Jinja, Uganda – 28 & 29 July

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September 9th 2012
Published: September 9th 2012
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Jinja, Uganda – 28 & 29 July

We stopped at Kampala again on the way through to Jinja, to drop off 2 of our fellow travellers from Washington DC. Our cook Simon had to do some food shopping. I was desperate to talk to Kerrie & Adam. It was 10.00pm in Brisbane and so 8.00pm in Perth. My mobile told me I have internet access but the system didn’t work so I found a mobile phone shop and used the retail assistant’s phone to call Kerrie. We only had 10 minutes before our bus was leaving. Kerrie & Gemma answered. It was fantastic (for us) that we could also talk to Gemma, even though it was 10.00pm.

Back on the bus I decided to take out my sim card and start my mobile up again. I sent Kerrie a text and it went through so I decided to try Adam...and he answered the phone – that was fantastic!! I was satisfied that we had made contact, even though it was for such a short time. There is no public phone system in Uganda, internet is hit-and-miss so I will be getting a local mobile back in Nairobi. Travel Blogs have been impossible to send in Uganda also.

Jinja is on the East African Highway which links Mombassa to Uganda, eastern DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. The city is located at the source of the Nile, and in Uganda more famously the source of Nile Beer. This is a popular destination for backpackers for its white water rafting.

We arrived at the Nile River Explorers Resort which is about 7 kms from the city centre at 6.00pm. It has a bar that looks out over the While River Nile, great showers + hairdryer (!!), plenty of lawn, however it had rained heavily before we arrived and the red dirt was mud so you had to make sure you walked on the gravel and lawn. It didn’t take us long to have dinner, shower and settle down for a relaxing evening with the group.

The whole time we were in Jinja, it did not rain. We got our washing done and dried.

In the morning of 29 July, we decided to hire a boda boda (motorbike and driver) to take us around the town. They took us into the town centre markets, and the main street. The Jinja market is in the very centre of town, and consists of multiple acres of colourful shacks squeezed on top of each other selling everything from chicken hearts to motor parts. It was Sunday so the markets weren’t as big as they are usually, but there was plenty of produce, dried fish (a fellow was using an old paint brush to brush off the dust from the road, off the fish). In the main street we visited a cafe called Flavours – fantastic. We had the best latte and cappuccino since being in Africa. We also had a muffin. We used their spotless toilets which was also excellent! You get excited with little things like this in a country like Uganda.

The boda boda drivers then took us to the Source of the Nile. We can now say we have now visited the source of the longest river in the world. There is a small monument in the area dedicated to Ghandi. Some of his ashes were released here. It was 10000 shillings to enter, charged by Jinja Regional Council. We had our photos taken out on concrete pylons at the junction of the Nile/Lake Victoria. There were the obligatory tourist markets flanking the path on the way down to the River. A group of singers and dancers were entertaining us while we were there. They were asking for a donation for the local orphanage.

We then got the drivers to take us to the Annual Agricultural & Trades Show which we passed on the way to the Head of the Nile. We thought we should see what the locals attend. There were plenty of agricultural plants stalls, including by Uganda Prisons. There were big tractors and irrigation machinery, farm animals on display, and sideshow rides etc. We spoke to a few of the locals which was good.

The boda boda drivers then took us back to our camp. The whole morning cost us $30 for the 2 of us which was dirt-cheap. We got back in time for lunch.

Jinja is marketed as the adventure capital of Uganda, offering everything from horseback tours to quad biking to placid kayak tours. Several of our group did the white water rafting, some did quad bike trips and others did the kayaks.

Jinja is also know for its Bungee Jumping – not on my To Do list.

We wanted to do the Nile Breweries tour but it was too far away. This is the manufacturing place for the beer Nile Special – 3500 shillings. Beers are getting cheaper! Another local drink is the Waragi - a spirit, (essentially banana gin) mix with bitter lemon, tastes awesome, potent.

The evenings are beautiful, with a little bit of humidity and balminess. The moon shining on the Nile was also beautiful. We are pretty lucky. There is also a TV and big screen so we have even watched some of the Olympics which I didn’t expect. We were in the USA when the last Olympics were on.

The 2nd evening at Jinja was beautiful again. The next morning we were up at 5.30am as we were off to Eldoret which is the last night with this group – it’s been a successful Ugandan Gorilla Tour.

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