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River Nile in Uganda

River Nile in Uganda

The River Nile is a major north-flowing River in the northeastern Africa flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. River Nile is the longest River in Africa and historically considered as the world’s longest River. Before this river was named the Nile, it was initially called Ar or Aur by the ancient Egyptians meaning “black” a reference to the rich dark sediment that the Nile’s water carried from the Horn of African northward to Egypt as the River Flooded its banks each year in the summer. The name “Nile” was baptized to the world’s longest River by Sir Hanning John Speke on 3rd August 1858 who derived it from the Greek Neilos or Nilus in Latin which probably originated from the Semitic nahal meaning a valley or a river valley. John Hanning Speke went ahead to discover the source of the world’s longest River making him the first European explorer to visit Lake Victoria and identify it as the source of the Nile starting its long journey in Jinja Uganda. About 6,600 kilometers long, the Nile’s drainage basin covers 11 countries namely Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. River Nile has two major tributaries namely the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters stream. However the Blue Nile is the source of most of the water of the Nile downstream containing 80% of the water and silt. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region beginning at Lake Victoria flowing through Uganda and South Sudan. The Blue Nile starts at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast and the two Rivers meeting at the Sudanese capital in Khartoum. This continues northwards through the Nubian desert to Cairo and its large delta flowing into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria. This river has been of significant importance to the Sudanese kingdoms and Egyptian civilizations that have depended on it and its annual flooding since ancient times.

In Uganda the White Nile leaves Lake Victoria at Ripon Falls in Jinja as the Victoria Nile and flows northwards for around 130 kilometers to Lake Kyoga. It continues westwards south of Masindi Port for around 200 kilometers before turning north to Karuma Falls. For the remaining part, it flows westerly through the Murchison Falls to the northern shores of Lake Albert where it forms a significant River Delta referred to as the Albert delta. After leaving Lake Albert, the Nile River continues north through Uganda to South Sudan and it’s referred to as the Albert Nile. In South Sudan, the White Nile flows south of Nimule where it is known as the Mountain River or Bahr al Jabal. The Bahr al Ghazal 716 kilometers joins the Mountain River at a small lagoon called Lake No after which the Nile becomes known as the Bahr al Abyad or the White Nile with the whitish clay suspended in its waters. After Mongalla, the Bahr al Jabal or Mountain River enters the enormous swamps of the sudd region where half of the Nile’s water is lost to evaporation and transpiration. The Nile River then meets with the Sobat River at Lake Kawaki Malakal just below the Sobat River. The White Nile then enters Sudan just below Renk a town in South Sudan and flows north to Khartoum where it meets the Blue Nile. The course of the Nile in Sudan is distinctive flowing over six groups of cataracts from the sixth at Sabaloka Game Reserve in Sudan north of Khartoum northward to Abu Hamad town. The Nile is then diverted by the tectonic uplift of the Nubian swell to the southwest for over 300 kilometers following the structure of the Central African Shear Zone embracing the Bayuda desert in the eastern region of the Sahara desert. It resumes its flow at Al Dabbah town northwards to the first cataract at Aswan forming the S-shape great bend of the Nile. The River enters Lake Nasser north of Sudan with its large section in Egypt. The Nile River resumes its course below the Aswan Dam at the northern limit of Lake Nasser. The Nile splints into two distributaries just north of Cairo to pour its water into the Mediterranean Sea that is to say the Rosetta distributary to the west and Damietta distributary to the east forming the Nile Delta.

Top activities to do on River Nile in Uganda

Adventurers and sightseers visiting the Pearl of Africa can explore the awe-inspiring and cosmic Nile River from two distinctive places in the country namely Jinja city which is regarded as East Africa’s adrenaline capital and Murchison National Park the houses the world’s strongest water falls known as Murchison falls. There are various adrenaline and venturous activities that one can decide to take on at the Nile River which include the following.

White water rafting

White water rafting in Jinja is one of Uganda’s best things to do while on a vacation in the Pearl of Africa. This is an electrifying activity that will send the adrenalin rush through your entire veins by teaching one how to remain calm under great pressure. The opportunity to do white water rafting from the longest River in the world is amazing. White water rafting in Jinja takes one in the middle of the River Nile while passing through turbulent and chaotic rapids. The River Nile rapids are graded 4 and 5 and thus offering the best white water rafting experience in Africa. Before participants head off for white water rafting, they are given orientation about safety and what to expect. This orientation is supervised by guides who are very experienced and knowledgeable about the area and water rapids. They also ensure that all rafters enjoy the best possible experience.

Jet boating and boat cruising

Jet boating is a must do adventure activity on the Nile River as one enjoys the amazing speed and races through the rapids, turning and spinning. This offers an astonishing experience while one is on a speed boat through rapids which is safe and fun. Boat cruises are also conducted along the River Nile in Jinja where visitors are given the opportunity to visit the actual source of the Nile. Along the Nile River, boat cruises are also conducted in Murchison Falls National Park upstream to the top of the Falls and downstream to the Albert delta. These boat cruises offer opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing where vast animals are sighted quenching their thirst on the Nile waters and wallowing along the River’s shores.

Bungee jumping

Bungee jumping is accessible at the Nile high Bungee Company in Jinja. This adrenalin activity is not for the soft hearted though it is fun and safe where one leaps off a high bungee tower standing at an elevation of 44 meters above sea level to kiss the waters of the Nile River. The minimum weight for one to take part in this activity is 35 kilograms and the maximum weight limit being 110 kilograms. Bungee jumps are conducted and can be organized at most times.


Tourists attracted to water sport activities on the Nile can take part in kayaking in the Nile’s water rapids. There are a multiplicity of kayaking activities that tourists can take part in for example the white water kayaking, flat water kayaking and tandem kayaking. The Nile River in Jinja also plays a role of hosting the Nile River Kayak festival which is a three day event during which top whitewater kayakers from around the world prove their strength, bravery and skills by taking on the most challenging rapids in a range of races and competitions.

Tubing the Nile

Tubing is a thrilling activity that involves floating down the River on an inflatable tube while enjoying and capturing the scenic beauty or the River and its surroundings. As one floats down the River, he/she is surrounded by several bird species, wildlife and green lush vegetation. This activity was therefore opened to tourism in 2016 becoming Uganda’s first tubbing outfitter and thus building excellent reputation for tubbing trips for people to safely float down the world’s longest River in Jinja.

River bugging

River bugging on the Nile River is a sport activity that involves rafting down the fast-flowing water of the Nile on a small inflatable single-seat craft known as a river bug looking similar to an armchair. This activity is run by licensed experts on a unique section of the Nile just below Kalagala falls. This activity involves one getting into small inflatable crafts with an inflatable tube on either sides of the user with an inflatable back-rest behind.one gets too sit in-between the tubes so as to be safeguarded into the craft using the waist strap.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is one of the exciting activities available for one to engage in while having a feel of the Nile. Visitors can take part in sport fishing activities and competitions by using several fishing methods such as the use of hooks, casting lures and use of live baits. This activity is done in Jinja and Murchison Falls National Park along the shores of River Nile. Fish types that can be caught during this sport activity include the Nile perch, tilapia, tiger fish and many more that may either be afterwards let free or roasted for a meal at an extra cost.

Quad biking

This is an adventurous activity that involves one riding oneself on a quad bike as he/she captures the beautiful scenery of the Nile River. There are many different routes that range from easy to challenging, technical and scenic depending on the capability and choice of the rider. Safety comes first since biking gametes are provided such as the biking overall, gloves, helmets, gumboots to mention but a few. This activity is stationed at the main gate of Bujagali falls on the eastern bank of River Nile near Jinja town.

Horseback riding

This involves enjoying the stunning beauty of River Nile, the actual rural setting of an African homestead, capturing several bird types around the River and many more. Along the shorelines of River Nile you will enjoy the scenery of Uganda’s geography while you learn about local cultures that give you a glimpse of a true African culture.

Bird watching

Once you are in Jinja, be sure to enjoy sights and sounds of beautiful birds along the shores of River Nile. The Nile is surrounded by thick forests which harbor different bird species for example green-backed heron, great blue turaco, Bruce’s green pigeon, Rock Pratincole, African Open-billed stork, white crested-turaco, purple swamphen, western banded snake eagle among other bird species.

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