Juba is the capital of South Sudan and one of the world’s most quickly growing cities. South Sudan is rapidly developing thanks to an abundance of natural resources, including the Nile River, dense jungles, oil and minerals, and these natural riches are bringing more and more investments in Juba every day.
The city is quite new, so there are relatively few traditional tourist sights. There are a number of interesting churches worth visiting, including the expansive Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the small but beautiful St. Joseph’s, the All Saints Cathedral and the hilltop St. Teresa Catholic Cathedral.
For entertainment, the locals often host dances. The traditional moves reflect life in South Sudan, including religion, farming, heroism, hunting, rain and chivalry. While in Juba, try to catch a show of the Dinka’s leap dance, the Nuba peoples’ kambala, the Miseiryah nuggurah, the Half’as barbabrah and the famous sword dance of the Beja people.
On the weekends, take a boat trip on the Nile, go fishing or cheer for your favorite football team with the locals at the bars.
One of the only local landmarks so far is Juba University. The large government-owned institution is open to visitors, and the on-site French Cultural Center frequently offers film showings, concerts and lectures.
At the center of the city is a bustling cattle market. In the mornings, you can spot herds of cows crossing town on their way to the market, and if you follow them, you will discover a vibrant atmosphere filled with lively conversations, delicious aromas and delectable local foods. Kisra is a Juba favorite. The wide loaves of bread are made with sorghum flour that has fermented slightly, and the thick slices are fried in cow brain instead of fat. Try pairing kisra with bamia, a dish of boiled beef, okra and other vegetables served with a thick peanut sauce.
There are a handful of good restaurants in Juba, including many Eritrean, Kenyan and Ugandan eateries. There are also a few bars that serve up East African and South African beers, the local gin and imported liquors.
Walking throughout Juba is safe, but the city is too big to explore on foot in just a few days. To reach your destinations, hire a public taxi van or hop on the back of a “boda boda” motor bike taxi. The exhilarating rides are affordable and fun.