A sweet-pain water massage awaits you at Busowoko falls

Protruding from the water, this stone amazed me at Busowoko. 
PHOTOS / GEORGE KATONGOLE

What you need to know:

  • Water pushing my back was thrilling, but I felt it getting stronger and uncomfortable. My knees, which I always trust to walk an average of six kilometres every day, gave in. I sensed danger and cried out to the guide for help. 

I ended up at Busowoko rather unexpectedly, but left feeling relax and promised to go back someday. I had accompanied friends on a romantic getaway as a photographer and I took photos all through, while appreciating the white water falls at Busowoko.

I was told they are the only remaining falls, after the rest were flooded during the construction of Isimba dam. The thought of being massaged by water can be deceiving until you take the bold step to put your back against the aggressive mini natural waterfalls at Busowoko Eco-resort in Jinja City.

I was tempted to part with Shs5,000 for a 30-minute massage, just to feel the thrill. I was excited about it, but I owe them some change.

Before you drag your body to the water massage area, the waters look very deceptive. But do not be fooled. Actually never be fooled by water.

The guide took me by hand, warning me against slippery rocks. My heart raced faster than Joshua Cheptegei’s Olympic finish. I manoeuvered to the spot where he asked me to squat. The shallow waters were a warm up ritual.

He then led me to a basin-like spot, where the only option was to squat or at least bend my legs. There is only a place for two and I had to occupy the vacant position on the left.

From excitement to discomfort

Planting my legs firmly against slippery rocks, the guide’s first warning was to ask whether I had tied my pants tightly. Yes, I replied. He cautioned that the water could undress me and carry it downstream. And it was not a joke.

I started imagining how I could escape from the water naked in case nature took its course. I tightened the laces in the short once again. My red shorts held my body as if they had been glued to me at birth.

The water pushing my back was extremely thrilling, especially as I continued changing my body. I felt it getting stronger and uncomfortable. My knees, which I have always trusted to walk an average of six kilometres every day, gave in. I cried for help.

At first, the guide thought I was joking considering that one of the guests, an arm’s width from me, who got in earlier, was still cheering and asking someone else to take her video with the phone.

When the tone of my voice changed as I sensed more danger, the guide swung into action by swimming to rescue me. He took me by the hand to another spot just a few feet away, where the water was less furious. I did not feel comfortable going back and up to now, I cannot fathom swimming in such water again. I stayed for more minutes but I was very anxious to get out at the earliest opportunity.

When a dark cloud indicated a rain shower, I helped myself out and reached for my blue pair of jeans and the camera. I felt safer, rejuvenated and happy for treating my body to this massage.

A guest marvels at Busowoko falls. 

“We are lucky today the water level is high. Sometimes the water massage area is dry without a simple drop,” our guide informed us. You may visit on a day when the water levels are low with nothing to massage your back.

Dusty, bumpy and slippery road

 Busowoko is an attractive spot in an idyllic natural setting. But human activity is already encroaching on nature. This was not my first time at Busowoko, but it was the first time stepping on the soil that until 2019 was thought to host ghosts of the river.

I remember very well how we passed by these falls downstream. I recall those adrenaline-fuelled four hours that lasted forever. They say Busowoko is located about 19km from Jinja City, but we travelled for so many minutes and it seemed like forever. You can blame my ignorance on the bad terrain of the road.

But the waterfalls are only accessible via the dusty or sometimes slippery Kimaka-Budondo Road. We were safely driving, so I have no idea how much a boda-boda rider might charge if you are to use public means. I imagine it should be at least above Shs10,000.At the gate, the entry fee is Shs5,000 per head and if your car is dirty, like ours was, an auto wash can be done at a negotiable cost. But do not be tempted to drive it down, unless you trust it is strong enough to handle a rough terrain and a steep slope.

There is not much when you get to the main gate, until you pay attention to the roaring waterfalls and later watch the rushing waters. I gather it takes three months to get to its destination in case it is not tapped in Egypt to irrigate crops.

A habitat of mythical ghosts 

The scenic view is just perfect for photo opportunities and for nature enthusiasts, you will find it refreshing. With the rest of the falls including the mighty Bujagali, Busowoko is said to be the only place on the upper Nile that offers an aura of mystic attraction. This is why you should consider visiting before they become extinct.

Locals say the area was feared by many for the presence of ghosts, maybe the unknowns, and this could be the only reason that even the infrastructure is just being set up.

On arrival, the guides, whom we found idling around a young pine forest, were keen to interest us in tubing; an activity that involves floating on the river

They also mentioned water massage and white water rafting. “What is a water massage?” I anxiously asked. He pointed me to a sleepy spot and I lost interest immediately. It did not appear captivating. But once you are carried by hand to experience the massage, you will live to tell the story.

As preparations were being made for the recently concluded Nyege Nyege festival, rental tents were spread across the beach and each was available for Shs300,000 a night, during the three nights of the festival. Crossing a wooden bridge, he took us around for bird watching, but I figured he had little knowledge about birds. I identified an osprey nesting, two sunbirds, an African openbill, a lonely African darter and a wedge of egrets.

Fun activities

When we went to the rocky picturesque spots, where I took tens of photos for my clients, I particularly loved the view when they jumped and created an illusion of jumping into the rushing water.

Two rocks stood out for me; one painted in Uganda flag colours named Uganda Zaabu and another like a giant fish popping out of the water. You should be water confident and reasonably fit. Other fun activities are white water rafting, tubing, camping and you will be treated to fresh fried fish.

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