I spent my first weekend in Uganda visiting Jinja, the second largest town in the country, about 80km east of Kampala. Founded by the British in 1907 and formerly the industrial heartland of Uganda, Jinja is most famous for its Ripon Falls, identified by the British explorer Speke as the source of the Nile in 1862.
Today, there are a whole host of adrenaline-fuelled activities to try out, including white water rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, quad biking, kayaking and even horseback riding! I decided to take a rain check on these and come back with more energy, time and money in my pocket – maybe for a birthday weekend in March?!
Instead, I teamed up with another traveller from Denmark to visit the source of the Nile itself, roughly where Lake Victoria flows into the River Nile (not the only source of the Nile I’d like to point out, but good enough to charge 10,000 Ugandan shillings!) There were rows and rows of little craft stalls running down to the river bank, and every person I passed seemed to have a story for why they desperately needed my custom. There was also a group of orphaned children who were singing and dancing to raise money for their school fees (I’m wondering whether I will start to feel this ‘compassion fatigue’ any time soon).
I also sampled my first rolex in Jinja, a delicious and ubiquitous street food made from freshly cooked chapatti with fresh omelette, chopped onions, tomatoes, green peppers and finely sliced cabbage all rolled up inside. The traders at the Nile Backpackers hostel, where we were staying, had come up with the idea of adding different ingredients to make both savoury and sweet rolexes, so that evening I sampled one with vegetables and chips (yes, chips!) and one with banana, honey and nutella (yes, NUTELLA!)
I swum it off the next morning with a dip in the Nile (until I was rudely interrupted by the arrival of a water snake!) and treated myself to one more sweet rolex before the long matatu ride back to Kampala, where the traders haven’t yet cottoned on to this tourist magnet!