Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jinja, Uganda: Source of the Nile River

Leaving Uganda Lodge the next morning was super sad.  From Ruhanga, Jesse and I decided to head to the city of Jinja - it's a city a couple hours east of Uganda's capital of Kampala.

What It's All About:
Jinja is known to be a beautiful city with tons of outdoor adventure activities. Most importantly, it's famous for being the city with the source of the Nile River.  Water that starts here flows almost 6,700 km through Africa all the way to Egypt!  In Jinja, you can choose from a plethora of activities - from rafting the Nile River (most famous but will cost you an arm and a leg!), to biking, hiking, water sports, etc.  The town itself is also very safe and quite fancy.

The Nile River is surprisingly gorgeous - and perhaps mildly different than it looks in Egypt

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Took a 7+ hour bus ride from the school in Ruhanga to the capital city of Kampala - one of the most miserable bus rides ever (this is going to be a theme over the next couple of days).  There was no A/C, and they squish three people onto one side of the bus (which are like school bus seats, so highly uncomfy). After an overnight stopover in Kampala, we took a mini-bus the next morning to Jinja (3-4 hours away). Again, no bus schedules. You just show up to the bus station, they shove you onto a minibus, which involves cramming a person into EVERY possible space possible, and the bus takes off when it's full.  The mini-bus beat the previous day's bus for pure misery, as they had no rooms for our bags and we had to sit with them in our laps in an non-air-conditioned bus stuffed to the brim with people for the entire 3.5 hour ride. Buses in Africa, man - they may be making my love of buses slowly die.

On the way back from Jinja, we wised up and purchased a separate seat for our bags so we wouldn't have to face the same misery.

  • The next day, Jesse and I rented bikes and headed to a scenic overlook of the Nile River. The trip was, to say the least, a complete adventure. You ride along these red dirt roads with multiple potholes and rocks and such (I bruised both my palms and ass from bouncing along on these crazy roads for hours) - and then every time a car passes you on the road, it kicks up tons of dirt and sand and obstructs your vision and breathing.  My favorite part, however, was getting to ride past and through all the local villages: again, there were children who ran out of their houses to wave to us or shout hello as we passed. I seriously love how the children here are so eager to meet new people and use any English they know.

We were resting under this tree when this freaking adorable child came right up to me to stare at me curiously. He loved playing with my sunglasses as well - even when I hoisted him onto my lap, he sat happily and fiddled with the glasses over and over and over.

And here is the Nile River!! HOW picturesque does this look!?  Complete with birds perched on wood logs and everything. 

You could go swimming here, but it was looking a little swampy for my tastes, so I opted to take photos instead.

  • We biked a little farther to serious middle-of-nowhere territory (we were seriously pedaling down these super-tiny winding dirt paths by corn field and cows).

Jesse and I pedaling through some serious middle-of-nowhere villages and farms

Another gorgeous overlook onto the Nile

We ran into all these local kids, who were going for a swim/bathe in the river and invited us along.

Jesse is swimming with the kids in the suspiciously cloudy water. But really, the water felt amazing.
And some of these kids were legit bathing - throwing off all their clothes and soaping themselves up thoroughly, using rocks in the river to scrub their limbs.

  • We biked back to Jinja in the late afternoon - on a whim, we decided to go visit the actual actual "Source of the Nile" to watch the sunset.  I mean, it really just looks like another stretch of the river - but it's the source - and because of this, they actually gate off the area and charge you money to enter.  All right Uganda, you win this time.

We grabbed beers to watch the sunset at the source of the river. Jesse is appropriately drinking a Nile beer at the Nile River.

Sunset at the source is beginning. Here's the thing I can't figure out - is the source of the Nile just a lake?? Where does the water come from that it can continuously flow down the river to Egypt?  How is that possible? So many questions.

The sunset is halfway done! OR HALFWAY BEGINNING?

Annnnnd scene. It was GORGEOUS. Such a lovely end to the day.

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