I arrived to Uganda late at night to a smiling immigration officer and a speedy visa on arrival.
Travelers heading further afield than the capital, Kampala, often choose to overnight near the airport in Entebbe, an hour away. I selected Airport Guesthuse Entebbe run by nationwide outfit Gorilla Tours. Airport pickup took some time as the shuttle dropped off passengers and collected the various NGO workers also staying overnight. I was still undecided how to spend my sole day in Uganda and they gave valuable input.
Uganda has natural wonders radiating out in each direction from Kampala, however few are quick to reach. Roads are so-so with the requisite traffic jam engulfing greater Kampala. Scheduled flights are few. Murchison Falls National Park stood out to me, though realistically it requires a 3-day commitment and at most I could give 2. Minimum 4-5 hours each way and drivers do not like going out at night. The gorillas at Bwindi National Park are a 6-8 hour drive, and I already had a date with them across the border.
Entebbe itself has modest wildlife attractions and its place on Lake Victoria. I gave thought to taking it easy and staying in the neighborhood. Instead I charted a car and headed east for Jinja, one of the claimed sources of the Nile.
At the road requires transit of Kampala, an early start was essential. 6:45 am turned out to be too late to avoid the wall of traffic. The ride took 2.5 hours. On the midday return it stretched to 4. I hired a car for US$130 roundtrip as public transport would have been too slow to make my evening flight.
Jinja is renowned for adventure sports, particularly whitewater rafting. The small town is a nice hangout, and stocked with NGO workers. Church-run Source Cafe has lip-smacking passion fruit juice (and jam) and those NGO workers buried in laptops.
The Source of the Nile park was quiet on an off-season weekday. The landing has some cafes and shops, a few touts, and a Gandhi statue as one of the spots where his ashes were spread.
Boats can take you out the spot of a few ripples in the water that it the supposed spot. Birding is good and the boatman also pointed out a water monitor and an otter.
Across the river on the hill is the viewpoint where it was sighted with a monument and resident monkeys.
The park is sponsored by Bell Lager, not Nile Beer.
Bujagali Falls in north of town. A dam has ended the falls, though you can still buy a ticket.
In this series:
- Uganda Visa on Arrival
- Rwanda New Visa on Arrival Process
- The East Africa Borderless Visa for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda
- Burundi Visa on Arrival
- Tanzania Transit Visa Often Beats Tourist Visa
- ATMs in Uganda – Stanbic When All Else Fails
- Uganda and the Source of the Nile
- More to come…