2011
The first thing we noticed when entering Uganda from Kenya was how green it is here. It is a nice surprise to see this instead of the constant dust that is thrown all over us when a breath of wind passes. As well the roads are surprisingly good and our head got a nice break from hitting our head all the time. After a hectic hitching experience from the border we arrived in Jinja which is famous for being the town at the beginning of the mighty Nile River.
To be honest, if the Nile wasn’t here there would not be too much of a reason to stop in the town since everything is based around the river, well and Lake Victoria as well. The town itself is pretty basic but compared to Kenya (it is hard not to compare since we were just left) the people don’t hassle us at all which is fantastic. Of course they will be asking us if we want a ride or go into the shop but when we say ‘no’ all they say is ‘ok, have a nice day’. In Kenya you are normally followed asking ’why not you give me money’. Also
we noticed that when we ask for a price it is the same as the locals get and once we even got offered a price that is cheaper than what the locals pay! We near fell over hearing this, no wonder Winston Churchill called this country ‘the Pearl of Africa’ because the landscape and people are just amazing.
It was a relief to be in such a nice town with polite and friendly people around. Almost nobody will walk by you without saying ‘Hi, how are you?’. Actually, it doesn’t matter if there are children or adults – everyone will be pleased to ask you how you are doing today. Yes, it is quite unusual to be around such friendly people but it is really nice to hear and you feel warm welcome to the town and their culture. They will make sure that you’ll have a great time in Jinja.
We stayed in an amazing spot a little outside the town center in real nature. You’ll fell to sleep when the night animals are making noise and wake up when the rooster begins the day (6.30am). The rooster is like an alarm clock and you won’t be
able to sleep longer. Every morning and evening is nice to take a walk in the bushes by Lake Victoria. Only problem is the mosquitoes and big risk for malaria as well. The sunsets and sunrises are adorable and you cannot get enough. It has happened that we woke up in middle of night of the storm, lightning and the roof of house was shaking. It was a powerful storms but this is a part of Uganda’s weather since it is rain season now. Often it rains in the night and the days are really humid and absolute hot (for us but not for Ugandans of course).
It was great to take a boda-boda (motorcycle) to the town every morning and back in the evening. The view of Lake Victoria, The River Nile and Jinja’s landscape is just amazing. Maybe it isn’t the safest trip on boda-boda but experience rich for sure… it is quite adventure to go through the muddy roads and you make your ride more adventure if you have a heavy backpack on you.
So the source of the Nile, well when we first had a glimpse when driving over the bridge we were quite
disappointed with the site. It has of course been dammed and the natural appeal of the place was lost out the window right then and there. It was also supposed to be one of the best places in the world to do white water rafting with very difficult rapids but we didn’t bother to check this out since we heard that once the dams were built it just was not the same as before.
We went and had a look at the location for where the Nile River begins from Lake Victoria and we were a little confused by this. Of course with all things in Africa we need to pay to see such things so we went through the gate with a massive sign saying ‘The Source of the Nile’, paid our fee and continued on. Once at the river level we were approached by several guys in boats saying ‘come do a boat trip to see the source of the Nile’. We asked how much and they say 50 bucks each. We were like you got to be kidding when we paid ten minutes before to see the bloody river. We have seen this many times all
ready walking over the bridges to our hosts place. Well in the end we found out that the boat guys there is a sham but making a good deal of money out of it. Five tourists jumped in for a thirty minute boat cruise around the river, 350 bucks for 30 minutes work in is a LOT of money.
But with the Nile and Lake Victoria comes great fish and we had several fantastic fried fish dishes at the ridiculous low price of 2-3 dollars. All the food here seems pretty cheap and maybe a little cheaper than in Kenya for the fellow backpackers. Jinja is the second biggest city in Uganda but this town is quite small compared other towns in East Africa. It is a pleasant stop to unwind and have a glimpse of the Nile River with all the fisherman going about their daily life. We now are on the road to the capital city of Uganda – Kampala.
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