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Rafting the Nile: A thrilling wild encounter I will never forget.

White water rafting is one of the best adventures you wouldn’t want to miss out on mainly because of the thrill you get gybing through the thunderous waters of the River Nile. Here’s a personal experience of the feel I got as I traversed through the rapids and falls along River Nile.

Anticipating a wonderful adventure, I and colleagues woke up as early as 5AM to organise ourselves which included packing clothes, soap and refreshments.  

By exactly 6:00am, we were already in the bus that would drop us off to a rendezvous point, the Mandela National Stadium, where other tour company vehicles would pick us from all the way to the source of the Nile where our adventure would start.

During the ride to the stadium in the wee hours of the morning, we were all silent listening to the inspirational Simon Senkaayi on CBS radio, being a Saturday morning.

 Day break found us at our rendezvous point where we were joined by other tourists, most of them female, exciting the male colleagues I had travelled with.

Within a few hours, we were already at Jinja Adrift Resort where rafting was to start and we were welcomed by a smiley Allan Ubuntu together with his assistant Faith Kemi.

Allan and Kemi led us to the equipment store where we got items like helmets, Life Jackets, and peddles.

At around 9:00 am, we were divided into groups of 10 for each raft and given a safety briefing about how events would unfold in the river.

Our group leader would be a dreaded gentleman called Yusuf Mugabe who looked to be in his 30s. His dreadlocks couldn’t be missed by my eyes because of the love I have for such hair styles. 

Yusuf gave us a brief background about the rafting experience along the Nile, the different rapids we would encounter and their names, and that we would cover a distance of 60km on the river past 8 rapids and falls.  

My anxiety was now starting to turn into sheer fear with my heart beating faster only to be calmed down by the revelation that I was to sail right next to Yusuf the river expert.

After mastering what to do in case the raft flips, the back and front peddles, we set off for our first rapid called the Monkey eye. This one had a lot of rocks and the water moved faster here with a thunderous sound.

My colleagues in the other raft had flipped over already and some were in the wild waters struggling to get back onto the raft. I got more scared but I had already reached a point of no return. I had to move forward no matter what.  

Our boat soon engaged the rapids and fortunately went through without flipping which was fun. Smaller lifesaving boats were also around us with medical kits in case of any emergency.

We then— as soldiers on the battle field seeking morale— broke into songs to lighten up the mood and also listened to Yusuf during paused breaks as he told us about the history of the Nile as if he was around since time immemorial.  

We swiftly sailed through the other three rapids and were soon at the famous lunch Island where we were to have our lunch. The buffet was already done comprising of vegetables, beef, mayonnaise, and chapattis among other dishes. The meal was really sumptuous, food was in plenty that we ate and got tired.


At around 2PM when the sun was glaring fully directly above our heads, we were off to finish our journey. Four rapids still stood in our way to conquering the Nile.

We shoved our way through the rapids and flipped this time round which was scary and fun at the same time but the life savers on the smaller boats had our backs.

Our last rapid was called the Nile Special with over eight huge water waves. Yusuf told us that the flip was inevitable, and urged us to let go of the raft as soon as we were under water, which we did. This was dangerously beautiful and inevitably, I drank some cups of water while under the waves. The life jacket occasionally tossed me up for a gasp of breath.

The sun was setting by the time we conquered the final rapids and we were now near our initial set off point where we were welcomed from a raft well-done by beers and soft drinks.

We then checked into the resort which overlooked a calm section of the Longest River in the world where I saw the Sun kiss the water for the first time. The photographic memory of that beautiful sunset will definitely go down with me to the grave.

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Edgar Mathew Karuhanga is a Ugandan journalist who loves adventure and believes in living a life of purpose for his family and community.


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