“You’re crazy, I like it, you will have a great time” these words still ring in my ears until today. In our 60-person group, who were mostly 20-something students and backpackers from England and the United States, I was the only person who couldn’t swim but I remember clearly seeing on the website swimming and rafting experience is not required so was not worried. The rafting instructor was amused and promised me a ride of my life – which I did get.
Those who traveled in groups grouped up and the rest of us bundled ourselves to groups of 5 – 9 per raft. “”Listen up folks” shouted the rafting guide “No shoes, no flip-flops, no necklaces, no nothing. If you don’t want to lose it, don’t bring it. If we flip over — and you will flip over — hold on to the raft. Now, who wants to go wild?” adventure filled yells of “Wild! Wild!Wild!” resonated across the air, little did we know what this entailed. Sadulu was appointed to our team which consisted of Mark – England, Thea – Norway, Elle – Netherlands, Sarah – USA and I.
The guide went through all the safety measure and briefing teaching us how to stroke, how to hold on and how to get back in the raft if we got tossed out, which actually took a lot of strength and always ended in a thoroughly undignified wiggle. It was a rather intense training as it involved literally getting into the water, tipping over the raft and popping up underneath so you wouldn’t panic should it happen on the fast moving water of the Nile. As much as it really did help, at that critical time I think I used 40% training knowledge, 50% instinct and will to survive and the final 10% was luck and the mercy of the Nile.
The wild route follows a progression of interestingly named rapids such as Big Brother, Hair of the Dog, Vengeance, 50-50 and, of course, everyone’s favorite, the Bad Place, the team members together with a guide paddle through the calm waters and through the rapids . The rapids mostly range between Class 3-4 rapids and the Bad Place being the craziest, scariest of them all at Class 5. To give you an idea “One is basically flat water, like a swimming pool.” Two and Three can be bouncy, 4 and 5 pretty tough. And 6? “Death likely” hence no Class 6 was offered to us 🙂
The hardest one is called Itanda (also known as the Bad Place), it is actually a class 6 rapid (grade 6 = drowning) and for this reason we had to get to it by land and by pass the grade 6 section. We then jumped back in the boat on the part where we could stick to the right side of the rapid, the part that equals grade 5. I looked at the raging water and couldn’t wait to be passed by this point; it was terrifying but exhilarating and satisfying!! But we got through all right, and it did bring some great amount of adrenaline rush.
Lea what was your experience like? Lea answers “There I was paddling in a relaxed state, enjoying the nice clear, warm and clam waters enjoying great views of the Nile, thinking how far this waters have come, how clean and litter free waving back at happy children as they wave and cheer us on. Before I realize it we had paddled about 3-4 km and the command came and I knew it was time, made my little prayer, increased my rowing to 50-60 movements to the minute, then the fall started, I could not tell what the near future held, I held on tight to the rope with the paddle tucked in well just like we had been trained and then it happened: The water came crushing, I was gasping, the boat was getting lighter and shaky, water was everywhere, my grip was slipping, I was not sure if to keep my eyes open or closed, so I did a little of both. It happened so fast, next thing I knew I had no idea where my paddle was and my only thought was I needed to get back up on the raft. I made it back to the surface of the water stayed in the “baby position” floated and waited till the safety kayakers helped me back on the raft.”
Would I do it again: Yes/Maybe/I don’t know- but I think if I did, I would not be any more prepared for that minute where all hell breaks loose and the line between fun adventure and Oh My Word what did I sign up for gets way to thin.
The first rapid is a grade 5, no warming-up, the serious stuff immediately. But we get through it fine, we flip but recover quite fast. We started off as 5 happy guests but finished as 4 troopers holding on to the ropes with all hope as the raft got lighter and flipping became more inevitable. Our 5th team member gave up and moved to the mild version. For the mild experience, you float down the same stretch of river, just with your guide steering clear, or trying to, of the most intense rapids. Initially there were no takers for this but by the end of the trip; many frazzled rafters had switched to it.
As we had signed up for a full day of this bad boy, the adventures takes you about 24 kilometers up the Nile, going through 8 rapids, including two grade 5 ones it involves. We did 4 rapids before making a stop for lunch then proceeding to the afternoon session where the excitement doubles up for the final 4 rapids. During the lunch they provide a lovely lunch including fresh fruit, salads, lunch meat and chicken where beer, soda and bottled water are included. It was time congratulate ourselves for the 1st half as we traded stories of adventures, who managed to hold on the hardest, which boat turned over most “ours for sure”, who dint fall in at all or who was thrown the highest in the air and the battle wounds to prove it all.
After the full day we chose to stay at the Adrift Riverbase that has nice basic rooms with hot showers to wash away your day aches just before heading to the terrace bar for a cold drink as you watch the calm Nile flow away. We stayed the night and I figured if I had conquered that, it was time to make the leap of faith (literally).
On the following morning we slept in, had an easy relaxed breakfast as we listened to shrills and screaming of those who opted to start their day with a touch of the Nile. The Nile High Bungee Jump is a 47 meters jump into the Nile operated in Jinja with safety standards equal to New Zealand’s.
Bungee jumping is one of those things that go against your body instincts. you body screams” you’re crazy, look down why would you want to jump, whatever you do, don’t jump” you mind says come on girl you can jump no ever dies”. The battle continues and on the countdown you feel yourself leave the edge and you know there is no turning back. I’d always thought of bungee jumping as a minute thing – you jump and bam done. No your tied up feet leave the ledge and at some point you hear the rope “break” well it doesn’t break (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post) but the sound it makes when the folded part straightens out sounds like a break. You then bounce a while whilst upside down before a guy on a boat rows to you and you need to catch his paddle for him to untie you and safely row you back to mainland.
I don’t know if I will Bungee Jump again but it was definitely a great memorable experience. The rush that stays with you almost 15 minutes after your back to the viewing deck can hardly be described but it is a rush of life.
Facts & Figures – 2016
Rafting and Bungee Jumping – Adrift Uganda
Full Day Rafting Cost- US$ 140 (Half day US$ 125) -East African Residents $100
- No swimming rafting experience needed
- Minimum age is 16 years
- Adventure soul required
Bungee Jumping Cost- US$ 115 – East African Residents $100
- Minimum age of 13 years
- Bungee Jump x2 (3rd jump free) $165 – Sweet for tat phobia killer or adrenaline junkie
Raft and Bungee Combo – US$ 195
- Budget – Adrift River Base – US$ 10 – US$ 25 per person on bed only (US$ 5 for camping)
- Mid Range – Source of the Smile – US$ 40 – US$ 80 per person on Bed & Breakfast
- Luxury – Wildwaters Lodge US$ 230 – 330 per person on Full Board
** When I did it they did not offer Bungee Jumping photography but now they do for prices as low as US$ 20.
To an Adrenaline High