Less than a two hour drive from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, lies what has quickly become my favourite city in Uganda- Jinja. A true melting pot of the best of Uganda, Jinja has a little something for everyone.
1. For the adventurous ones
Jinja has become known as Uganda’s adventure capital, offering heart palpitations for all, with its wide range of activities. If an adrenalin rush is what you’re looking for, in Jinja you are literally spoilt for choice from bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip lining, quad biking in the mud or kayaking the Nile. I’ll state the obvious and say that this one is not for the faint hearted- – the wait-I-changed-my-mind negotiations strictly end at before you climb up the bungee bridge.
2. For the mellow travellers
The interesting thing about Jinja is that it was also named Uganda’s “sleepy city” in the 90’s because of how calm the city is in comparison to Kampala. For those looking for a more calm experience, I’d recommend taking an evening cruise to the source of the Nile or a quiet dinner by the water at Jinja’s favourite restaurant, Jinja Sailing Club.
3. A little bit of both?
During my last trip to Jinja, I discovered a place where time completely stands still. Located on a private island along R. Nile, Wild Waters Lodge is truly a sight to behold. With the Kalagala Falls churning at arm’s length as you enjoy a five course dinner and the serene comfort tucked within the walls of the beautiful rooms, a visit to Wild Waters is the perfect combination for the not-so-adventurous adventurer. If you do check it out, I recommend watching the sun rays kiss the water at sunrise. There is really nothing like it!
4. For the wanderers
Covered in colourful and interesting buildings, views of Lake Victoria on one end and the robust Nile on the other, Jinja is perfect for curious explorers. Get lost in the city and explore the numerous craft stalls and diverse mix of architecture.
5. For the hungry traveller (you know who you are)
Jinja is the birthplace of Uganda’s newly famous Rolex– fried eggs and vegetables rolled in a chapatti. My friends and I often joke that one hasn’t lived until they have eaten a rolex in Jinja. I recently discovered posho (cornmeal) chips in Jinja and although I won’t be recreating them at home, it’s another culinary experiment I can tick off my list. For the “careful” eaters, Jinja has a surprisingly wide range of Indian restaurants in Uganda and cosy coffee shops along its main street.
6. For the wild ones
About 20 minutes driving out of Jinja you’ll find Uganda’s large Mabira Forest. If you’re an avid bird watcher, monkey lover or nature walker, an extended stay in the forest will have you feeling like Dora the Explorer. Two days at the Mabira Rainforest Lodge, a peaceful getaway curved from wood, should be on your Uganda Bucket list. Waking up to the sound of birds chirping and monkeys swinging literally outside your window is an experience to write home about.
With that, I hope you’re ready to discover Jinja, whichever type of traveler you are.