Defying Death, White Water Rafting on the Nile

I loved Rwanda, it was a beautiful country with it’s volcanoes covered with lushest green jungle. I wish I could have stayed longer, not just to spend more time with the gorillas, but there was so much more to explore. Next time I will definitely be climbing up Mount Bisoke, a volcano with a crater lake.

Selfie photo with volcanoes in the background, Rwanda

Goodbye Rwanda

My overland truck adventure is coming to an end; after another long 2 days drive, I had one last stop at Jinja in Uganda, the adrenaline capital of East Africa. I had grand plans of doing some volunteering work in a local school, but somehow after one bottle of Nile beer I thought it was a good idea to sign up for white water rafting on the Nile.


A grade 5, the highest level you can do commercially.

Double gulp!!!!

However, once the effects of the alcohol wore of, sheer panic kicked in and I started thinking shit have I lost my mind. I Skyped Ian, who managed to calm me down; and then after some frantic googling I found out Top Gear trusted Adrift, hence I decided to continue with my crazy plans.

Drinking Nile Beer

Let’s Go White Water Rafting!!!!

It was an hour bumpy drive to the start of the white water rafting.  On arrival we put on our helmets and safety jackets; and we were off down the Nile.  We started with some basic training; practicing rowing forwards and backwards; then the bit I was not looking forward getting tipped out.


Our guide made us get under the overturned raft, so we knew what it felt like.  It was not as bad as I imagined as there are air pockets.  However, afterwards I could not get back into the raft.  I pushed and pushed with my arms, but I could only manage to get 1 cm out of the water.  I was too weak.  I gave up on my pathetic attempts and instead a fellow rafter dragged me back into the raft by my safety jacket.

White water rafting crew, the Nile, Jinji, Uganda

The Crew

Surviving A Grade 5 Rapid

Training over and I could hear the roaring of the first rapid.  The guide informed us it was a grade 5, with a 4 metre waterfall , nothing like breaking us in gently!!!!  For once in my life I listened to Ian’s advice, which was do everything the guide told me to do.  I paid attention to every word the guide said.  When the guide told me to row, I rowed; when he told me to stop, I stopped; when he told me to row hard, I rowed for my life; when he said to get in the raft and hold on, I ducked down and held on for dear life.  By some miracle we survived the first grade 5 rapid in one piece and even more surprisingly, still sitting in our raft.  I did break one cardinal rule and didn’t hold my oar correctly, and I managed to whack a girl in the eye.  I was mortified, but luckily she didn’t bruise and I paid her back with a few beers that night.

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Nearly Drowning

We survived a few more rapids then we were not so lucky; even though I did everything the guide said, we were all flung out.  It happened so quick.  I was in the fast flowing river and stuck under the raft.  However, hard I tried to get up, I kept hitting the raft.  I couldn’t find the surface for air.  It was absolutely terrifying.  I thought I was drowning.  I think I was being dragged the same direction as the raft, so every time I tried to come up I was hitting the raft side.  Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, fresh air.  The terror still wasn’t over.  I was still stuck in the rapids.  It was like being in a giant washing machine.  Swallowing heaps of the Nile’s water.  I was pretty scared.  I remembered I needed to get on my back, so I rolled over.  Finally,  I felt in control and rode the rest of the rapid out on my back.  I was relieved to finally reach calmer water and made my way back to the raft, where I was dragged by my safety jacket back inside.

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Nearly Drowning Take 2

I wish I could report that I nearly drowned only once, but on the last rapid we were flung out of the raft once more and again I was stuck underneath the raft.  Again, I thought I was going to drown.  Eventually I managed to reach the surface, but this time I was stuck between the raft and some rocks.  The guide was riding on the over turned raft.  He was shouting swim away from the rocks.  He was absolutely amazing.  He acted very quickly and managed to pull me on to the top of the raft, along with two other rafters.  It was much more comfortable riding the rest of the rapid there than being stuck in the river washing machine.

After nearly drowning twice, I was over grade 5 white water rafting.  Way too much adrenaline for me.  I was very relieved to be back on solid ground.  I survived the Nile,  with only a few war injuries.  I have a few bruises under my arms from being constantly dragged into the boat like a beached whale; and bright red arms and nose due to my malaria tablets making me super sensitive to the sun.

When I switched my phone on I had multiple messages from Ian; on WhatsApp, Skype and text message:

“If you don’t feel good rafting don’t do it. It is very dangerous.”

Hmmmmm, very wise words, but a wee bit late now.

That night I did not sleep very well.  I couldn’t get the image of being stuck underneath the raft out of mind.  I defied  the Nile, but I am in no hurry to repeat the experience any time soon. Or even ever!!!!

Info: To risk your life on the Nile will set you back $115 for half day and $140 for a full day with Adrift.  I think you may as well pay those extra few bucks to get your full dose of adrenaline.   The mad photos were also courtesy of Adrift, costing $40.  It was an extra $30 for a video.

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