The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) together with Jinja City Authority have concluded plans to develop Jinja as a gateway tourism city in the eastern part of Uganda. The plans are a result of a meeting held between the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Jinja City Council officials, and the private sector at the Jinja City Hall under the theme “Showcasing Tourism Potential for Jinja City.”
Acting Jinja Town Clerk John Gulooba Choli, along with UTB delegates led by UTB Chairman Daudi Migereko, Vice Chairperson Susan Muhwezi, and other participants, the stakeholder engagement meeting underlined the challenges faced by the tourism sector in the city as well as laid down the policies to diminish the barriers ahead of reviving the industry.
This came following the characterization of Entebbe-Kampala-Jinja City to identify potential Uganda tourist sites in these cities, discover tourism opportunities there, and potential investment areas to make sure that they are promoted as potential tourist destinations in Uganda.
Although the tourism sector in Jinja city and the eastern part of the country, particularly in the Busoga region, faces various difficulties such as limited government funding for tourism activities, awareness of the tourism products, and inadequate tourism infrastructure, there is an urgent need to develop a sound maintenance program for key access roads to tourism hotspots such as Bridge Street and the Source of the Nile. There is also a need to certify and assimilate the information shared by tour guides at these attractions for an exceptional tourist experience.
Jinja City is located in eastern Uganda and it takes 2 hours to travel to this city from Kampala. The town was once the leading industrial town due to the hydro-electricity dam constructed along the Nile River. The Uganda Tourism Board, under their Tourism City Development Plans, has dedicated the development of Jinja as a tourism gateway city in the financial year 2022/23.
The major tourist attractions to see on a tour in Uganda through Jinja City and the Eastern Region are;
The Source of the Nile: The Nile is the longest river in the world. It flows from Uganda, the main source, passing through South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt, and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. The source of the Nile at Jinja is one of the prime tourist destinations in Uganda. It has a fantastic view of the lake. The perfect serenity of the surroundings makes for good picture-taking and bird-watching. Visitors can use speed boats to go and see where it originates from, and it’s the discovery point of the Nile, which was turned into a park for relaxation.
Whitewater Rafting: This is probably the top activity carried out in Jinja. It involves cruising on the Nile rapids and on different islands for wonderful stopovers on green vegetation and amazing views of small primates and bird species. Grade 5 white water rafting is an exciting experience that entails navigating strong rapids, descending with protective gear, and being escorted by professional kayaks for rescue in the event of an emergency. The activity is terrifying but gives you the best floating experience that will stay in your memory for a lifetime.
Kayaking and Canoeing: Jinja city offers the best kayaking and canoeing activities along the river Nile. Visitors are taught how to behave while on the river and how to balance the paddles by professional instructors before taking off. It allows travelers to experience the true nature of the village by visiting the local areas, and plantations and enjoying birding along the Nile forests and on the river banks. No challenges and requires less experience, although those with experience can choose to tackle the strong and rapid waterfalls along the Nile.
Bungee jumping: It is one of the wildest activities you can do in Jinja. It entails leaping from a cliff while wearing an elastic cord tied around your waist and hips that is always connected to a tall building or a tackle falling towards the Nile waters. There are various bungee jumping activities in different areas, but doing it on the Nile waters is thrilling and exciting. The activity takes a few minutes, but it gives an unforgettable experience in existence, though it’s not organized for timid-hearted people.
Boat Cruise along the Nile: This activity can be arranged at Bujagali Lake, which was formed after the dam construction on Bujagali Falls. Visitors can dine and chill on the cruise while intermingling with other people. The cruise can be arranged for both day and evening hours, which grants an amazing opportunity to marvel at the Nile while enjoying beautiful creatures and attractions like birds, small primates, and much more. boat cruising can also be carried out on various major lakes in Uganda such as lake Albert, lake victoria, lake bunyonyi, and kazinga channel which connects lake Edward and George.
Nile Tubing: This is another popular activity carried out on the river Nile that makes Jinja such a dubbed adventure capital every visitor is certain to visit. Tubing involves bubbling the river Nile using the blown-up tubes while sunbathing, marveling at the birds, beautiful islands, green forests, and local people washing by the river banks. The companies offer both single and tandem tubing in either calmer water or the turbulent rapids of the Nile. To guarantee the safety of participants, a group of safety kayakers escort the crew.
Fishing: Jinja is one of the best fishing grounds with various fishing spots. The River Nile has one of the largest fish catchment areas and fishing is open for both professional and first-timer piscators. Among the fish that can be caught throughout the day are Nile perch, tilapia, catfish, and others. The guides outfit you with fishing equipment such as hooks, feeders, baits, rods, and lines and prepare you for freshwater fishing.
Visit the rural village: A visit to the villages around allows you to experience the true African culture with the local people. You can decide to camp near the village houses or stay with one of the families for a day, learn how to cook local food, or make the local potent gin known as Waragi with the local men. Nevertheless, the Indian community occupied Jinja in the 18th century as traders and constructed worship temples and tea plantation estates that attracted tourists and other visitors to the city. Tourists may also visit the Jinja main market, and the craft shops, and experience the natural taste of African crafts.
Visiting Mahatma Gandhi monument: Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the father of all nations and is remembered for his significant contribution to India’s transformation into a democratic nation. One of his last wishes he made was to sprinkle his ashes in the world’s great rivers, which included the Nile, hence the connection to Uganda. Guides will let you know more once you pay a visit to his monument.
Horseback Riding: The other way to experience and enjoy the Nile is by horseback. It takes you through the river banks and the countryside of the villages. It also provides opportunities to view beautiful attractions along the river banks, such as forests, valleys, and hills around the villages. It’s a very exciting activity that requires no experience with horses to be involved, and participants are always escorted by experienced guides.
Bird Watching: this can take place in Mabira Forest, one of the natural tropical forests located in central Uganda, along the Jinja highway. The forest populates over 200 bird species, 5 primate species, various tree species, butterflies, and many flowering plants, not forgetting the river Nile in Jinja inclusive. The activity is carried out on a boat along the Nile river banks and on other islands surrounding the Nile. It can be arranged in the morning or afternoon hours, but the best time for birding is in the morning hours when most of the birds are out of their nests to look for food.
The Ssezibwa Falls: The Ssezibwa Falls is found in the Mukono district along the Kampala–Jinja highway route. It’s one of the most visited cultural centers purposely for blessings and fortunes since it is believed to be produced by human beings, particularly the Baganda people, who consider it important to perform rituals for ancestral spirits that believe they still exist. Many visitors love the place due to its beautiful scenery of green forests that are home to small primates like monkeys, and bird species, as well as its clear waterfalls that fall from raised rocks. Other activities to be done at the falls include rock climbing and camping.