Jinja is Uganda’s journey capital, the place you may raft the supply of the Nile, quad bike and bungee leap

Angelena Iglesia

“Practically each exercise is in Jinja,” Mark Megarry, basic supervisor of two Buddies Guesthouse, a number of streets away from the Nile, tells i. “Tourism has been larger right here in comparison with different areas.”

On the shores of Lake Victoria, a two-hour drive from Kampala and three hours from Entebbe Airport, Jinja is Uganda’s second-biggest metropolis – as soon as the nation’s industrial heartland, and extra lately its journey capital.

Actions embrace the one bungee leap base in Uganda, quad biking, horse driving and mountain biking. Nonetheless, the most important draw for vacationers is the supply of the Nile. Water-based actions on what’s considered the world’s longest river – whitewater rafting, tubing, and river cruises – are plentiful and cement Jinja’s popularity.

Lately, the Ugandan Tourism Board and Jinja Metropolis Authority introduced a plan to develop Jinja as an japanese “gateway tourism metropolis”. Funding has been earmarked for potential tourism websites, and growing accessibility to them.

Simply because the nation was reopening to vacationers following the pandemic, an outbreak of Ebola was confirmed in September 2022, spreading to Jinja two months later. On 11 January 2023, Uganda declared the outbreak over.

Jinja is Uganda’s journey capital, the place you may raft the supply of the Nile, quad bike and bungee leap
Rafting on the Nile close to Jinja (Picture: Kiira Rafting LTD)

Jinja was awarded metropolis standing in 2020, a part of a authorities plan to advertise regional improvement and construct on its adventurous enchantment. And but flick by tourism brochures on Uganda, and also you hardly ever see it among the many safaris and gorilla-trekking expeditions.

“Jinja is near the Nile, there are many actions and you may stroll round as a result of the streets are chilled” says Godfrey Ntalo, proprietor of native firm Kiira Rafting. Whereas travelling round Jinja by boda boda bike taxi, vacationers will immediately discover the laid-back environment.

“Past the low-rise metropolis and scenic panoromas of the Nile – whether or not seen from the official supply viewpoint or throughout a dinner cruise – the open terrains that encompass Jinja are additionally completely suited to quad biking.

Extra on Journey Journey

Nonetheless, the burgeoning vacationer business took successful a decade in the past with the development of a hydroelectric dam at Bujagali Falls, 10km downriver from Jinja. Its inauguration moved whitewater rafting, one of many city’s hottest actions, away from the journey capital. Guests as an alternative primarily based themselves nearer to the falls as rafting firms arrange camp round them.

“Tourism has dropped considerably since rafting moved away – there was 5 rafting firms and now we’re down to a few,” Mark Megarry tells i.

“We used to have the ability to boast about Bujagali Falls, as travellers would go to them throughout their go to to Jinja. However the building of the dam meant that the extent of tourism deteriorated,” says Harriet Williams, gross sales supervisor at native quadbike safari firm All Terrain Adventures.

“The dam had some optimistic implications for the town although – companies diversified. We noticed the introduction of most of the actions that at the moment are accessible nearer the town as we speak.”

Bungee jumping over the Nile at Jinja (Photo: Kenneth Njihia/Bungee Uganda)
Bungee leaping over the Nile at Jinja (Picture: Kenneth Njihia/Bungee Uganda)

Amongst these are quad biking journeys, horse driving, birdwatching, dousing your self in river water on the Bungee Uganda centre, and visiting the supply of the Nile itself, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“Uganda hasn’t promoted tourism in Jinja for a very long time,” says Mr Megarry. “The Nile is likely one of the largest and best-known sights in Uganda, but it isn’t marketed wherever,” he says.

As with most vacationer locations, Jinja suffered throughout the pandemic drop-off. “Costs had been lowered since you couldn’t run a full charge. With fewer shoppers, it grew to become exhausting to pay employees,” Harriet Williams explains.

A two-year 7pm curfew – which has since been lifted – additionally compelled many bars and leisure websites to shut. It’s hoped that funding will encourage companies to return.

Quad biking near Jinja (Photo: All Terrain Adventures)
Quad biking close to Jinja (Picture: All Terrain Adventures)

Ms Williams is optimistic: “There shall be higher infrastructure, employment alternatives and income will improve. Individuals will even be higher paid. As locals, we are going to embrace this improvement as a result of there are a lot of benefits for us.”

Nonetheless, others are extra cynical. Rob Davies, proprietor of Bungee Uganda and All Terrain Adventures tells i, “There ought to be a possibility for everybody if the federal government delivers what has been promised. It’s normally right down to us who function the businesses to do extra.”

The town is at a crossroads, however vacationers who select to comply with an adventurous path gained’t fail to be impressed by the thrills and views that Jinja delivers.

For extra, see exploreuganda.com

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