Archive for the ‘Jinja’ Tag

Rafting the Jinja Nile   3 comments

In the summer of 2009, while living in Kenya, a group of my friends and I decided to take a trip to Uganda to go white water rafting on the Nile River.  We hired a driver (something you have to do for long trips in Africa) and piled in for a fun weekend.  The first adventure was crossing the border from Kenya into Uganda.  In place of a formal currency exchange, your car gets mobbed by locals holding fists of bills and telling you they have the best deal.  It’s a bit unnerving, but we were warned in advance to expect it and the driver made sure we didn’t get ripped off.  Uganda struck me as being a bit better off economically than Kenya.  The roads were better, the buildings seems to be in better repair and people looked like life was a bit easier.

We reached the camp in Jinja later in the evening and after a few Tuskers in the bar, we settled into the bunks in our concrete rooms.  There were LOTS of mice scurrying around, but it was still fairly comfortable.

2009-04-18 Jinja Rafting Day 1 001 Stitch v2

In the morning, the adventure began with some safety instructions and a bus ride upstream to put in the river.  We first practiced flipping the rafts so we made sure we could all get back in safely.  All of us were fully aware that the river is home to thousands of crocodiles and other Nile creatures and appreciated being able to get back in the boat quickly.  We were lead by very seasoned guides who knew how to traverse the impressive rapids safely.  The section of the Nile we rafted has legitimate Class III through V rapids which can be extremely dangerous in most rivers.  The Nile is somewhat different.  It is so tremendously deep that even crashing down hundreds of feet over rocks, there is still a large buffer of water between you and the rock below.  I will admit that every rapid made me question my sanity for going on this trip, but looking back, I felt safe the entire time. 

Jinja Map

One notable part of the adventure was a large widening of the Nile about half way through the trip.  While our paddles had been used solely to steer where possible, the became our only means of propulsion across nearly a mile of water.  It didn’t help that one of our paddlers (who will go unnamed, you know who you are) was extremely lazy and did more harm than good paddling.  We did get a nice snack break where the guides pulled out their machetes and cut us pieces of the best pineapple any of us had ever tasted.  Most of us took an opportunity to jump out of the sun and float in the Nile for awhile while the guides watched out for crocs.  At one point, we passed a tree covered island that appeared to be the home of a huge flock of birds.  Our guide asked if we wanted to see something interesting and began slapping his paddle on the water making a loud smacking sound echo across the river.  The island erupted in a fury of wings as giant fruit bats began to circle in wide rings around the island.  The smacking sound apparently is very agitating to bat ‘sonar’ and makes them all take flight when they hear it.  If you’ve seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, those are the types of bats I’m describing. 

Check out the videos here if you haven’t seen them on my facebook page…

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150243016815661    http://www.facebook.com/v/10150243161685661

We returned to the camp exhausted but satisfied with a wonderful day exploring the Nile.  Our next surprise treat was actually the post rafting shower.  The camp sits on a cliff overlooking the river and carved out of the side of the cliff are two open air shower stalls that hang precariously over the river below.  While cold, a fresh water shower felt wonderful and I lingered for awhile absorbing the view.  It’s actually really enjoyable to stand naked under the flowing water and look out over such a beautiful skyline.  I did eventually notice while toweling off that there was a group of people far in the distance washing clothes on the banks and I briefly wondered if the locals had just gotten a show as my wet body acted like a mirror reflecting the sun.  I didn’t mind and I doubt they did either.  As night fell, we rallied outside the campground where a group of huts had been set up to sell trinkets.  I found a man selling wooden masks and had a look around.  One mask that caught my eye was a large gorilla with a long leather tongue.   As I went to inspect the mask, the tongue suddenly slurped up inside the mouth leaving me a bit puzzled.  The owner laughed, turned the mask around and revealed the large rat living inside.  His tail had been hanging down out of the mouth.  Of course, I bought the mask and left the rat there.

Our final treat of the night was two brothers who fired up the grill in their chepati stand and started selling us the fried dough as fast as they could grill them.  Stuffed with avocado, eggs, grilled meat and other vegetables, they were the perfect meal after a long day of exercise.  We all slept soundly and left Uganda the next day uninjured by the Nile and with fantastic memories.

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I MUST give credit for the bottom three pictures to my fellow explorer and amazing photographer Angeli Kirk (http://www.flickr.com/photos/angelikirk/)

Posted May 8, 2011 by chrislux in Travel

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