White Water Rafting on the River Nile (Uganda)
M: On Saturday the 26th of November at 7:30am I boarded the Adrift bus to Jinja, which is the source of the River Nile. After receiving instructions, eating bananas, and putting on our helmets and life jackets, the group got into three rafts (nine people in each) and headed down the Nile looking for adventure and thrills. The trip consisted of some Grade 2 rapids, several Grade 3 rapids, a few Grade 4 rapids, and four or five Grade 5 rapids.
With my heart beating rapidly and my lungs gasping for air, I awaited the first rapid with apprehension. Early on, our raft tipped over on one of the rapids. I was tossed into the water with the rapids turning me every which way. I held onto my paddle but kept getting hit by another paddle which was being flung against me underneath the water by the rapids. Once all the confusion was over, I found myself out of the rapids and back in control. I made my way back to the raft. After this first episode, I knew what I was in for – a thought which did not console me. I quickly learned that our guide – an Australian extreme sport adventurer – was the leader of the groups (much to my reassurance: she knew what she was doing). She knew how to navigate our raft in such a way that we could command the river, the current, but most of all, the rapids (except for the last Grade 5/6 rapid which is ominously called “The Bad Place”).
We continued to make our way down the Nile River. For lunch, we stopped at a small island in the middle of the river where they had bread and sandwich toppings, juice, water, and pineapples. I stuffed myself and was (too) soon after told we were going back out. With a bloated belly, I readjusted my life jacket and tried to digest my food before it came back up.
The second half of the day saw long stretches of relative calm (with a slight current) waters. At such points, we got out of the rafts and swam or floated down the Nile. No piranhas and no crocodiles...
One of the worst Grade 5 rapids that I endured had a sort of ‘waterfall’ within it caused by the way the rapids dropped. We managed to keep our raft from tipping but the weight and force of the 'waterfall' made the paddle of the girl next to me smash into my right hand. I thought for a brief moment that it was broken and so did our guide. Feeling and movement soon came back to my hand but the bruising, cuts, and swelling remain. (I also realised when I returned to my hotel that I had somehow – I guess not surprisingly - pulled a few tendons in my right shoulder and had to wear a sling for 3 days). As I get older, I lose part of my wild and crazy and impulsive ways. However, I will always be “Melanie” and I don’t think those characteristics ever really leave you.
It was surreal to be in Uganda and rafting on the Nile River. Locals were washing their clothes and laying them on the banks to dry. Young kids were swimming naked. Cows were grazing alongside the riverbanks. Fish were jumping out of the water. Birds were resting on rocks or diving for fish. The sun was blaring and as hot as could be. The water was the perfect temperature. The rapids were fierce and unaccommodating. It was scary, nerve-wracking, exhilarating, soothing, adrenaline-flowing and memorable all at once.
Check out the photos, but I warn you, some photos may not be suitable for young and/or unadventurous viewers! ;) To see the photos, click here.