Whitewater rafting in Jinja, Uganda
30.07.2012 - 31.07.2012
View Grant and Helena's world tour on Grantandhelena's travel map.
Two girls to the hospital, another handful seriously bruised and as for the rest, we are all soaking wet and only lightly bruised. What has happened here? Ship wreck accident? Landslide in the rain? Nah, only white water rafting on the Nile.
Rafting in Jinja is exceptionally well organised. We went with Nile River Explorers and couldn't have been happier. When signing up to raft with them, they organise free transfer to and from Kampala, free or discounted accommodation in Jinja, free breakfast, snack and dinner. On top of that, you have a really fun-packed day.
We arrived in Jinja in the morning along with maybe 35 other keen rafters. After a security briefing and being given our equipment (helmet and life jacket) we were given breakfast and put on the trucks that would take us to the Nile. Once there, it was time to divide us into groups. We found some like-minded people, i.e. people who wouldn't mind getting wet! The guide on our raft, Bheem, was an Indian guy originally from Rishikesh. He turned out to be an absolute star, having all of us on the raft regularly in stitches.
Briefing before getting into the rafts
At first we had to practise paddling and to react quickly to the different commandos "left forward, right back!", "all back!", "STOP", all forward!, "faster, MORE faster!" and perhaps the most important commando: "GET DOWN!!!" where we would all get down and squat on our feet in the raft, holding on for dear life. We also had to practice getting into raft and hence had to jump into the river. That turned out to be another pleasant surprise for the day - the Nile water was nice and warm. We got the front paddling positions in the raft, meaning we were trusted to set the paddling pace, and we would also be the first to face the fearsome rapids.
It was time for the first rapid. We were told that it was not good to fall out here as it was full of rocks. On and down we went, followed commands and held on for dear life. The water was huge: falling down one rapid, only to face a mountain of water on the other side for the raft to climb. When we stabilised after the rapid we noticed that we were missing two girls - they had fallen off somewhere. They were brought back to us by the security kayaks that always were checking that everyone was where they should be. One Israeli girl had actually gotten stuck on top of a rock and had to actively jump down: we can't imagine how scary that must have been! An American girl managed to bruise her back on the rocks but they were both more or less ok. The same couldn't be said about some of the girls on one of the two all-American rafts. The raft actually flipped over and the girl ended up hurting her back quite badly. She ended up leaving to go the hospital to have an X-ray. Luckily everything was ok and she was on the same bus back to Kampala as us the next day. Note that she had been rafting on the Nile before and thought it so fun that she was back for a second day.
The first rapid
Luckily this first rapid turned out to be the "worst". There were no more injuries and for us who had been lucky in the first rapid, it just became more and more fun. We had to paddle quite a lot between rapids which turned out to be really nice - the sun was shining and we had an exceptionally nice group of people on our raft and the chat was great. We all ended up getting into the water (our raft flipped twice!) but it was only a little bit scary, we had a lot of fun that day. Our personal tally was Helena twice thrown out of the raft, and Grant three times.
Getting ready for the rapid...
..and here we go!
And this is getting rough...
...and that's Grant gone!
And in the last rapid...
...we were all out
After the six rapids, it was time for a Nile Special (nothing beats a Nile on the Nile!) and some food, before heading off to our hostel, a lovely camp situated on the Nile, up from Jinja. The location is beautiful, overlooking the Nile - can't beat that for a view. Most of the rafting crowd was there, enjoying beers and watching an extreme kayaking video in the bar, which we felt we all had the right to comment on after our day on the river.
View over the Nile
Our tent on the Nile
Jinja doesn't have a huge amount of other attractions but the next day we enjoyed some "Big Game Crazy Golf", dodging cobras and crocodiles and watched over by gorillas and tigers (what a tiger was doing in Africa was never clarified).
Big Game Crazy Golf in Jinja
After the physical exertion of Crazy Golf, we had earned a Rolex: Uganda's national dish, namely a fried egg rolled in a chapati. Delicious!
Time for Rolex