Contrary to reports by a New Zealand team of explorers that the “true source” of the River Nile is in the Nyungwe Forest, right here in Rwanda, the source of Africa’s longest and perhaps most important river has traditionally been known to be in the sleepy town of Jinja, ninety kilometers east of the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
The source of the Nile is sometimes considered no to be Lake Victoria, because the lake has feeder rivers the most distant stream emerging from Nyungwe in which the source of the Congo also emerges.
Away from the arguments, the site which British explorer John Hanning Speke beheld in July 1862. The Ripon falls that used to mark the departure of water from the lake into the river is covered wholly today courtesy of the Owen falls dam a kilometer or so downstream.
The falls were the natural outlet for Lake Victoria, until in 1954 the construction of Owen Falls Dam was completed, effectively extending Lake Victoria and submerging Ripon Falls.
Visitors to Uganda’s old industrial town can enjoy a boat ride right up to the point where source is supposedly located near an island on the right of the point.
You can enjoy delicious fried tilapia fresh from the waters with a variety of Uganda’s lagers some of which a brewed in the neighborhood from the river’s waters.
Hidden at the foot of the greenery of the famed Jinja golf club, the source is serene, the silence interrupted by the chirruping of the birds or the slow rush of the deceptively stagnant water.
The tour guides who double as lifeguards explain that due to the dam effect the source is actually the deepest area around and that anybody who fell in the water sinks fast due to the liquid whirlwinds peculiar of covered waterfalls.
From the source, the Owen falls dam can be seen with the naked eye while in the middle the old railway bridge is the only other link between eastern Uganda and the capital part from the highway atop the dam.
Across the recreational area is a pillar which marks the area where Speke stood when he finally discovered, as the first European, (Africans obviously lived there then) the source of the Nile.
While recently an iconic statue of Mahatma Gandhi, whose ashes were sprinkled into the Nile as per his wishes, has been erected.
The river is by large colonial era themed houses with big yards are a part of the legacy that the original developers gave the town, with quiet, tree lined streets giving ambience to the laid-back and warm welcome that visitors generally experience on arrival.
Apart from the towns quit ambience, it offers a clean unpolluted air away from the noise and dust of Kampala. Visitors can also take away valuable souvenirs as part of the traditional Uganda experience or frolic in the greenery of the golf club undisturbed.