Over View;

The 1 Day Jinja Tour, will take you to Jinja town that lies in the south eastern Uganda, approximately 87 Km by road east of Kampala and is usually encountered on Jinja Source of the Nile Tours as one of your Uganda safaris. The town is located on Lake Victoria shores close to River Nile source. The town is the vast cosmopolitan place in the region and is considered the capital of the kingdom of Busoga. It has elevation of 1171 meters and lies at latitude 00*27N and longitude 033*11E.

Before 1906, this Uganda safari hot spot – Jinja was a fishing village that benefited from being located on long distance trade paths. The basis for Jinja name arises from the dialects of two peoples (The Baganda and the Basoga) that lived on the either side of the Nile River in the area. In both languages Jinja means Rock. In most Africa, Rivers like Nile stuck movement, a reason justifying the ethnic confines beside the Nile as one moves north of the river’s source on the northern shores of Lake Victoria.

However the area around Jinja was one place where the river could be breached due to the large rocks near the Rippon falls. Here, on either bank of the river were large flat rocks where small boats could be launched to cross the river. Thee rock formations were also accredited with providing a natural moderator for the water flow out of Lake Victoria – a water body normally treasured by travellers while undertaking safaris in Uganda. For the original local in habitats, the location was a crossing point for trade, migration and as a fishing post. The average temperature for the year in Jinja is 22.8 degrees Celsius. The warmest month on average is January while the coolest is June. This atmospheric setting makes Jinja a perfect chill out place on Uganda safari.

rafting at the nile

Rafting at the Nile

nile crocodile on the side

Nile Crocodiles during a boat cruise

There are various attractions in Jinja that can be encountered while planning safaris to Uganda including; the source of the Nile, Swaminarayan Temple, the Jinja market, Nile Brewery and Owen falls Dam. It has a range of adventure sports and activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping, jet boating, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, motorcycling, quad biking and horse riding. Others include; sunset Nile boat cruises, golf, camping and birding. All these combine to optimize the experience of visitors on Uganda safaris.

Views of Jinja Market, while roadside vendors struggle to sell to passengers in a taxi (R)
Views of Jinja Market, while roadside vendors struggle to sell to passengers in a taxi (R)
River Nile which is listed as the longest river in the world begins its journey to the Mediterranean Sea at Jinja. Carrying enormous amounts of water from the gigantic Lake Victoria as the only outlet to this largest tropical lake in the world and the second largest fresh water lake on the similar scale not forgetting being the mighty on the continental lands of Africa, River Nile has become a mystical wonder that dates back to the Roman times prompting a range of world historical explorers to make their way to the unknown lands of Africa in search of its source.
The range of explorers set out to discover the source of the Nile and among these include; the Richard Burton, John Hannington Speke, Captain James Grant and Sir. Samuel Baker. These distinguished fellows were from re-known world explorer societies for example the Royal Geographical Society of London. This explains the magnitude to which River Nile was considered to be of great value to the International Geography & history as well.

The Explorers of the Nile (L-R): John Hannington Speke, Richard Burton, Sir. Samuel Baker and Captain James Grant

The River derived its international curiosity from its works in supporting the populations in the Saharan region of Africa and Egypt in particular as the only source of water that maintained the lives of the people and the economy of the country as a whole.
Therefore finding the source of the Nile was something of great significance not only for exploratory satisfaction in the ancient times but also to the life of contemporary mankind. Undertaking a safari tour to Uganda in search of this maiden source will definitely take you back in time when Africa was still referred to as Dark Continent and experience the real footsteps of the ancient explorers including those of John Speke who was the first European to reach at its source.
In 1858, John Hannington Speke marched from Tabora to Mwanza following his joint discovery of Lake Tanganyika along with Richard Burton the previous year. On arrival, Speke named the lake after the Queen Victoria of England while the Arabs who had earlier been trading along it named it Ukererwe while the locals from the Tanzanian side named it Nyanza while those in Uganda named Nalubaale believing that their ancestral spirit Lubaale resided in that very lake.
The motivation for this expedition was to solve the White Nile question. The dispute between Burton and Speke erupted on their way back home as Burton believed that Lake Tanganyika was the source of the Nile while Speke had his whole belief rested in Lake Victoria.

Following this disagreement, John Speke and Captain James Grant returned in 1862-63 in order to prove Speke’s history correct. They entered into inland coming across the Palace of Kabaka (King) Muteesa of Buganda after which they continued east wards to the Jinja of today meeting a substantial river that flowed out of the Lake after tumbling over a cascade that was named as Rippon Falls by Speke. These two explorers continued along it reaching Lake Albert and eventually to Khartoum and Cairo. Though they had actually proved the Speke’s hypothesis and he had made a declaration that the Nile is settled, the attempt was welcomed by mixed reactions back home. Burton and other skeptic’s argued that Speke had bypassed the entire western shore of his purported great lake and had visited only a couple of points on the northern shore and had not attempted to explore the east. Nor, for that matter had he followed the course of the Nile in its entirety. Distractors claimed Speke had seen several different lakes and different stretches of river connected only in Speke’s deluded mind. Though the skeptics had a point, Speke had gathered sufficient geographical evidence to render his claim highly plausible. The Speke’s notion off one great lake far from being whimsy was backed by anecdotal information gathered from local sources along the way.
On 16th September 1864, these matters were scheduled for debate between Burton and Speke which was known as the Nile Duel and was to take place at the Royal Geographical Society. Unfortunately, on the afternoon of the debate, Speke went out shooting with a cousin only to stumble while crossing a wall in the process of discharging a barrel of his shotgun into his heart. Though the subsequent inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death, it has been suggested because of the curious timing that Speke might have took his life rather that facing Burton in public. Burton who had seen Speke three hours’ earlier was by all means troubled by Speke’s death and in the subsequent years that followed he was quoted saying that the uncharitable say that I shot him – something that seems to have aired only in Burton’s imagination.
Speke was dead and the White Nile question continued for several years prompting Sir Samuel and Lady Baker to embark on the search for the same mystery. In 1864, they became the first Europeans to reach Lake Albert and at the same time exploring the Murchison Falls which they named after the president of the Royal Geographical Society Sir Roderick Murchison. These explorers subscribing to the anti-Speke lobby were easily convinced that Lake Albert was the Nile source though they openly admitted that it was not the only one. After the Bakers’ announcement, Burton forwarded a revised version stating that River Rusizi was the remote source of the Nile that stretched from Lake Tanganyika and emptied in Lake Albert.

Dr. David Livingstone, The 2 suggested sources of the Nile by then and a monument in memory of John Hannington Speke
Dr. David Livingstone, The 2 suggested sources of the Nile by then and a monument in memory of John Hannington Speke

The Royal Geographical Society in 1865 sent out Dr. David Livingstone to Lake Tanganyika who also held an opinion that the source of the Nile laid further to the south than what Burton said. This prompted him to strike towards the Lake in a previously unexplored route. He left Mikindani in the far south of Tanzania following River Ruvuma inland continuing westward to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. From there he extended southwards to Zambia where he came across the new candidate for the source of the Nile named River Lualaba.
When Livingstone met Stanley in November 1871 at Ujiji, they visited north of Tanganyika and River Rusizi the Burtons cherished remote source flowed into the lake. While Burton was still more convinced that Lake Tanganyika was the likely source of the Nile, Livingstone was convinced that the source lay in Lualaba River. In the year 1872, Livingstone went back to Lake Bangweulu region where he unfortunately fell ill and lost his life with the Nile question still unanswered.
In August 1874, Henry Morton Stanley embarked on a three year expedition to test the methodically the theories as put forward by Speke, Burton and Livingstone regarding the source of the Nile. Stanley circumnavigated Lake Victoria agreeing that it was indeed vast as Speke had put it. He then circumnavigated Lake Tanganyika ascertaining that the Lake had not outlet sufficiently large to produce the Nile River which was contrary to Burton’s long held theories and finally he navigated with a boat along Lualaba River as put forward by Dr. Livingstone which he followed for months with no idea of his end point. Following 999 days of his departure at Zanzibar, Stanley emerged at Congo mouth and the general theories about the source of the Nile had been reduced to one and that nothing other than that of Speke.
It was clearly evidenced that indeed the Nile River flowed from Lake Victoria at Rippon Falls before entering and exiting Lake Albert at its northern tip making its way to the sands of Sahara. Stanley indeed put an end to the mystery of the source of the Nile and he was magnanimous to remark that “Speke now has the full glory of having discovered the largest inland sea on the continent of Africa, also its potential affluent as well as its outlet. I must also give him credit for having understood the geography of the countries we traveled through far better than any of us who persistently opposed his hypothesis”.

Monuments that mark the source of the Nile in Jinja district, Uganda, East Africa
Monuments that mark the source of the Nile in Jinja district, Uganda, East Africa

This account makes the source of the Nile a legendary mystery that was proved here in Uganda which in turn makes the site of both national and International significance an worth encountering while by undertaking a safari in Uganda.

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