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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Calling in at Ssezibwa Falls on the Way to Jinja

UGANDA | Sunday, 11 May 2014 | Views [900]

After Ravi’s excellent performance last time out we decided to test him a bit further with another trip to Jinja. Now we have been here quite a lot but we do love it and it makes a great weekend getaway from Kampala.

We always like to try to do something different or new on each trip, so this time our goal was to take in the Ssezibwa Falls along the way. If nothing else, the falls have a fantastic name! Heading off early to beat the traffic, we were soon on the Jinja Road heading east from Kampala. After about an hour we reached Kayanja trading centre and spotted the sign on the right-hand side for Ssezibwa Falls Resort. Now this all sounded very grand and my hopes for a brew soared. We drove down the dirt track for a couple of kilometres before branching right at another sign and came to the gate. We paid our 5,000 shillings ($2) entrance fee and parked up.

The falls were actually quite impressive; I think it being the rainy season helped to increase the dramatic effect of the Ssezibwa River flowing through a tiny passage on a rock face. It reminded us of a small Murchison Falls so obviously we dubbed it ‘Mini Murchison’. The small eco-tourism site contains a small pocket of forest and lots of birds were tweeting away amongst the trees. Unfortunately, the ‘resort’ was dilapidated and not functioning so my chance of a morning brew had vanished. Such a shame really, as if there were some decent bandas or facilities, it would be a great place to spend a day and night.

There is however a trail which takes you to the top of the falls and this gives a splendid view of the falls and the surrounding forest. As we sat atop of the falls we were looking down on a troop of red-tailed monkeys leaping around in the trees below us. How often do you get to look down on monkeys? After taking in the tranquil atmosphere, again we were the only people there, we headed off towards Jinja in search of caffeine.

As we hit the Jinja Road once more, the clouds gathered and the rain started to fall so we arrived in Jinja in the gloom. We decide to try a new place to stay and called in at Chel and Vade Cottages. They had a room for 100,000 shillings B and B so we took it. It wasn’t the friendliest welcome but the small room was pretty good and we had a balcony for if the rain ever stopped. We finally got our cuppa in their restaurant and watched the rain come down.

We decided to drive into the centre for lunch and headed for an old favourite, Ozzies Café. It does good grub at a decent price, it might not be as fancy as places across the road but it does the job. The rain finally ceased and we were able to enjoy the balcony and chill for the afternoon.

Late afternoon we headed to Mezanine for a sunset brew of a different sort! This is a lovely spot right on the river and they even have a pontoon you can sit on while you sip your drinks. It was lovely to sup a chilled beer while watching the incredible birdlife on the river. We spotted 4 types of kingfisher including a giant kingfisher while we were enjoying our drinks can you believe? We decided to stay on for food at Mezanine, but the sign promising Spanish tapas was a tad misleading. You could get burgers (beef or fish) or pizzas! We opted for the Italian fare and it was decent enough.

The next morning before heading back to Kampala and the Premier League shown down between our two teams, Man City and Liverpool, we called in at the ‘Source of the Nile Memorial Gardens’. Now there is a tacky touristy ‘source of the Nile’ thing on the Jinja side of the Nile but this was over on the other side.  You can get a boat across or drive round turning down past the Nile Brewery. We drove round and found another wonderful tourist site which is totally under used. It cost us 5 grand again to get in and once more we were the only tourists there.

This is the spot where Speke first glimpsed the Nile and declared it the source of this mighty river which heads up from Lake Victoria all the way to Egypt. The views of the Nile are incredible and well worth the entrance fee. There is a small memorial to the discovery and an informative information board. The grounds are very peaceful and we enjoyed wandering around and watching the ververt monkeys performing in the trees. There was a café with stellar views but once again the chance of getting a brew were minimal. These places really do need to sort themselves out. You could pitch a tent for 15,000 but again no facilities to speak of. If they built a few bandas and stocked their cafe, I’m sure they would have a successful business.

Ravi successfully made it to the source and back, and in quicker time than Speke managed! So longer trips await our trusty stead! Back in Kampala, we went to Just Kicking to watch the title race unfold. City won the league to my delight, Emma was a good sport and joined in the celebrations despite her team and Stevie G slipping at the final hurdle.


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