Jinja Town in Uganda

Jinja town lies in the southeastern part of Uganda, approximately 87km by road from Kampala city. The town is located at the Northern end on the shores of Lake Victoria, near the source of the Nile River. Jinja town covers an area of approximately 28 square km. The town borders the districts of Iganga and Kamuli in the North, Mukono district in the South West, Kayunga district in the West, Mayuge in the East and Lake Victoria in the South. The town is home to the Owen Falls Dam, which regulates the flow of the White Nile and generates electricity to the town and other districts in Uganda.

Jinja Town
Jinja Nile Bridge

Jinja town is the largest metropolitan area in the district of Jinja, with an estimated population of 72,931 according to the 2014 population Census. The town is considered to be the capital of the Busoga Kingdom. The town is considered to be Uganda’s second-largest town and is a very pleasant place for any tourist to explore.

Jinja has a small civilian and military airstrip located in kimaka, about 4 km North of Jinja town. Chartered companies arrange flights to any part of Uganda, and these include; Kampala Executive Aviation, Eagle Air and Vine Air.

A brief History of Jinja

Prior to 1906, Jinja was only a fishing village that benefited from being located on long-distance trade routes. The origin of the name ‘Jinja’ comes from the language of Bantu tribes (the Baganda and the Basoga) that lived on either side of River Nile.

In both languages, the word ‘Jinja’ originates from the word ‘Ejjinja’ in Luganda and ‘Edinda’ in Lusoga, which means ‘Rock or Stone’ in English. In most of Africa, rivers like the Nile hindered the movement of people, thus explaining the ethnic boundaries along the Nile as one moves north from the river’s source on the Northern shores of Lake Victoria.

In 1906, the British colonial governor, Sir Hesketh Bell, proclaimed Jinja city, under the Uganda township Ordinance. This was because the town had grown from a fishing village into a fast grown business center that it is to date. In 1954, with the building of the Owen Falls Dam, now called ‘Nalubaale Power Station’, the Ripon Falls were submerged. Most of the flat rocks that gave the area its name, disappeared underwater as well, giving way to for the newly constructed dam.

It should be worth mentioning that on the 26th of June 2019, Jinja marked 110 years as a Town.

Climate in Jinja

Jinja enjoys a pleasant tropical climate, with temperatures varying between 200°C and 300°C. The town receives an average amount of rainfall at approximately 112.5 centimeters.

Jinja experiences two types of climate which are the dry and rainy seasons; with the month of March-May being the rainy season, with April receiving the highest rains. September- November is the second rainy season while from December-February and June-August are the dry seasons.

Economic Background of Jinja: Jinja is predominantly an agricultural district with a great deal of industrial activity taking place in its municipality. There are plenty of food crops grown in Jinja and these include; Bananas, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, maize, millet, cassava, beans, and Irish potatoes to mention but a few. There are also cash crops grown in the area and these include; Coffee, Cotton, and Sugarcane. Fishing is also done on the River Nile and Lake Victoria.

Health Facilities in Jinja: Jinja has 36 government dispensaries, 13 health centers at the county level, 4 health centers at the sub-district level and 2 government hospitals which are; Jinja Hospital and Kakira Hospital. However, there are other private hospitals like the Nile International Hospital which has modern and well-equipped facilities and highly trained staff.

Tourism Activities in Jinja

In 1996, tourism in Jinja gained great momentum thanks to the town’s numerous tourist attractions like the Bujjagali Falls and Source of the Nile. However, due to the construction of a new Hydro Power Station (Bujjagali Dam), water sport activities such as; white water rafting and kayaking ceased being done in the Falls. Not to worry though, these activities can now be done at Itanda Falls and Rippon Falls. There are plenty of tourism activities that tourists visiting Jinja can enjoy and these include;

  • White Water Rafting: One major highlight of a trip to Jinja Town is white water rafting. This activity offers visitors and experience of a lifetime. Rafting on the Nile will give you the thrill and send the adrenalin rushing through your body. The Nile offers up to grade 6 rafting but on a trip, you will only get up to grade 5. White water rafting can be done by all visitors of all ages. Grade 3 rafting courses, take from a minimum age of 8 years while Grade 5 rafting course takes participants from the age of 16 years. A full day rafting trip goes for 125 USD per person.
  • Boat Cruise: There are quite a number of companies, Lodges and retreat centers that own private boats and organize boat cruises for the pleasure of their guests. Some of the service providers for this activity include; Adrift, Jinja sailing club and Samuka Island.
  • Bungee Jumping: Nile High Bungee in Jinja offers tourists bungee jumping activities. Tourists can pay a minimum amount of 100 USD to jump from the bungee tower which is 44m high.
  • Horseback Riding: Horseback riding safaris provide the ideal way to see a traditional Uganda village, interact with the local people, explore the Nile up close and view the fantastic panorama from the hills overlooking the Nile River Valley. All horseback riding safaris are accompanied by more than one guide and groups have the opportunity to separate temporarily at certain points to allow more experienced riders to ride at a more advanced pace and those not so confident, to stay within their comfort zone. Horseback riding safaris range between 1-3 hours and require no experience necessary for one to ride a horse.
  • Mountain Bike Riding: Get to explore the Bujjagali area, search for birds and monkeys in Mabira Forest and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Victoria on a bicycle. Bicycles are available for hiring at Explorers Backpackers, Explorers River Camp, and Haven River Lodge. Visitors can either embark on a half-day or full-day biking tour.
  • Quad bike riding: You can drive yourself on a quad bike, through the surrounding villages in Jinja, Riverbanks, forests, and farms. Get to interact with the local people and see spectacular views of the Nile. Quad bike safaris are available for tourists of all ages with trips ranging between 1- 3 hours, as well as opting for a full day of quad biking. Do contact your trusted travel consultants in case you wish to have this activity added to your itinerary when planning your trip to Jinja.
  • Other activities that you can take part in while on your tour of Jinja include; white water kayaking, camping, River Boarding, Hiking, Golf, Fishing, Jet Boating, Sunset/ Sunrise cruising and birding tours.

Accommodation in Jinja

Jinja Town has a wide range of accommodation facilities available in case one needs to spend a night or two. These include;

  • The Haven Eco River Lodge: The Lodge is a luxury accommodation facility located in 20km Northwest of Jinja town. It has a variety of rooms offering guests stunning and breath taking views of the Nile. The rooms also have good features such as; walk-in bathroom with both hot and cold water running, large and comfortable beds, a work desk, ample wardrobe space, perfect air conditioning, hairdryer, and 24-hour room service among others. The Haven River Lodge also offers its guests luxury services like; massage treatments, swimming pool, camping, sunset and fishing trips, boat cruises, mountain biking, bird watching, kids playground, a lounge with DSTV, sunbathing and campfire area, pool table, table tennis, football, volleyball and badminton among others. So, for those looking to have the best while on tour in Jinja, the Haven River Lodge is the place to be.
  • Source of the Smile Guest House:  The Source of the Smile Guest House is a mid-range accommodation facility located in Jinja. The guest house is just a 5-minute drive from the Nile River and from Jinja town. The rooms in the guest house are self -contained with a hot shower and the rooms also have a terrace and lounge. Source of the Smile Guest House offers its guests a wide range of services such as; swimming pool with a relaxing area, well-stocked bar and lounge, free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free parking, room service and free ample parking space for its guests.
  • Surjio’s Pizzeria and Guesthouse: Surjio’s is a pizzeria and guest house located in Jinja. This accommodation facility has 22 bedrooms, 8 with a balcony overlooking Lake Victoria and one master suite. All the rooms are decorated and designed to give the guests the comfort they need. The facility has quite terraced gardens that are ideal for private meetings and relaxation. Guests staying at Surjio can enjoy services like; swimming pool, Laundry services, Free Wi-Fi and a lot more. Surjio’s Pizzeria and Guest House is located off Kisinja road in Jinja.
  • Other accommodation facilities in Jinja include Jinja Nile Hotel, 2 Friends Guest House, Nile River Explorers Backpackers Lodge, Jinja Backpackers, Adrift Nile High Camp, Wild waters Lodge, The Nile Porch, Otters Rock Cottage and Samuka Island Retreat to mention but a few.
Jinja Town
Jinja Town

How to Get to Jinja Town

Jinja Town is located 87 kilometers from Kampala City. The roads leading to Jinja town and even those within Jinja are tarmacked thus making the movement to and within Jinja easy. It will take one 90 minutes to travel by car to Jinja from Kampala, and 2 hours by bus or Taxi.

Travelers can also use motorbikes (Boda Bodas) as a means of transport around Jinja. This makes navigating the town easy and quick.

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