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Uganda: Pearl of Africa & source of the Nile

March 29, 2013

This past weekend I discovered what Kampalans do to escape the hustle & bustle of the city….they go to Jinja! Like any cosmopolitan city it's typical for its residents to fly the coop for the weekend to popular, more relaxing destinations. Many people visit family outside the city or go on trips with friends to surrounding areas. Traffic jams are a daily headache for anyone living or working in Kampala and it’s not uncommon to sit in them for hours at a time, but they are especially bad on Fridays as endless streams of cars and buses pour out of Kampala.

Jinja is about a 2 hour drive northeast of Kampala without said traffic and lays on the northern edge of Lake Victoria. It is considered the source of the Nile River and was discovered by John Hanning Speke back in mid-1800. Like any good history story, this discovery was not without drama. Originally Speke set out on an expedition with Captain Richard Burton commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society to find the source of the Nile. Burton was convinced the source was Lake Tanganyika which contradicted Speke’s belief of Lake Victoria as the source.

Unfortunately Speke could not definitively prove his theory and shot himself by accident before the two men were set to debate publicly. It wasn’t until several years after his death that Speke’s theory of Lake Vic as the source of the Nile was proven by another expedition. If you’re interested in reading more about the soap opera below is a good link from History Today journal. http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/nile%E2%80%99s-source-discovered

sunrise over the Nile

Aside from Jinja being the source of the Nile River and just a beautiful view, there are tons of tourist attractions including those for adrenaline junkies. Not only is there white water rafting and kayaking, but also ATV racing and bungee jumping. Our group decided to stick with a lazy horseback ride along the Nile; equally enjoyable but less likely to inflict bodily harm or risk of death.
horseback riding

fishing on the Nile

The Ugandan countryside is really stunning with its verdant hills and thick tropical forests. The roads are peppered with plantations, usually banana and tea.
tea plantation

on the road

Eastern Uganda countryside

After just one weekend, I can see what all the hype is about. I will definitely be back to Jinja before I leave Uganda.

Citation: Cavendish, Richard. "The Nile's Source Discovered." History Today 58.8 (2008).