On our second day in Uganda we went white water rafting on the White Nile. The Nile River starts its long journey north as it flows out of Lake Victoria, just outside of Jinja, Uganda. This section of river has many intense rapids and is considered to be one of the best white water rafting locations in the world. After our day on the river we would have to agree. The 25 km trip included 11 serious rapids that ranged from Grade 3 to Grade 5. It was by far one of the most excited things we have done (and we have both been sky diving!!). Most people that raft this section have horror stories of all of the times they flipped, but all in all we had a fortunate day. We rode each set of rapids (which included several Grade 3, 4 and 5, and even a couple of waterfalls-one with a 16 foot drop!) successfully throughout the day, until we arrived at the last rapid of the day – Itanda (the Bad Place). To call this a rapid is an understatement. It starts when the river turns into Itanda Falls which is a huge Grade 6 falls that stretches across the river. The falls cannot be rafted (at least commercially, I’m sure some people have done it) but just past the falls the entire width of the river is still made up of churning, fast flowing white water that continues to flow for a few hundred feet. The water levels were at a point that it was unsafe to go through “The Bad Place” so instead we went on a Grade 4 rapid that runs directly beside Itanda called “50/50.” The name reflects that there is a 50% chance of flipping. For us it was 100%. As we went into the rapid we shot up a wall of water on our left side which pushed us a bit too high, causing us to flip on our right side, which threw some of us pretty much in “The Bad Place.” The ride itself was amazing and floating (more like crashing) through the rest of the rapid was an adventure on its own (even though it was the longest some of us have ever been underwater involuntarily). But in the end we found our way to the oxygen and had an incredible thrill.
The rapids were by far the highlight, but the rafting offers other benefits too. As you float down the river you pass by several villages of local Ugandan people. As we were using the river for an extreme adventure, we constantly saw locals on the bank using the river for more practical purposes like bathing, washing clothes, and for drinking water. It was a cool experience to float past villages and people that otherwise you would not be able to see. The river itself and the surrounding landscape is beautiful and the entire time we were going down the river (well maybe not the entire time, I am sure that when we were falling down Bujagali falls and some of the other rapids we had other things on our mind) we were amazed at the natural beauty around us and humbled that we were fortunate enough to have experienced it.
We do have to give a little plug for the company we used. If you ever in Uganda and want to raft the Nile, we highly suggest using Adrift. They were on top of things in every sense. They provided transport to and from Kampala (about 1 ½ hours one way), an excellent lunch on a quaint island in the middle of the river, and Adrift has an experienced and well informed crew that ensure safety down the river. All in all it was an unbelievable experience.