Travel guide: Jinja – the adventure capital of Uganda!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Just two hours from the capital Kampala, the relaxed city of Jinja seems to be a completely different world. You will find hip restaurants, cool hotels and a whole lot of adventure here. In this travel guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about Jinja!


Jinja – the place where you want to stay much longer than intended!

Oh Jinja, how nice you are! After a far too long, late bus ride we arrive in Jinja, exhausted and warm. The first thing we do: order an iced coffee from Java Coffee House and enjoy their air conditioning. Sticky, without sleep and in travel clothes, we look around. It is clear that we are out of tune, being surrounded by a mix of yoga chicks, laid back surfer dudes, expats and stunning local ladies. The atmosphere is somewhat reminiscent of Ubud in Bali, a feeling that will continue to dominate the next three days.

Once in our hostel, we are warmly welcomed by the nice people of Jinja Basecamp who tell us more about the activities that can be done here. Jinja, which is at the source of the Nile, Lake Victoria, is the place to go rafting! And knowing Ries, he MUST do this (I myself am not such a daredevil and so let this activity pass). So, after a day of relaxing and exploring Jinja itself, Ries is ready for this adventure.

Although it rains all day, Ries has a great time! Fortunately, the Nile water is quite warm because the boat often topples due to the many difficult descents! As soon as that happens, however, there is always a crew member in kayak ready to get everyone back into the boat as quickly as possible! After a well-deserved beer at the end of the day, he returns to the hotel exhausted but cheerful.

We planned to stay for three days in Jinja, but on day three we are sad to leave. It is such a nice and relaxed place with cool coffee shops, a lot of other travelers and fun activities, we would have liked to stay here a little longer. However, the next part of our journey is waiting for us: a road trip through the rest of Uganda and Rwanda!Sunset nile


Fun activities in Jinja!

1. Class 3, 4 or 5 white water rafting

Well, after such a cool experience from Ries, rafting should be the number one activities in JInja. Ries booked the full day class 5 raft trip at Raft Africa, part of hotel Explorers River Camp. There are five rafters in each boat that are accompanied by crew members in kayaks. Ries paid $140 for a whole day including lunch, equipment, protection and a beer afterwards.

Class 5 indicates that there are difficult descents, with a relatively high chance of falling over, but Ries says that it is certainly not too difficult and that you are guided very well. If you find this a little too exciting, go for class 3 or 4. Are you looking for more adventure? Then choose the Grade 5 Extreme Raft activity in which you are rafting with just two people.

2. Nile cruise (sunset cruise / day cruise)

Even though I didn’t join the rafting trip, I had to see the Nile! That’s why I went on a two-hour Nile Sunset Cruise. Sipping from a Gin and Tonic (open bar + all you can eat) while spotting otters, beautiful birds and a beautiful sunset, this was a fun (though a bit overpriced) night. We booked this Nile Sunset Cruise at our hotel (click here for more information) and paid $ 45 per person (there is a combination deal with a $ 25 discount if you are also going rafting).

Another option is a full day of sailing on the Nile. For $80 per person, you sail at a chill pace to a beautiful rainforest. Along the way, you will spot all kinds of birds and animals and you can enjoy swimming, supping or kayaking. Lunch, snacks and drinks are included. Click here for more information.Nile Jinja

3. Suppen, Riverboarding and River kayaking

In addition to rafting and a Nile cruise, you can also go supping, kayaking or boarding on the Nile. The latter two seem to be very adventurous. Don’t feel like being active at all? At the Explorers River Camp, we saw two people in a hammock mounted on top of a surfboard and being pulled by a kayaker. Something very different, floating on the Nile with a cocktail in a hammock.

For more information about supping, riverboarding or river kayaking, click here.

4. Mountain biking in the Jinja area

As a true Dutchie, I cannot help but also place cycling here as an activity. In Jinja, you can enjoy mountain biking along the Nile, take a historical bike tour or go into the rainforest. Bikeventures offers different tours, you can go on a bicycle safari with them, but it is also possible to just rent bicycles. In addition, Bike Ventures is a social enterprise, with supports with the proceeds of the tours and bicycle rental, the COOP (Cycling out of Poverty) foundation.

Click here for more information and prices!

5. Stroll through the center of Jinja

Jinja is my favourite place in Uganda. It is a quiet and spacious city with lots of greenery. In the main street of Jinja (Main Street), you will find all kinds of nice and trendy restaurants. You will find The Deli and The Source Café here. In addition, this street is nice to walk around a bit, to visit a bookstore or souvenir shop or to walk all the way to the quay of Lake Victoria..stroling Jinja


Where to eat in Jinja?

  • The Deli: Healthy smoothies, wraps and tasty breakfasts. More than enough other travellers and a lot of healthy yoga chicks! That just sums up The Deli! Also nice, it has a small shop with international products, with for example the bread from Dutch baker BBrood (my favourite baker in the Netherlands)!
  • The Source Cafe: The hangout for expats with good wifi and tasty coffee. Includes a small gift shop. Prices are a lot higher than in local restaurants.
  • Java Coffee House: The Starbucks of East Africa. Tasty coffee, super friendly service and my favourite drink: the green smoothie with ginger (#yogachick ;-))
  • Gately on the Nile: This chic restaurant exudes Balinese style and seems to have delicious Thai and international dishes. Certainly, a place that we will visit next time!
  • House of Snacks: Our first experience with Ugandan cuisine and we are completely ruined. What do I say, in Uganda, we have not eaten as good local food as here. You pay 7,500 UGX (not even 2 euros) and for that, you get a buffet with all delicious dishes!

The Deli - Jinja


Where to sleep in Jinja

From campsites and budget accommodations to luxury hotels, there is something for everyone in the Jinja area. Below some places that we can recommend!

Jinja Basecamp €

jinja basecamp

We stayed in this centrally located, spacious hotel. You can camp here (in your own tent or hotel tent), sleep in a dorm or in a cottage. From 10USD per person to camp (including breakfast).

Boek nu

Camp on the Nile €€

Nile River Camp

This hostel is 9 kilometers away from Jinja on the Nile. The safari tents have a beautiful view of the Nile. You can also camp here or sleep on a dorm. From 45 USD per night for 2 people.

Boek nu

Kipling Lodge €€€

kipling lodge

With only five bandas and a beautiful interior, Kipling Lodge is the place to unwind. Including swimming pool. The food seems to be delicious here too! From $155 per night for 2 people.

Boek nu


Travel Blogs Uganda

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Travel Guide Jinja - the adventure capital of Uganda


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