Travel

TOUR: Exploring the Fascinating Bujagali Cave, Jinja

Upon the creation of the 250 MW Bujagali dam in 2007, Bujagari falls were submerged. The Bujagali cave lies along the Bujagali water stream in Jinja.

The demise of the Bujagali falls also cost the existence of four islands, Namba, Mangeni, Namwoyo, and Kibuli, according to historical records. Each of these islands was named after the first person to settle on it. Namba Island, the former home of the spiritual leader, ‘Nabamba Bujagali’ was named after him.

He is believed to be the embodiment of the river spirit, ‘Budhagali.’ Namba island is also the former Bujagali ancestral site.

Otak Emmanuel, 20, a tour guide has lived along the Nile for the last 20 years and he is well versed with the area. Upon completing his senior six, he embarked on tour guiding to earn a living.

Among other spots of interest around the Bujagali cave are the Holland Park, Nile Nest and Nile Discovery (where the annual Nyege Nyege festival is held). The Dutch Architecture which showcases craft building using grass and wood is also another point of interest in the Bujagali locality.

The Cave

A closer look at the entrance into the cave.

The cave has 2 major hollow entrances, one at the bottom and the other slightly above it.

However, due to the increase in the water levels along the dam, the lower entry is submerged making the top one more ideal. Before it was flooded off, the lower entry was wide enough to accommodate structures the size of lorry trucks and other vehicles.

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The walls at the entrance of the cave are surrounded by Sodium Carbonate (salty rock). This is said to be used in bettering the skin once mixed with water and applied to the face.

The cave gets darker and narrower as one proceeds, and crawling might be resorted to as one goes deeper inside.

The floor where sacrifices are made by those who come by.

Bujagali, among the locals, is known as home to the traditional, ancestral gods and it’s no surprise that many who hold belief in the same, visit the cave from time to time to offer their sacrifices to ‘Jajja Bujagali’.

“We have our ancestral gods in this place. The whites worship Jesus as their God. Muslims worship Allah. Here, people also have their gods. The likes of Mukasa and Jajja Bujagari are worshipped from here,” Otak said.

It should be recalled that Jajja Nabamba Bujagari died at the age of 105 years in October last year. Originally known as Donozio Namunkanga Mukembo Zirabamuzale, he was the 39th spiritualist of the former Bujagali Falls.

The cave is said to have been in existence for as long as nature has existed.

The flooded lower entrance into the cave.

Covid-19 versus tourism

With the emergence of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, Bujagali has also seen a decrease in the number of tourists and the locals who periodically visit the cave. This, like is the case for the general tourism sector, has affected the earnings of those who earn a living from the various operations around Bujagali.

Otak said that the tourism culture among Ugandans is less and due to covid-19, Bujagari has been receiving a few tourists.

“The number of tourists coming to Uganda has really reduced. However, currently, Ugandans are the ones taking on the tourism activities, although the numbers are very few,” he said.

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