Top things to do and see in Jinja city

Famous for having the source of the River Nile, Jinja is one of the most popular destinations in Uganda and has been referred to as the adventure capital of Uganda and east Africa. This is because of the many adventures one can do in Jinja. It is also very close to Kampala the capital of Uganda, easily reached in one and half hour’s drive from the capital. So you can take a day trip to Jinja, enjoy an adventure and get back before nightfall, or book into a hotel in a serene spot along the Nile and indulge in the many adventures Jinja has to offer and visit several interesting spots.

Below are top things to do and see in and near Jinja

Visit the Source of the River Nile

Jinja is almost synonymous with the source of the Nile. The source is the most popular attraction in Jinja, and any visit to Jinja (or even Uganda) is almost incomplete without a tour to the place where the River Nile, the longest river in the world begins its journey.

You visit the source of the Nile by taking a short boat trip to the point where the Nile starts flowing from Lake Victoria. The point is marked with a small monument or signage. The boat trip to the source also gives you nice views across Lake Victoria and sightings of wildlife such as birds and monitor lizards

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest lake can be experienced in several places but Jinja is one of the best places as you can combine it with your visit to the source of the Nile and with the several adventures done on River Nile. You can take a boat trip to the lake, explore the lush countryside, enjoy the scenery and watch out for wildlife such birds, visit some beautiful islands such as Samuka Island, etc…

Samuka island – a perfect getaway

Samuka island is a small lush island in Lake Victoria that is reached via a (30 minutes) boat ride from the lake shore at the source in Jinja. The island has accommodation, and offers such a perfect getaway to enjoy tranquility and nature. The island hots lots of water birds, especially during the palearctic migrant season from Oct to May when huge flocks of wintering gulls and terns make the island home, covering the island in colorful colors of several species of birds.

Samuka Island is a perfect place to retreat and relax after the adventures on the Nile and experiences in Jinja.

Rafting – and other water adventure on the Nile

The Nile rapids in Jinja are a source of world-class white water rafting and thousands of adrenaline junkies as well as adventure enthusiasts flock Jinja each year for this thrilling adventure.

Rafting is in fact the most popular water adventure done on the Nile in Jinja. Rafter can experience rapids of up to grade 5. If you are not keen on going through the raging grade 5 rapids the rafting guides will take you through the softer rapids.

Other water adventures you can enjoy on the Nile and Like Victoria in Jinja include: kayaking, tubing, surfing,

Quad biking

Quad biking is another thrilling adventure in Jinja and it is family friendly too as children are catered for. The quad biking trails run along the Nile giving you a unique experience of the Nile as it meanders through the countryside. The trails also go through villages giving you an insight into the life of the local people in the countryside, see their gardens and the different types of crops grown, etc…

Horseback Riding

This is another family friendly adventure in Jinja and just like quad biking offers a beautiful experience along the Nile and discovery of the countryside and its people.

Nyege Nyege Festival

Nyege nyege is a relatively new festival that has become a phenomenon as it is arguably the most sought-after festival in East Africa. Revelers throng Jinja from all over the world to experience art, enjoy different types of music entertainment with artists and djs coming from many different countries, eat an array of dishes and freely express themselves during the 4 day festival.

Visit a sugar plantation and factory

Jinja and Busoga region are known for commercial sugarcane growing and most of Uganda’s sugar factories are in this area. In fact as you get to jinja you will notice big sugar cane plantations making up for a lot of the landscape along the way. You can visit a sugarcane plantation and be taken through the process of growing sugarcanes to the time of harvest and then continue to a factory and see how sugarcanes are processed into the final products, sugar and other biproducts.

Kyabazinga Royal palace – culture and traditions of the basoga people

Away from adventure, you can also visit the Kyabazinga’s palace at Budhumbula and learn about the traditions, culture, history of the people in this area who are the Basoga tribe.

The palace is located out of Jinja in Iganga District but it is short drive from Jinja.

Kagulu hill/rock hike

Jinja is not a known destination for hiking, but Kagulu hill is a famous hill with cultural and historical significancy as it is known for being the first settlement of the Basoga people who occupy Jinja. Standing at 3048m, the hill is worthy a day’s hike for the hiking enthusiasts and rock climbing lovers, and also those seeking to learn more about the traditions of the people in this area.

Kagulu hill is also located out of Jinja, in Buyende district about 2 hours drive from Jinja.

More things to see and do outside Jinja

Mabira forest

Mabira forest is located about 20 minutes drive from Jinja. Actually while traveling from Kampala to Jinja you go through this green expanse of forest located along the Kampala – Jinja highway. Mabira is the largest forest in the central region of Uganda. The forest normally does not miss on itineraries of nature lovers going on a day trip to Jinja. On the way to jinja one can stop over for a 2 – 3 hour walk and get up close with nature, watch a number of wildlife such as monkeys, butterflies, squirrels, reptiles, plants, trees, birds, etc…

Sezibwa falls

Sezibwa Falls is another great spot located 30 minutes on the Jinja – Kampala highway that provides a nice stopover on trips to Jinja. The Sezibwa is a natural place with cultural significancy as it holds interesting myths and traditions for the Baganda tribe. One can stop over at Sezibwa for a 1 – 2 hours walk to see the beautiful waterfalls, take in the lovely natural surrounding and learn about the cultures and traditions associated with the place.

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls are quite a distance away from Jinja, farther in eastern Uganda, however it is a highlight worthy including on the trip to Jinja for the hiking enthusiasts. Sipi falls are located in the foothills of Mt. Elgon. The drive from Jinja to Sipi is about 3 hours. From Jinja you can go hike to the falls, do the abseiling adventure on the falls, and get back to Jinja in one day.

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