IF you thought Bujagali falls is the most beautiful section of the River Nile, you havenâ€™t seen anything before you take in the little know
IF you thought Bujagali falls is the most beautiful section of the River Nile, you havenâ€™t seen anything before you take in the little know but breathtaking Itanda falls, 20km, east of Bujagali.
On a rock by the edge of the falls one is swept into the very heart of fascination, when three dramatic segments of giant rapids, come into full view. This section of the Nile has a character of its own and each segment exudes a distinct and spectacular view, that defers in the nature of ridges.
As the Nile meanders over a steep, rocky section, its water cascades from a height of about thirty feet, sending a thick mist of spray in air.
The sound of the thundering waters and the crisp freshness of air as the rapids deafeningly come splashing down, all gets heady, as you descend a narrow terraced footpath down stream.
A few harmless reptiles bask in the sun, while a giant monitor lizard lays prostrate on the surface of a white rock that props through the water surface, its yellow-brownish colour sparkling. At the shallow-end of the shoreline, a few yards away, is an algae-caked tortoise emerging from the water.
â€œThese reptiles regularly bask in the sun during the afternoon and serpents of invariable colours usually join the other reptiles in a spot of occasional of sun bathing. Those creatures are all harmless unless they are provoked,â€ shouts Nsubuga Kanale, the LC1 secretary for information for Itanda village, above the deafening roar of the falls.
Kanale knows every spot around the site, judging by his eloquent explanations and fast strides as he guides us around, during our visit. As he leads us through a narrow footpath, surrounded by over grown vegetation he adds: â€œTourists are at liberty to camp here at night, because their safety is absolutely guaranteed from wild beasts and thugs.â€
Because the riverbed here is steep and rocky, water flows very fast.
Kanale explains, â€œThe natural out lay of the river creates an unfavourable environment for wild beasts and reptiles,â€ he says.
Alex Mukulu the overseer of the place picks from Kanale and adds, â€œAlthough the section of the river here seem to be deep in the middle and relatively shallow at the shoreline, there are no crocodiles and hippos.â€
He says if the government invested in the falls, a lot of revenue would be earned and the local people of the area would benefit from employment.
The area is currently under the management of Butagaya. Mukulu, a native of this area, who is charged with the responsibilities of collecting revenue from the tourists says a paltry sh20,000 â€“ sh50,000 is collected per month. He says the place is only busy when they host tourists from foreign countries who are usually rafters.
Occasionally, the sub-county employs people to clean up the area by clearing the bush around the site since the meagre revenue collection does not permit proper maintenance of the site.
A handful of natives could be seen around the shoreline.
â€œThey spend long hours patiently waiting to catch fish with their hooks. A variety of fish that include Nile perch and tilapia, are the most common species caught here.
Itanda falls is located in Butagaya sub-county on Budondo Road, 27 kilometres from Jinja town. The deafening roar of the heavy rapids of the falls can be heard from a kilometre away. It is however interesting to note that hardly any tourists and picnickers know the site. But despite its expansive park, the path leading to the site is covered by over grown vegetation and in a pathetic state.
Several potential developers have visited the sight including the son of the late Mashood Abiola, a west African business tycoon who once aspired to become the President of Nigeria. But that was seven years ago. Last year, however, Sudhir Ruparelia also expressed interest in developing the site. But the natives fear that they would stand to loose if Ruparelia developed the site. â€œCurrently Ruparelia is managing Bujagali falls, but not a single person from the area has been employed at Bujagali,â€ says Kanale.
The thunder and crisp air of Itanda falls