It lies at 2 50' North, 31 35' East, about 320 km (200 miles) in a direct line North-Northwest of Entebbe on Lake Victoria, and about 116 km (72 miles) by river below Butiaba on Lake Albert. The British built a government station there on a hill 50 to 60 metres (160 to 200 feet) above the Nile at a spot where the river narrows to 147 metres (482 feet) and attains a depth of 9 metres (30 feet). At this place was a gauge for measuring the discharge of the river.
Wadelai was first visited by a European, Lieutenant H. Chippendall in 1875, and was named after a chieftain who, when visited by Gessi Pasha (on the occasion of that officer's circumnavigation of Lake Albert), ruled the surrounding district as a vassal of Kabarega, king of Bunyoro. The region was annexed to the Egyptian Sudan and Wadelai's village chosen as a government post. This post was on the western bank of the Nile, below the existing station.
Here for some time Emin Pasha had his headquarters, evacuating the place in December 1888. Thereafter, for some years, the district was held by the Mahdists. In 1894 the British flag was hoisted at Wadelai, on both banks of the Nile, by Major E. R. Owen. Some twelve years later the government post was withdrawn. There is a village at the foot of the hill.
Winston Churchill described Wadelai as "newly abandoned to ruin" after a visit in 1907. A survey was made in 1963.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wadelai". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- The coordinates here are those from the 1911 Encyclopædia 2° 43' 60N 31° 23' 60E
- Iain R. Smith, The Emin Pasha Relief Expedition 1886-1890, Oxford, 1972
- Winston S. Churchill "My African Journey" 1908
- BRATHAY EXPLORATION GROUP EXPEDITION TO UGANDA 1963 RGS-IBG Expeditions Database