White Water Rafting on the head waters of the River Nile
Well, I don’t think I have ever gone white water rafting, and definitely not on the river Nile! The name had such a moving effect on me. The longest river in the world, Moses was put into this river 3000 years ago (not here of course, in Egypt), the fact that this river was turned to blood around the same time (and probably only in Egypt). I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something spectacular about being here and on this river.
So, as per our experience so far, we got up early and on our way quickly so as not to be late…. and then waited on location for an hour for the crew and others to arrive. This time I didn’t mind so much. The view over the Nile was wonderful. I liked what I was seeing of Uganda today. No noise, smoke, fumes or hustle and bustle, just the serenity of a wonderful view out over the river and the landscape beyond.
When everyone else had arrived, we were offered a breakfast of pancakes with golden syrup, and some muffins. I scoffed them down believing I would need every bit of energy I could muster for the trip downstream. And I was right. We kitted up, took some photos (well, they did, because we weren’t allowed), headed down to the river bank and into the boats. Grace and I elected to be in the front, which meant we were responsible to set the rhythm of the rowing and ensure that we at least were in time with one another. I was really enjoying this so far. But then we need to go through the process of being swamped and getting thrown from the boat and how to get back in. That meant rolling the boat and getting wet. Why so early, it’s only 11.00am? Well that was easy – falling out, I just didn’t expect it to be so hard to get back in! But I was glad we did the practice runs, we needed them for later on. And, the Nile was beautifully warm at 11.00am!
We went through a couple of rapids before lunch and got well and truly dumped on one occasion. Half of us got separated from the raft but the support boats were there to pick them up. This trip involved some rapids and a lot of floating/paddling between them. This gave us the opportunity to look at the scenery but also jump in and just float down the river with the current. I was amazed at just how much water was flowing downstream at this early point in the river. And the water was low on what it could have been. At about 1.30pm we stopped for a beautiful lunch on an island which had an amazing view of the Nile downstream and also the next rapid we were to go through.
After lunch we attacked the rapid with exited anticipation and we got through this one unscathed. Having braved and conquered this one we again rewarded ourselves and took a swim or float in the Nile. I ended up getting caught in a whirlpool which scared the heck out of me. One minute I was with everyone else and close to the boat the next I was going around in circles and the boat and everyone else were about 50m away. There was a support kayak close by who paddled over and I grab the handle on the back of the kayak and he pulled me away and back to the boat. I think the colour of the Nile changed to a murky brown briefly.
From here we had another smaller rapid which we easily passed through and then a very lazy float to the next rapid. Just lying on my back floating downstream, watching the clouds and thinking. Yip, I do that occasionally and it was fun! I’d like to do it again sometime, not sure when though, I’d have to think about it.
The last rapid was a snorkler. Wow, we had the option of going the easy way, grade 2 I think, or doing a grade 5 with a 50/50 chance of being swamped. The general consensus was to do the grade 5 by 5 votes to 4. I was thinking later, yip, I did think again, that we should have gone for the grade 2. My my, we got dumped, I think most of us swallowed at least half the Nile each and I genuinely thought I was going to drown. Every time I came up for air, another massive wave crashed over again, and I panicked. Once again, a support kayak was close by and, coming over, he took my helmet off, and told me to hang onto the kayak strap. Slowly I calmed down, coughed up some water and began to breath normally again. For me, I was over the adventure. I was happy to be in the boat and I took the time to rest. We found out later that our boat guide had purposely dropped us into the ‘hole’. Well, I guess it was worth it for some.
No, actually I had an amazing day, white water rafting on the Nile River. If I had a bucket list, I would add this to it and then cross it off straight away. Done.
Sadly, our day ended on a low note. Two boys from the transitional home, which is the home to boys go to when first rescued from the streets, had got into a fight and one had just died from their head injuries. I had been brought back to the reality of the street/slum life of Kampala. What a way to bring me back to that reality.