Published: July 9th 2012July 8th 2012
Spent all day with Adrift, the original Nile rafting company, whitewater running the Victoria Nile starting from near its source in Jinja at Lake Victoria downstream (Northwards) roughly 45 km. It was loads of fun and got to meet some pretty interesting people. But, it was exhausting and took all day. I left the hotel at 07:30 and got back at 20:30.
The company was very professional, and delivered on everything they promised. From excellent guides, to breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a very safe but adventure packed day.
The bus came pretty well at the promised time for the 7:30 AM pickup. They had an ipad app for registration. Everyone registered while riding in the bus. No paper work! No messy hand writing to decipher. Don't know why I filled in marketing/anti-privacy fields such as age and email address which I usually leave blank on paper forms. I must have dropped my guard because of the novelty aspect of the ipad App.
On the bus I talked with M.. who is a Saudi ancestory, Pakistan born Swedish national working for a UK solar power company. His job takes him to the Congo and Somalia among many other
places. Next week he's headed to Goma for another mini electrification project. Hey! Those are war zones right? Well, yes and no he says. He was commenting he should prepare a set of Powerpoint slides to explain himself to immigration officers, especially in the U.S.! Yes, A Saudi on a Swedish passport, with a strong Swedish accent, with a passport showing stamps from all the standard no-go areas ...
We made several stops to pickup other rafters then drove East to Jinja, past several tea estates. Jinja is Uganda's version of Zambia's Victoria falls for adrenaline pumping outdoor adventures. After waiting for some bungeers to finish jumping before they joined us, we drove to the put in point and had breakfast, changed into swim shorts and a T-shirt, got a paddle, helmet and life jacket and got into the raft.
On the raft were A.. and E.. both originally from Washington D.C. but E.. is currently working as a consultant in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, while her friend A.. was visiting her from Washinton, D.C. Also, on board were Majors A.. and S.., Pakistani Peacekeepers serving with the U.N. in Eastern Congo. Our guide was Tutu,
who'd been with Adrift since they started some 14 years ago. We were later joined by Am... a woman trainee guide. After some standard safety instructions and practice paddling and flipping the raft, team Tutu paddled downstream.
The rapids are mostly class III and IV and the other boats all flipped at least once before lunch. We did not even come close to flipping. Sure we got wet, but all of us stayed in the raft. There were several river kayakers around us all the time to help with rescue when any raft flipped or rafters fell over. There was one set of rapids we portaged around, because it was an 8m drop and too dangerous to run in a raft. Most of the kayakers had fun running those rapids.
From time to time, we got to jump in the Nile and swim or float with the current. I couldn't believe I was voluntarily swimming in the Nile, after what happened in Egypt. While sailing on a Felluca down from Aswan to Luxor, I'd eaten 3 grapes washed in the Nile, and was sick for nearly 3 days! On the first day, all I could do to stop
the nausea was to suck on a lemon all day. I could eat only bland foods the next day, but had an upset stomache for two more days. Well, this was at the source of the Nile, before it gets all polluted and Bilharzia fied (Schistosomiasis). Egypt is at the other end.
Lunch was delicious and well timed.
There was only one incident immediately after lunch, when the guide fell over, but quickly got back on board, before most of us had even realized he'd fallen over. He lost his paddle though, and the rescue kayaks had to bring it back to us. Other than that, we managed to stay in the raft through all the rapids.
Then came the last set of rapids. The raft almost flipped over - it went vertical. Major A.. and I were the only two who stayed in the raft. Everyone else including Tutu, the guide and Am... the trainee guide, ended in the drink. It was scary, as the raft nearly flipped ... I threw my weight against the top of it to correct it, as I didn't want to end up underneath the raft as it flipped. The guide
managed to hold onto the safety rope before I helped pull him back on board. The rest were sucked under, cart wheeled, sommersaulted and turned every which way before the rescue kayaks got to them and directed them back to the raft. Good thing the yellow helmets were easy to spot. Once everyone was back on board, we realized it was a great way to end the day.
Yes. We were all exhausted. The U.N. peacekeepers felt it was a great R&R experience. The U.N. has regular supply flights between South Kivu and Entebbe. So, they just book a seat ... first come, first served. No flight expenses, no visa costs either, since they are on U.N. passports. They just pay for their hotel room and raft trip. So, now I have a standing invitation to visit Bukavu to see the low land gorillas.
There are more photos below