The newly created Jinja City in the Eastern Region of Uganda was termed as the adventure capital of East Africa due to very many activities that one could engage in. Before the outbreak of COVID-19 and related restrictions on gatherings, it was also known for hosting the annual festival of Nyege Nyege.
I have been to Jinja over ten times but every journey there is clearly worth it. For purposes of my column today however, I will focus more on Bujagali Falls and Mabira Forest.
The Mabira Rain Forest covers about 300 square kilometres in between Lugazi and Jinja. On your way to Jinja from Kampala, it’s one of the very first tourist attractions you will meet and if you don’t stop over, in future you will start getting weird ideas like “LeTs CuT ThAt fOrEst DoWn aNd PlAnt SuGar.” I was rolling my eyes while I typed that. So make sure you stop over.
The age old natural forest has a lot of fun activities you can engage in as group travellers. I hope no one has ever thought about going to a trip alone, because I just imagined it and ewwwww.
You can do nature walks, bird watching, bike rides, monkey trekking and guided hikes or more depending on your budget and ability to spend. If you’re working with a strict budget, you don’t have to do them all. You can do one the first time, and keep the rest for when you return. Yes, once you go to Jinja, you can never have enough of it. You have to go back.
The thick green vegetation of over 200 tree species harbours very many animals like bush pigs, snakes, red tailed monkeys and blue duikers. The rain forest is also ideal for bird watching as it is habitat for about 300 bird species.
Uganda is really blessed, isn’t it? Birds like the African Dwarf Kingfisher, Forest Woodhoopoe, Hawks Eagle, African Piped Hornbill, Speckled Tinkerbird and very many others can all be traced in careful bird watching at Mabira Forest.
Then there is Zip Lining. This is the most adrenaline filled pumping zip line above the tree tops that you will get in Uganda. By far, one of the most thrilling activities I have ever undertaken. Like I said before, don’t go there alone.
For all the times I had been to Jinja, I have been avoiding Mabira Forest. This time I passed by the Mabira Rain Forest Lodge and oh my, this place is so beautiful! Yes, I have exclaimed. It is that beautiful.
The lodge is located in the middle of the thick forest, very ideal for anyone wanting to chill away from the noisy Kampala. It has well furnished rooms, a restaurant, bar and a swimming pool overlooking the thick vegetation.
It is not so far from the Jinja-Kampala highway, so even travellers can just access it for lunch or just normal chilling time.
The Old Bujagali Falls
The Old Bujagali Falls were a waterfall in Jinja where River Nile comes out of Lake Victoria and were sometimes considered the Source of the Nile. However, in November 2011, the falls were submerged by the new Bujagali Dam leaving the water levels low and calm.
We boarded a boat from the Nile Resort Hotel to the Old Bujagali Falls and the beautiful scenery on here as you view the green vegetation and the river is soul refreshing.
The place is commonly known by locals as a Site of the Spirits called Bujagali and many people go there to perform rituals and take gifts to the “Spirits” in the caves.