Jinja and the River Nile

The age-old quest to locate the source of the Nile finally ended at Jinja, now the self-appointed adventure capital of East Africa where today’s modern explorers avail themselves of a veritable smorgasbord of white-knuckle activities.

Back in 1862, John Hanning Speke declared Ripon Falls to be the source of the Nile. Today, the laid-back town of Jinja overlooks this mighty river as it flows out of Lake Victoria, at the start of its 6,800-km (4,200-mile) journey to the Mediterranean. Thanks to a 1950s hydropower dam, Ripon Falls are now completely submerged; visitors can still view the official "source" in a 30-minute boat trip, but all that remains is a suggestive ripple on the water’s surface, so it can be rather an anticlimax.

The river remains the reason behind why people come, but for a cluster of adventure activities rather than a history lesson. An industry fueled by sheer adrenaline has sprung up around the Nile’s greatest asset: a series of dramatically churning white-water rapids that mark its course. White-water rafting is the main attraction, but visitors can choose from a smorgasbord of other thrills (and possible spills): kayaking; riverboarding; jetboat trips; bungee jumping; ATV safaris; horseback riding; and mountain biking. For fans of more serene outdoor pursuits, the "lake" of flat water at Bujagali, created by the recent addition of a second hydropower dam, offers stand-up paddleboarding, sit-on kayak trips, birding, and sunset cruises.

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Fodor's The Complete Guide to African Safaris: with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Victoria Falls

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