Rafting the Nile in Jinja

Rafting the Nile in Junja

The first rapid we went through, I felt pure adrenaline. We navigated it expertly as I dug in my paddle and we splashed over the waves. “This isn’t so bad” I thought, as feelings of euphoria hit me. Yet the first time our raft turned over, I felt pure helplessness. Thrown into the Nile, I was churned and pushed along the rapid. When I popped up, a ways down the river, I saw the rescue kayak headed my way. “Hold here” he said, gesturing at the front straps of the small plastic craft. He skillfully paddled me through the rest of the white water and plopped me back down in my boat.


I wanted to call my mom. However, we had a number of rapids left, so I merely held on for dear life. I was thrown into the Nile three more times during my rafting adventure. Each time I felt the axis of the raft shift into an unrecoverable slant, my mind went completely blank. I knew where I was going. Back into the rapids. So I let go and let the river take me.

Before coming to Uganda I had rafted a few rivers in the Western Americas; The Dechutes River, the Snake River, and the Thompson River, all of which contained sizable white water. But nothing had prepared me for the Nile. In North America, we tried with every ounce of our being to avoid being thrown into the river, and before the Nile, I’d never been overboard. Yet, here in Uganda, it wasn’t a matter of if, just simply a matter of when.

At the end of my rafting trip, we jumped in a calm section of the Nile to cool off. Half floating and half swimming to the pick-up zone, a buffet of foods and beers were awaiting us. It was the perfect ending to a strenuous day. Now when I head back to Jinja for a quick weekend escape, and watch videos of white water rafting that same adrenaline wells up in my stomach. I want to do it again, and at the same time, I will never do it again.

Rafting the Nile in Junja

However, for the somewhat wimpy, such as myself, it turns out we can have our cake and eat it too. ‘Family routes’, popular with children and those scared of going in also exist. Here Class 5 rapids are avoided in favor of Class 3, and overturning is avoided with care. For those who have a little more gumption, kayaking trips, where one can get truly personal with rapids such as The Big One or Nile Special, also exist. And for those who simply want to experience the river without doing any work at all (and I feel you here) motorboat trips up the Nile let you speed up through the rapids at a dizzying pace.

The two major players for these rafting and kayak trips are NRE (Nile River Explorers) and Adrift. Both have their own hostel grounds and campsites where you can relax and drink a beer with gorgeous views of the river. Adrift also has a bungee jump, where you have the choice of splashing into the Nile or not. However, if you do splash in, just be aware that black eyes occasionally occur, so it might not be best to do before a big meeting.

Bookings can be made directly with the companies, or can be arranged through hostels and tour companies in Kampala. Day trips work well for those looking to take a quick trip to Jinja. However, due to the early morning pick up, I found it much easier to simply travel to Jinja and arrange the trip in person.

The costs of such rafting trips aren’t cheap, and range from 100-140 USD depending on the raft you use (extreme rafts, which we used, tend to cost more). That said, you do get a fair amount of perks. All safety equipment is fitted and provided, transport and food afterwards is included, and a free night’s stay in a hostel room is also on board. A Wild Nile Jet speed boat costs 75 USD. An NRE sunset cruise will run you 45 USD, and a kayak lesson or trip starts at 75 USD. A number of combination packages are also available from both NRE and Adrift

So if you need a little shakeup from the everyday monotony of work and life in Kampala, know that the Nile awaits your splashdown. If you take the normal route, you will get to know the Nile from the inside out. You will see green bubbles swirl around your head as your helpless human body is thrust through waves and into calm pools. It is a rush, and it is amazing and it is terrifying. In all, not an experience you’ll want to miss out on while in Uganda.


Phone: 0772 422 373
Email: rafting@raftafrica.com
Website: http://www.raftafrica.com


Phone: 0772 237 438
Email: raft@adrift.ug
Website: http://www.adrift.ug

Kayak the Nile

Phone: 0772 880 322
Email: info@kayakthenile.com
Website: http://www.kayakthenile.com



About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at lizabeth@livinginkampala.com.