Jinja City – Places To visit In Jinja, Activities -Things To Do During Jinja Tours
Jinja City is one of the best places to include in your Uganda safaris and travel plans to see the source of the River Nile among other interesting Jinja tours. Jinja city is nestled on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and is deeply rooted in colorful history. The city is home to the source of the Nile, the longest river in the world. River Nile is one of the major geographic superlatives on the earth and from time immemorial, and it has been an outstanding natural land feature worth mentioning in historical books including the holy bible.
Jinja’s River Nile has also become a source of thrilling adventures and wonderful experiences, to the effect that Jinja is now dabbled as the ‘Adventure Capital of East Africa’. Visitors with time for a 1 day Jinja tour/2 day Jinja trip usually at the end or beginning of their Uganda wildlife safaris, Uganda gorilla safaris, Chimpanzee trekking Uganda tours, hiking safaris in Uganda, and other Uganda tours always head east of Kampala to the famed source of the Nile.
Jinja City is renowned as one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world. Couple this with bungee jumping, kayaking, mountain biking, jet boating, boarding, and you’ll be in adventure heaven. For those less eager, a sunset boat cruise, quad bike safari or simply lounging on an island in the middle of the river are all options to be enjoyed.
Location Of Jinja City
Jinja City is located in the eastern region of Uganda, on the northern shores of Lake Victoria. It is situated approximately 80km (or a 2-hour drive) east of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. So, you can take a day tour 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 Jinja adventure activities.
A Brief History Of Jinja
The site where Jinja City is was of no particular significance until 13,000 years ago when a shift in the tectonic plates underlying the Western Rift Valley relocated the outlet of Lake Victoria. The event also caused the natural granite rock to partially block the flow of water out of the lake. Local peoples named the granite “ejjinja,” which means “stone” in Luganda. This is where the modern-day Jinja City gets its name.
Jinja made its mark in history on August 3rd, 1858 when John Hanning Speke, a British explorer, arrived from Zanzibar. This was no ordinary trek for Speke. Since the time of Julius Caesar, finding the source of the River Nile in Jinja had been considered the epitome of successful African exploration. The journey also held personal significance for Speke, as he and his friend, fellow explorer Richard Burton, had a progressive dispute about the location of the source of the Nile. On that day in August, Speke solved one of the greatest mysteries in history when he discovered that the cascade of water over the granite/ejjinja is the source of the Nile.
As the world celebrated Jinja’s significance as the source of the Nile River, the people of Jinja continued to develop their livelihoods. And with the arrival of British colonial rule in 1906 and later the Indians, Jinja began to grow as a trading center. And, after the arrival of hydroelectricity and the railroad, Jinja became the industrial capital of Uganda.
During the 1970’s difficult political crises, Jinja’s trading and manufacturing economies suffered.
Best Tourist Attractions In Jinja ∣ Places To Visit In Jinja, Uganda
Apart from the historic source of the Nile, Jinja City is filled with many other cultural, historical, and natural attractions. The city features a rare surviving example of a historic trading street, made up of “Dukas” (shops) originally built by Jinja’s Asian community in the 1910s – 1940s. Here are the top tourist attractions in Jinja/places to visit in Jinja on your Uganda safari tours:
- Source Of The Nile in Jinja
- Lake Victoria In Jinja
- Samuka Island In Jinja
- Itanda Falls Jinja
- Markets, Churches & Old Indian Buildings in Jinja
- Kyabazinga Royal Palace In Jinja
Source Of The Nile In Jinja
The source of the Nile is one of the most iconic Uganda tourist attractions in Jinja. It is the point at which the world’s longest river leaves Africa’s largest lake to commence an epic 6,863km journey north to Egypt, where it flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
Jinja’s source of the Nile has long been disputed. In 1837, the German Explorer, Burkhart Waldecker claimed that the source could be traced further back to the headwaters of the River Kagera, the largest river that feeds Lake Victoria. In 2006, explorers from the UK and New Zealand posited that the true source is in Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. Notwithstanding all the claims, the Nile River does indeed leave Lake Victoria at submerged Ripon Falls in Jinja.
The Speke Monument one of Uganda’s tallest monuments stands in the exact place where John Speke first beheld the ‘Mighty Nile’. The authentic monument is located on a picturesque hill on the west bank of the Victoria Nile with panoramic views of Lake Victoria and the great River Nile.
Lake Victoria In Jinja
Magnificent, regal, and awe-inspiring in its grandeur! Perhaps these were words that crossed Speke’s mind when he first stood on the shores of Lake Victoria in 1858. His quest for the source of the Nile led him to the banks of a massive body of water that he named Victoria, after the then Queen of the United Kingdom.
Measuring 681000km2, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world after Lake Superior in North America.
Itanda Falls In Jinja
Affectionately known as “The Bad Place” the powerful Itanda Falls and its stretch of white water rapids were crafted by nature just for white-water rafting. Itanda has three levels of rapids graded 3, 4, and 5 that offer drastic vertical drop. The rapids are broken up by calm stretches of water surrendered by out the green-forested hillsides with a variety of birds, monkeys, and baboons. Because of the disappearance of Bujagali Falls, after a new power dam was constructed there, Itanda falls has gained popularity and attention has been placed on this jewel of the Nile.
Samuka Island In Jinja
Samuka Island is a small lush island in Lake Victoria that is reached via a (30 minutes) boat ride from the lakeshore in Jinja. The island is a haven to lots of water birds, especially during the Palearctic migrant season from October to May when huge flocks of wintering gulls and terns make the island home, covering the island in colorful colors of several bird species. Samuka is a perfect place to retreat & relax after the adventures on the Nile. It has accommodation and offers such a perfect getaway to enjoy tranquility and nature on your active safaris in Uganda.
Markets, Churches & Old Indian Buildings In Jinja City
The first foreign settlers in Jinja before independence were Indians.
Most came to Jinja because of trade and to work for the British colonial administrators in factories and during the construction of the railway line. Later, these Indians settled and opened up shops. When Idi Amin expelled them out of Uganda in 1972, they left behind buildings and industries. Some were taken over by Ugandans while others remained dilapidated and monuments in the town.
Apart from visiting the old buildings, Jinja also has large markets selling foodstuff and souvenirs. You can also pay a visit to some of the old churches to marvel at the architectural designs.
Kyabazinga Royal Palace in Jinja City
Kyabazinga palace on Igenge Hill is the perfect place to learn about the traditions, culture, and history of the Basoga people of Busoga Kingdom.
In March 2020, His Highness Kyabazinga William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV started living in the official palace in Bugembe Town Council in Jinja District. Kyabazinga’s palace has been unoccupied for six years due to renovation by the government of Uganda. Busoga became a kingdom in 1906 when only it had no central ruler.
The king was installed with the help of the British. In Busoga, some of the chiefs were appointed by the Kabaka of Buganda Kingdome and given authority to rule the land in Busoga.
Top Attractions Near Jinja City
- Mabira Forest Reserve
- Ssezibwa Falls
- Kagulu Hill
- Sipi Falls On Mount Elgon
Mabira Forest Reserve
Mabira Forest is located about a 30-minute drive from Jinja. Actually while traveling from Kampala to Jinja you go through this green, lush forest located along the Kampala – Jinja highway.
Mabira Forest is the largest natural tropical rainforest in the central region of Uganda covering an area of 306km2. It normally does not miss the Jinja tour itineraries of nature lovers going on a day trip to Jinja. On the way to Jinja, you can stop over for a 2 – 3 hour nature walk or a Zip lining adventure through the forest and get up close with nature, watch a variety of wildlife species including birds, butterflies, monkeys, plants, and trees
Ssezibwa Falls is another great spot located 40 minutes on the Jinja – Kampala highway that provides a nice stopover on Jinja tours in Uganda. The Ssezibwa is a natural place with cultural significance as it holds interesting myths and traditions for the Baganda tribe of Buganda
Kingdom. You can stop over here 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.
Jinja City is not a known destination for hiking. But the famous Kagulu Hill, standing at 3048m, is worth a day’s hike for hiking enthusiasts and rock climbing lovers, and also those seeking to learn more about the traditions of the people in this area. The hill has cultural and historical significance as it is known for being the first settlement of the Basoga people who occupy Jinja. It is located in the Buyende district about a 2-hour drive from Jinja.
Sipi Falls On Mount Elgon
The three spectacular Sipi Falls (65m, 85m, & 100m) are quite a distance away from Jinja, farther in eastern Uganda. But they are worth including your Jinja tour if you’re a fan of hiking. The falls are located in the foothills of Mt Elgon. The drive from Jinja to Sipi is about 3 hours. You can go hike to the falls, do the abseiling adventure on the falls, and get back to Jinja in one day.
Best Activities To Do In Jinja ∣ Things To Do In Jinja Uganda
Wondering what are the best outdoor activities in Jinja/Jinja adventure activities? There are a variety of fun things to do in Jinja on your Uganda tours. Here is a list of top best outdoor activities in Jinja to enjoy on your safaris in Uganda:
- Source Of The Nile Boat Cruise
- Whitewater Rafting On The Nile
- Kayaking On The Nile
- Mountain Biking Tours Around Jinja
- Quad Biking Tours Around Jinja
- Bungee Jumping Over The Nile
- Horseback Riding On Nile River Banks
- Jet Boating On The Nile
- Stand Up Paddleboarding On The Nile
- Sport Fishing On the Nile & Lake Victoria
- Tubing The Nile
- Sunset Boat Cruise On The Nile
- Relax & Chill Out In The Middle Of The Nile
- Community Village Walks In Jinja
- Jinja City Drive
- Sundowner Along River Nile
Source Of The Nile Boat Cruise in Jinja
A source of the Nile boat cruise is the perfect way to enjoy a few relaxing hours on the River Nile on your Uganda tours. The cruise takes you upstream of the Nile River to the exact spot where the world’s longest river begins its 6,863km journey.
The point is marked with a small signage. Water bubbles can be observed here, indicating that water is sprouting from the ground before it mixes with water from Lake Victoria to flow northwards. You have lots of photo opportunities.
Bird enthusiasts are in for a treat, as the region is populated with water birds such as cormorants, herons, kingfishers, and pelicans, among others. This can be a one-hour boat ride.
Whitewater Rafting On The Nile In Jinja
While most people come to Uganda for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one other activity often ends up being a surprise highlight: white water rafting on the River Nile. It is one of the amazing things to do in Uganda.
The stretch of rapids in the upper Nile offers some of the world’s best white water rafting. A full-day white-water rafting experience here covers 9 rapids including one Grade 6, four Grade 5, and four Grade 4, rafting over a distance of 20kms to end at Itanda Falls. The rapids are broken up by calm stretches of water where rafters can check out the green-forested hillsides and even spot a variety of birds, monkeys, and baboons, as they prepare for a fresh dose of action, before breaking for lunch and heading back for another round.
There are also options for half-day rafting and a choice of packages that cater to families, groups that cater to all levels and experiences. Safety standards are impeccable; with all rafting trips accompanied by a fleet of rescue kayaks and a safety boar you can retreat to if you find things a bit too adventurous for your tastes.
Nile River Kayaking In Jinja
Another great way to experience the historic Nile River up close on your Uganda trip in Jinja is by Kayaking. Like rafting, kayaking is not just for those with experience. After a short introductory course, many first-timers can effectively navigate their kayak with the Nile crashing around them.
Kayaking, like all the other Jinja adventure activities, is very safe, and the guides are very experienced. A full-day kayaking trip begins in the morning with an introduction lesson on a calm section of the river. The afternoon session is a full white-water adventure that starts in a free-flowing section of the river and depending on where one is kayaking or their skill level, leads up to serious rapids like the world-famous ‘Nile Special’ rapid.
You can kayak solo or try out tandem kayaking (double kayak). Tandem kayaking is ideal for first-timers since it allows those with little or no kayaking experience to take on some of the biggest and best rapids in a day.
Mountain Biking Tour Around Jinja
Mountain biking tours are a great way to get off the beaten track and explore Jinja and the banks of the River Nile, with a knowledgeable local guide.
The notable mountain biking trails include Bujagali Ride, a 2-hour ride through villages and small farms, with spectacular views of the Nile, along the way, and the Bugembe Viewpoint Ride that takes you on a challenging ride to the top of a small hill that offers the best views of the Nile and Lake Victoria, before continuing through Jinja town and source of the Nile.
Another thrilling riding excursion is the 20km Mabira Forest Ride that starts out of Jinja and takes you to Mabira Forest. You then ride through the forest on narrow tracks with a canopy of trees providing shelter from the sun is experiencing nature at its best. This ride wanders through small villages, sugar and banana plantations and gives a good taste of rural Uganda.
Quad Biking Tours Around Jinja
Quad biking is another of the thrilling Jinja adventure activities.
It is also family-friendly as children are catered for. The quad biking routes run along River Nile, giving you an unparalleled view of the Nile River as it meanders through the countryside. Quad bike tours in Jinja last between 1 and 3 hours and can include visits to local villages.
Bungee Jumping Over The Nile River In Jinja
Bungee jumping over the Nile River is the epitome of adrenaline adventure activities you can do in Jinja! You get to leap from a 44 meters high platform into the Nile.
This is not for the faint-hearted; rather, it is for the daredevils. The jumping platform extends over the Nile River and will offer you spectacular views across the river, its source, and the beautiful countryside. The bungee jumping price in Jinja starts from USD 70 per person.
Horseback Riding In Jinja
When in Jinja, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to ride a horse for a unique Uganda safari adventure. A 2-3-hour ride on these great healthy horses is just one of the fun things to do in Jinja Uganda. You explore the beauty of the Mighty Nile River with people waving at you as you ride through local villages. The horses are very well trained and maintained by their Australian owners.
There are horses for riders of all experience levels.
Jet Boating On The Nile In Jinja
Jet Boating is similar to white water rafting but with a difference.
Instead of using the balloon rafts, you navigate the rapids in a high-speed boat traveling at a thrilling speed of up to 90km/h. The 30-minute excursion provides the same adrenaline feeling as all other Nile water sports in Jinja. It offers several 360-degree spins, leaps, and near-misses.
Stand Up Paddleboarding On The Nile
Stand-up paddleboarding the Nile River in Jinja is a less harrowing, yet still adventurous way to experience the longest river on the planet. Rent a board to practice your skills around the bay, or for those more experienced, saddle up and head further downstream.
Sport Fishing Tours On The Nile & Lake Victoria
Sports fishing is also among the best things to do in Jinja Uganda.
The Nile River and Lake Victoria are home to one of the biggest freshwater fish species in the world, the mighty Nile Perch. We can provide you with the opportunity to hunt these fish on both water bodies. You can book either full day, morning, or afternoon trips which cater for either the first-timers or the expert anglers. All fishing gear, safety gear, and drinking water is supplied.
Tubing The Nile In Jinja
Tubing the Nile is another of the amazing outdoor activities in Jinja. The activity entails floating along the River Nile on an inflatable tube while sunbathing, watching birds, beautiful islands, and green forests. Opportunities for both single and tandem tubing in either calmer water or the turbulent rapids of the Nile are available.
To ensure the safety of your safety on tubing experience, you are escorted by safety kayakers.
Sunset Boat Cruise On The Nile
If you’re to spend like two days in Jinja, consider going on a Nile sunset boat cruise.
Sunset cruises typically last for around 2 hours. You watch the sun as it settles over the shores of Lake Victoria and the River Nile! You enjoy unique sites of the river and watch birds.
Your private chef can prepare a lovely barbecue dinner as you sample delights from the buffet of finger foods and sip two complimentary cocktails or beers. Nile sunset cruises accommodate couples and families, as well as large groups requiring a two-level pontoon boat for special events.
Relax & Chill Out In The Middle Of The Nile
While most visitors to Jinja are here the adrenaline-pumping adventures, not nearly enough hang around to soak up its calming waters.
But, just a few kilometers downstream is found the luxurious Wildwaters Lodge, one of the most tranquil lodges you’ll ever encounter on an African safari. It is located on roughly 6 hectares on Kalagala Island, on a unique private island mid-stream within the mighty River Nile.
It’s in a sublime location and only reached by boat. It is uniquely perched on granite rocks with dramatic and exciting rapids roaring all around. It offers a relaxing and intimate location for honeymooners and couples looking for some quiet time.
Community Village Walks In Jinja
If you would like an authentic Uganda safari tour experience in Jinja, we highly advise you to take a community village walk in Namwendwa, just east of Jinja.
During your tour, you learn how to prepare local food (such as the banana mash known as “matoke”), brew your own Ugandan Gin (“waragi”), and of course, meet the local people.
Jinja City Drive
Jinja is charmingly quiet with lots of greenery and some colonial buildings. Take your time driving through the city as you explore the lively streets, local markets, and shop for souvenirs ranging from clothes, jewelry, musical instruments, bags, wallets, curving, molds, to paintings.
Sundowner Along River Nile
There is no better way to spend your evening than on a sundowner along River Nile to Lake Victoria in Jinja. You sip on a cocktail as you enjoy the magnificent views of the Nile and the lush countryside.
Best Hotels In Jinja ∣ Where To Stay In Jinja?
There are a variety of places to stay in Jinja City/accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses in Jinja, lodges in Jinja, campsites in Jinja, and hostels.
These Jinja accommodation facilities are found in the middle town, residential quarters, banks, and islands of the River Nile. They are categorized as offering budget, mid-range, and luxury services. Below is the best accommodation in Jinja/places to stay in Jinja in their categories:
Luxury Accommodation In Jinja City
- Lemala Wildwaters Lodge
- Jinja Nile Resort In Jinja
Lemala Wildwaters Lodge
One of the best luxury Uganda safari lodges, Wildwaters Lodge features 10 spacious suites that lie within 6 hectares of pristine riverine forest that make up an island in the middle of the Nile River. Each suite has a balcony with stunning views and an outdoor claw-foot tub for alfresco bathing – a perfect way to watch the sunset.
Additionally, suites have queen-sized daybeds ideal for unwinding with a book from the lodge’s library, as well as hand basins carved from local pink granite. White-water Lodge assures a stress-free honeymoon or Uganda safari holiday, whether you’re in your suite or out on the water.
Jinja Nile Resort In Jinja City
Nile Resort is built along the Nile River banks and has large gardens. The Resort offers a total of 102 single and double rooms which all have a TV, a balcony, and a sitting area.
It also features a restaurant that serves intercontinental meals and a bar with a large collection of beers, wines, and spirits. Conference rooms, business centers, grilling facilities, a children’s play area, a fitness facility, a photocopying area, and projectors are among the other amenities.
Midrange Hotels In Jinja ∣ Lodges In Jinja
- Haven Eco River Lodge Jinja
- 2 Friends Guesthouse Jinja
- Gately On The Nile
- Bilkon Hotel
- King Kingfisher Safari Resort
- Sunset Hotel International
- Brisk Hotel Triangle Jinja
- Jinja Source Of The Nile Hotel
Haven Eco River Lodge Jinja City
Overlooking the Nile, this wonderful, friendly lodge is all about location.
It has pleasant grounds featuring a play area, bike rentals, and sandbox, it’s great for families too. There are dramatic views from thatched-roofed bandas, tents, bungalows, family suites, and honeymoon suites, all with hot water, a safe, a large bed, a mosquito net, and flat-screen television. Haven boasts numerous eco-friendly credentials, a safari-style restaurant, and a swimming pool with sun loungers.
Friends Guesthouse Jinja
2 Friends Guesthouse is a relaxed guesthouse with a smart safari-themed double and twin rooms with flat-screen TVs, safes, and attractive African art. Cottages around a lovely bamboo garden and swimming pool go for slightly more.
There are bikes for hire, plus free laundry service and a worthwhile on-site restaurant.
Gately On The Nile
Gately on the Nile’s stylish rooms boasts high ceilings, mosaic tile floors, and batik fabrics. They’re split between a lovely garden house and loft apartments and a gigantic villa across the road, all with views of Lake Victoria.
The Mediterranean-style house is a great choice for honeymooners and families. Service is attentive and the restaurant is one of the best in town.
Bilkon Hotel In Jinja City
Built along the main road heading towards Kampala, Bilkon Hotel has 64 clean and comfortable rooms that are single, double, or twin. All rooms have furniture, showers, a TV, air conditioning, and marble fittings.
The hotel also has a lounge area, a restaurant, a bar, barbecue, conference rooms, and free internet. Bilkon Hotel is ideal for organizing meetings, parties, and large weddings.
King Kingfisher Safari Resort
Kingfisher is located 9m away from Jinja town near Lake Victoria.
The resort is owned by Germans and has 28 single rooms, 7 twin rooms, 4 family rooms, and 6 double rooms. All the rooms have showers, laundry services, and a veranda. King Fisher has a camping site, a large swimming pool, a bar, a children’s playground, and a large garden.
Sunset Hotel International
Sunset Hotel International in Jinja town offers high-quality rooms with single and double options. Each room has a TV, fridge, large bed, air conditioning, showers, bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and other high-quality furniture.
Some of the higher-end rooms even have a double Jacuzzi. The hotel has a laundry service, luggage rooms, a gift shop, fire detectors, and facilities for the disabled.
Brisk Hotel Triangle Jinja
Overlooking the River Nile, Brisk Hotel offers 130 spacious, self-contained guestrooms and suites. You can also see Lake Victoria from their room windows.
All rooms have telephones, a Flat Screen TV, Wi-Fi, and high-quality bedding. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, conference rooms, steam bath/sauna, and gym center. Coffee and Tea are free and can be served at any time on request.
Jinja Source Of The Nile Hotel
This hotel is only 210 meters away from the source of the Nile.
Its spacious rooms are divided into single, twin, and deluxe. Each room has a large bed, drawer, tiled floors, a desk, a chair, a shower, a fan, and a television. The hotel also has free Wi-Fi, a bar, restaurant, conference facilities, and large panoramic gardens for relaxation.
Budget Accommodation In Jinja
- Explorers River Camp Jinja
- Nile Porch
- Busoga Trust Guesthouse
Explorers River Camp Jinja
Explorers River Camp is built along the river Nile with views of Lake Bujagali. It has a beautiful beach with majestic views of the Nile. Barbecue and camping are arranged by the beach-side while partying and marveling at the beautiful river.
The hotel has tented rooms which are very clean, with hot showers and free Wi-Fi. The trees around the hotel attract monkeys and birds.
Nile Porch has ample semi tented ensuite safari bandas situated on the banks of the Nile.
The bandas can be booked as a Single occupancy, Double occupancy, or Triple occupancy configuration. Inside you’ll find dark wood furniture, mosquito nets, and local art decor. There’s a swimming pool, a superb restaurant and family cottages which sleep up to six.
Busoga Trust Guesthouse
Busoga Trust Guesthouse is a comfortable budget B&B style guesthouse situated in a leafy suburb of Jinja, about a 15-minute walk from the town center. It is ideal for backpackers passing through Jinja, or longer-term guests who are volunteering in the area.
Busoga Trust has a chilled-out vibe with a homely lounge, kitchen for self-caterers, fast Wi-Fi, a patio looking out to its garden, and spacious rooms. Proceeds go directly towards water-sanitation projects in rural villages.
How To Get To Jinja City?
Jinja is located about an 80km/2-3 hour drive east of Kampala.
A tour to Jinja requires driving from Kampala via Mabira forest, roadside markets, and tea and sugar plantations. Due to traffic jams on Kampala-Jinja road, you’re advised to start the journey early in the morning, at around 6.30 am. This is so that there is ample time to return to Kampala in time if you are interested in a 1 day Jinja tour.
When To Visit Jinja City?
You can visit Jinja year-round. The flow of the river is dam-controlled and so is not affected by the rains. The most popular time to visit Uganda is in the drier months of late June to October and late December to early March, but it is possible (and enjoyable) to travel outside these times.
The wonders of Jinja City are quite invigorating and the popular tour activities are just right to even for the most adventurous of people. Most people usually prefer to use the services of a tour company in Uganda so that they fully enjoy these wonders. Visit Uganda and take part in the amazing tourist activities in Jinja.
If you are ready to start planning your visit to Jinja – the source of the Nile, please contact us to help tailor-make an exciting Jinja tour that’s right for you.