Uganda and the Source of the Nile

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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.

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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.

Uganda Jinja Source Cafe

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.

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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.

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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.

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Bujagali Falls in north of town. A dam has ended the falls, though you can still buy a ticket.

Uganda Jinja Birds

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