Babuino Safaris

Source of the Mighty Nile

Source of the Mighty Nile

The World’s Longest River

The source of the Nile, alluded to hazily in the ancient writings of Ptolemy, stood as one of the great geographical mysteries of the Victorian Age.
The desire to uncover this geographic Holy Grail inspired the epic journeys of exploration undertaken by Livingstone, Stanley, Burton and Speke. And it was the latter, John Hanning Speke, on pioneering 1862-3 expedition around Lake Victoria, who first controversially suggested that a small waterfall northward out of the lake might be the legendary spring – a theory whose accuracy was confirmed more than ten years later by Stanley

Flanked today by the city of Jinja, the waterfall described by Speke now lies submerged beneath the Owen Falls Dam, Uganda’s main source of hydro-electric power. Still, a visit to the source of the Nile remains a moving and wondrous experience, no less so to those who have seen the same river as it flows past the ancient Egyptian temples of Luxor some 6,000 km downstream.
Closer to home, the Nile downriver from Jinja offers some superb white-water rafting and game fishing. Its crowning glory, however, is the Murchison Falls, where the world’s longest river funnels through a narrow fissure in the Rift Escarpment to erupt out of the other side in a crashing 43 meters plume of white water. The river below the falls is no less spectacular in its own way, with its profuse birdlife, thousands of hippos, and outsized, gape-mouthed crocodiles.

Today, the source of the Nile attracts thousands of visitors each year. Some are drawn by a sense of history; others are attracted by its geographical significance. All arrive reassured by the knowledge that exploring the headwaters of the Nile is a considerably more comfortable and entertaining process than it was in 1862.

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