Visiting the source of the Nile

Spending a wonderful time at the source of the Nile is one of the most rewarding things that you should not miss out while on safari in Uganda. The encounter takes you the very point where the Nile makes its outflow form the Lake at the submerged Rippon falls that were encountered by John Speke and James Grant while on the second account of the search for the source of the Nile.The location is amazing with the enchanting bird songs and the legendary stories of the Nile that date back to the ancient Roman times. The boat to the source is very rewarding as you approach the gigantic Lake Victoria which Speke described as vast something that was to be proved few years later by Henry Stanley after the Speke’s death.

The monument of historical Mahatma Gandhi stands on the shore line justifying the Afro Asian Solidarity that he has advocated for years and his love for liberation of mankind. The Ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were thrown in the majestic Nile River which happens to the longest in the whole world. Encounter the footsteps of John Hannington Speke where he stood on his discovery account of the Nile.


Kalagala falls is 28km to the north is becoming an alternative tourism hub of the Nile following the construction of Bujagali dam. It has a stunning setting with three major rapids pouring between the riverbanks and two large mid-river islands. The western bank though it is denuded of trees is less developed due to existence of Kalagala Forest Reserve. The Adrift rafting company secured a concession of developing tourism facilities on the site and visitors enjoy a wide range of water sports including jet boating, river surfing, rafting and gentle cruises that offers sights of birds and otters.

Kalagala is a significant cultural site of Buganda and a massive tree beneath which the visiting Kabaka’s sat is standing on the promontory above the river while the shrine which is still of great attachment to the traditionists is found with a jumble of massive riverside boulders.

Kalagala falls can be accessed from the western bank of the Nile 3km from Kangulumira town on the rather reserved Kayunga road that loops around Mabira forest. Another route can be turning on the road to Kayunga while in Mukono following it for 74km to Kangulumira turning right on a T – junction at Mukalagi.


Attraction at Kalagala

Kalagala Water falls

Kalagala falls is a mighty place to encounter the roaring strength of the falls with their thunderous roar as they pass through nestled black rocks with the water of the Nile in their enormous volumes and force. Encountering the mighty waters of the Nile from 4metres above as they forge their way through impermeable rock boulders to continue to their respective destination is one of the impressive memories you can have while on safari in Uganda.

The spirits tree

The spirits tree lies on the western side after the entrance to the falls and it where the n encounter with the old sprits of Buganda awaits you. The tree has a back cloth with an entrance like structure with two spears appearing besides the entrance and a fire place which is locally known as ekyooto.

Views at Kalagala Falls Spirits tree

The site is of great cultural importance to Buanda traditionists and they regard it as sacred. Shoes have to be removed as a sign of dedication and respect for these ancestral spirits. Traditionists pray for their various wishes to these spirits and the sprits grant them what they prayed for.

The rock trail

The rock trail enables you gain impressive sightseeing opportunities. The trail guides you to approach the wonder rocks moving along impressive short free standing trees on either sides and the its altitudinal rise gives it an advantage for offering rich scenic views of the river flow and the other side of the river do not forgetting small rocks down the river.


The wonder rocks

The wonder rock as the name suggests are splendid curved rocks at Kalagala. Their beauty lures one to spend the whole day at the site. The rocks present themselves in various shapes and sizes overlooking the river. The most interesting of these rocks include the Twin rocks where one rock is in possession of a male like reproductive organ while another one has a female like reproductive organ. The Baganda natives named them Salongo and Nalongo meaning the father and Mother of the twins and are covered with a bark cloth like how human being put on clothing to cover up these parts. A basket is perched in front of them where a sum is deposited before taking a glance at these unique rocks.

The rock tunnel


Following the viewing of Nalongo and Salongo, another impressive experience awaits ahead. The 4 meter trek in the tunnel like structure which is also believed to harbor a range of spirits is very rewarding. A sum is also dropped on the entrance and it is believed that whatever you ask for while inside you deinately receive it in abundance.

Island view

There is a magnificent island positioned on the other side of the River when standing on the western bank. The Island is asserted to be a boundary mark between Busoga and Buganda. The feature also offers beautiful scenic views.



Extending over more than 300km2, the Mabira Forest Reserve which straddles the Kampala – Jinja road about 20km south west of Jinja is primarily composed of moist deciduous forest in which more than 200 tree species have been identified. The forest is interspersed with patches of open grassland while several of the valleys support extensive papyrus swamps. In the colonial era, Mabira was heavily exploited for timber and rubber since over half a million rubber trees named Funtuma Elastica grow there, while its proximity to Kampala and Jinja led to an estimated 1,500 tons of charcoal being extracted annually in the 1960s.


During the civil war of the early 1980s, roughly 25% of the forest was cleared or degraded by subsistence farmers who were evicted in 1988. Since then, much of the degraded forest has recovered through the replanting of indigenous trees and illegal felling has practically ceased.

Mabira Forest is by far the largest remaining stand of indigenous forest in central Uganda not only of immense ecological value but also situated so close to the country’s largest cities offering great potential for recreation and tourist development. Certainly, the combination of accessibility, affordable accommodation, and good monkey viewing and lovely walking trails makes it a highly recommended stop over for any traveller with an interest in natural history. Large mammals are relatively scarce today though small population of elephant was present as the 1950s. The red tailed monkey is regularly seen in the vicinity of the camp however grey cheeked Mangabey and blue duiker are quite common. Leopards are reputedly present but unlikely to be seen. More than 200 species of butterfly have been identified in Mabira Forest.

Mabira Forest ranks as one of the most important orthinological sites in Uganda with more than 300 species most of which are forest birds recorded including several rarities. The excellent network of forest trails that emanates from the visitor center can be explored unaccompanied but you will benefit greatly from taking a guide whose knowledge of the bird calls will assist in locating more elusive forest species.

Conspicuous larger birds include the stunning great blue turaco and more familiar African grey parrot, while three forest hornbill species and a variety of colorful sunbirds are often seen around the camp. Mabira is one of the only two places in East Africa where pretty tit hylia has been recorded and this rare bird rare bird is seen here with surprising regularity. It is one of the few places in Uganda where the localized forest wood-hoopoe, African Pitta, purple throated cuckoo-shrike, leaf love, weyn’s weaver and Nahan’s Francolin are regular. One of the best individual birding sites in Mabira forest is a forest-fringed pond that can be reached by following the Jinja road east for 5km past Najjembe then turning left onto a small dirt road for a few hundred meters.


The Victoria Nile running past Jinja forms the boundary between the Kingdoms of Buganda and Busoga, the latter being the home of the Basoga. The Basoga speak Bantu language very similar to Luganda particularly close to the dialect of the inhabitants of the Ssese Islands though the Basoga claim a different origin from the Baganda and traditionally have less centralized societal settings.

Busoga is a cultural institution that promotes popular participation ‎and unity among the people of Busoga, through cultural and developmental programs ‎for the improved livelihood of the people of Busoga. It strives for a united people of ‎Busoga, who enjoy economic, social and cultural prosperity. It also continues to ‎enhance, revamp and pave the way for an efficient institutional and management ‎system for the Kyabazinga kingship.


Busoga, literally translated to Land of the Soga, is the kingdom of the 11 ‎‎principalities of the Basoga/Soga (singular Musoga) people. The term Busoga also loosely ‎refers to the area that is generally indigenous to the Basoga. Busoga Kingdom is composed of seven ‎politically organized districts: Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, ‎‎Mayuge, Jinja, and the newly created districts of Kaliro and Busiki. The Busoga area is bounded on the ‎north by the swampy Lake Kyoga, on the west ‎by the Victoria Nile, on the south by Lake Victoria, and on the east by the ‎‎Mpologoma River, Busoga also includes some islands in ‎‎Lake Victoria, such as Buvuma Island.‎

The Busoga Kingdom is ruled by the King with the title His Royal Highness Isebantu Kyabazinga of Busoga where by the title Isebantu is translated as a father of all people who brings all of them together and is their cultural head.

Dating back to the ancient Roman times, the history of Busoga still thrives up to today giving a contemporary person a chance to encounter the legends of the past. The European explorer John Hannington Speke from the Royal Geographical Society stepped at Rippon Falls near Jinja on 28th July 1862 with the intention to ascertain the true source of the Nile. He then followed the mystical river downstream without crossing to Busoga region. However, Speke notes that he was told that Busoga which is the Swahili reference of Busoga was an island. The land which is bound by Lake Kyoga in the north, Victoria Nile in the west, Lake Victoria in the south and Mpologoma River in the east indeed conforms to this ancient reference.

During the 19th Century, Busoga was one of the prominent routes that was followed by various travellers who were making their attempt in Uganda including; John Speke and James Grant, Sir Gerald Portal, F.D Lugard, J.R. Macdonald, and Bishop Tucker and these people noted that the area was had a plenty of food. However in the year 1898–99 and 1900-‎‎01 the sleeping sickness epidemic broke out. In the year 1906, the people were told to evacuate the area and regardless of the efforts to clear the area, the epidemic continued up to 1910.

Due to this, the region which had 200,000 people in the 19th Century was unfortunately cleared of population in 10 years and by 1910 the southern region of Busoga was empty. In the years 1920s and 1930s, the survivors of the epidemic started returning to their ancestral land. Unfortunately in 1940 the outbreak again resurfaced in the area and in 1956 a resettlement programme aided by the government began. However things could not flow as usual and the few Basoga returned to their homeland.

Regarding the political history of Busoga Kingdom, the turn was made in the 16th Century with the arrival of the ‎‎ ‎‎Baisengobi clan from the more established Kingdom of Bunyoro. The Prince Mukama Namutukula arrived in Busoga following the Bunyoro’s expansionist strategy and he trekked across the swamps of Lake Kyoga along with his wife Nawudo and a couple of servants, a dog and arms. They landed at Iyingo in the present day Kamuli District in the north of Busoga.

‎The Prince produced many children whom at the time of retreating to Bunyoro distributed across the region of Busoga as chiefs something that the colonialist were to find in the late 19th Century and merge into a federation. Prior the 1906, the Busoga could function as a Kingdom like its neighbor Buganda. Before the coming of the British to Uganda, there was no uniting leadership in ‎Busoga. The British colonialists appointed Semei Kakungulu a Muganda man to be the head of the Basoga Lukiiko but without the tittle of a King.

The Basoga could hardly pay allegiance to the Muganda head instead they respected more their traditional hereditary chiefs. The Lukiiko later collapsed but the Basoga had realized the beauty of having one head. The colonialists were grooming Chief Yosia Nadiope, the ‎‎Gabula of Bugabula to act as the initial permanent Musoga ruler of the Basoga but unfortunately he passed away in 1913 following Malaria sickness and this paved a gap for Chief ‎‎Ezekeriel Tenywa Wako, the Zibondo of Bulamogi who was finalizing his studies at Kings College Budo and in 1919 he was elected the head of the Basoga Lukiiko by the hereditary chiefs of the Basoga.

The title of isebantu was created in 1918-19 an in 1925 the Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, the Kyabazinga of Busoga joined the Uganda Kings Council which consisted the Omugabe of Ankole, Kabaka of Buganda, Omukama of Toro, Omukama of Bunyoro and the Kyabazinga of Busoga. The Ezekiel Tenywa Wako the Zibondo of           Bulamogi was officially installed as the Isebantu Kyabazinga of Busoga something that he maintained until his retirement in 1949 due to old age. By the time of his retirement, the Lukiiko had expanded to include other elected representatives with two from the each of the then 55 Busoga Sub counties.

With the retirement of Owekitibwa E.T. Wako, it was necessary to replace him and thus the Lukiiko resolved that the Isebantu Kyabazinga of Busoga will always be elected form the Baise Ngobi the Babiito hereditary rulers who were believed to be the five sons of the Prince of the King of Bunyoro who migrated into the area.

The subsequent Kyabazinga’s of Busoga include the Chief William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula, Henry Wako Muloki and William Nadiope Gabula who is the current reigning King.


‎‎Busoga Historical Sites:

Kagulu Hill

Positioned in the district of Buyende 30km from the town of Kamuli, the Uganda safari feature of Kagulu hill stands high above other ordinary hills at an elevation of 10,000ft above the sea level. Kagulu hill is such a stunning feature that any traveller on safari in Uganda would be gifted to undertake provided he/she is chanced to know about it. Traditionally standing with in the principality of Bugabula in the Kingdom of Busoga, the huge protruding rock has got a rich cultural significance to the people of Busoga as evidenced by the existence of the caretakers that have lived on its foot hills for centuries past. This Uganda safari adventure site is noted to have been the first settlement center for the migrant Basoga who the folks have it that they entered Uganda via the East.


The rock has got some disposition to the Chwezi heritage and sometimes the caretakers receive supernatural interventions from the hill top and get visions to share with other local people which would be a remarkable encounter if luckily encountered while on safari in Uganda. The Kagulu hill is such adventurous activity and climbing it to the top is by no means an easy activity particularly for the first time climbers on Uganda safaris. However, it such a rewarding encounter and can be incorporated as part of Jinja adventure tours, gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, wildlife safaris or Chimpanzee trekking safaris.

Upon reaching the hill top, the magnificent views of the waterfalls flowing down the rocks, sights of ancient caves that were explored by King Olimi I of Bunyoro in 1686 who used to seek sanctuary on this hill and the overlooking views of Lake Kyoga plus the meandering Nile River combine to appreciate your decision of including Kagulu hill while planning safari to Uganda.

‎Budhumbula shrine/palace

The Budhumbula shrine / palace is the residence of the former Busoga Kyabazinga Sir. William Nadiope Kadhumbula who passed away in the year 1976. The shrine has impressive Marbles has graves other royal family members including his mother and father Nakisombi and Yosia Nadiope.

Bujjagali Falls

The waterfall Bujagali held sacred by the local community is named after a powerful river spirit that has manifested its self in more than 30 successive human reincarnations over the centuries. Anyone who claims to be the new reincarnation of the spirit is required to prove it by sitting on a magical piece of bark cloth and drifts across the rapids. Only of he succeeds in this risky venture will local villagers accept him as their new spiritual leader.

The Last uncontested Bujagali died in 1970s unfortunately without nominating the heir and the identity of his successor has been a subject to heated dispute. Most Villagers believe that the spirits reside in a local Jaja who is said to have crossed he rapids on the magical piece of cloth while evading Amin’s military arrest during the infamous Amin’s era. The Jaja’s rival for the tittle is an outsider called Jackson who dreamt that he was the reincarnation of Bujagali more than 20 years ago. Jackson arrived at the village to stake his claim and assisted by a companion, he ran off with the magic bark cloth in order to float over the rapids. Before he could attempt the crossing, however, villagers caught him and killed his companion. Jackson was banished from the village to out his days on what is apparently known as Jackson’s Island.

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