The Source of the river Nile is a world-famous site everyone has studied about in their geography classes and it’s on the bucket list of many curious adventurers. The source marks the starting point for the majestic Nile river which traverses 6852km across forests, mountains, plateaus, swamps, and desert plains all the way into the Mediterranean sea where it flows into.
The Nile river drains from Africa’s largest lake, Victoria, and this point is just 2km west of Jinja town and 80km from Kampala. During some boring weekends, I would take my time to stroll into this peaceful environment where I would spend many hours admiring the greenery setting while having excellent views of the Nile’s waters sparkling flashingly under the afternoon sunlight.
Myself being native-born of the area, I can’t remember how many times I have visited this place. I always came here during my school’s geography tours, on weekend private excursions, and sometimes I brought along visiting friends from abroad. The source of the river Nile has always been a special place so fond to me since childhood.
You’d love to hear the sounds of the singing birds and the chattering velvet monkeys which reside amongst the trees within this place. The monkeys are very playful especially close to the excited tourists and they keep swinging from one tree branch to the other. You’d certainly feel accompanied by them as you adventure this delightful place. Take your time to relax under the tree shadows while gazing attentively to the flowing waters of the Nile and imagine yourself sailing along to the Mediterranean sea.
The area around the source of the Nile is very serene with a variety of native trees dotting the surrounding Jinja golf course. You’ll also find that the area’s atmosphere is very cool with some gentle breeze from the running waters blowing across your face as you look on in astonishment. There are metal slabs that lay just above the waters and a small island with huge trees that hosts hundreds of birds but there’s a sign nearby warning against crossing beyond its point.
In the meantime, you’ll see busloads of curious tourists from across the globe streaming in. Once they are out, they’d quickly look for a perfect angle from where they would capture the best snapshots of the source. Others would have pictures of themselves taken to preserve the cherished memories b’se due to the costs, a few would return to visit. The main activities here include boat riding, picnicking, taking photographs and chilling by the riverside. There are local cameramen who can snap your photographs and process them for you within a few minutes.
Next to the source, there stands a statue of India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi who’s known world-over for his inspiring peace and human rights activism. The monument symbolizes the point from where some of his ashes were scattered into the river Nile as per his wish. The bronze glazed statue which is now revered as a pilgrimage site by Hindu faithfuls is maintained by the Indian community in Uganda.
After touring the source of the Nile, visitors can wind off at the nearby bars and restaurants like Rumours at the Nile, Speke’s Camp & Sporting Bar plus a few others. Here, you can order fried fish caught at the source and some of Uganda’s finest beers like Bell Lager, Nile Special and Club Pilsner which you can sip as you watch the rambling waters of the Nile. The source can be visited at any time of the day but for a spectacular spectacle, it is recommended that you visit in the evening to have an impressive sight of the sunset with the golden-looking waters as they flow their way to Egypt.
Experienced local tour escorts will offer to guide you to the source in their well-maintained boats in addition to educating you about the richness of the place. They’ll also take you to the exact spot (a small ghost island) rumored to be the separation point of river Nile and Lake Victoria. On the western side of the river, you’ll enjoy the serenity of the Source of the Nile Gardens which also host Speke’s monument that commemorates a point where John Speke stood to view across the river 158 years ago.
The source of the Nile is also ideal for a great African shopping experience. Local traders line the staircases down to the source selling some colorful hand-made cultural stuff like barkcloth-designed fashion wear, ornaments, traditional wraps, handicrafts, facemasks, stools, etc. Some shirts sold here have imprinted writings like “I was at the Source of the Nile” and these would make a memorable souvenir right from the source.
After touring the source, you’d need to have a relaxing night rest. All nearby hotels have rooms overlooking the Nile and this will give you a very fantastic nightly view of the river. Some of them include Kingfisher Safaris Resort, Brisk Hotel Triangle, Gately on the Nile Hotel and Living Waters Resort.
A few more are within Jinja town and it’s a walkable distance of 2km which takes less than 30 minutes to the source. Other hotels are upstream the river like the Jinja Nile Resort, Nile Village Hotel & Spa, Forever Resort and Nile River Explorers from where you’d do kayaking, white-water rafting and horseback safaris along the Nile.