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Riding Nile rapids is a thrilling affair

Tuesday December 01 2020
River Nile.

White water rafting is an adrenaline rush. The River Nile rapids are energetic and manoeuvring them is exhilarating. PHOTO | EDGAR R. BATTE

By EDGAR BATTE

There is no guarantee you will not plonk into the River Nile when the boat flips over. What you are guaranteed is that a white water rafting expedition is a mighty gush of adrenaline.

A water excursion got me journeying to Jinja, christened Uganda’s Adventure, in Eastern Uganda, for water rafting in Africa’s longest river.

Rafting is preferably a morning activity so the decision to spend a night in Jinja was a good one. By 9am, we were at the river bank, listening to lead guide, Charles Lutaaya from Raft Uganda.

His brief was on the dos and don’ts but most importantly, assurances about safety which was a great dose of encouragement to calm frayed nerves. I have had some swimming lessons but that nothing can ever prepare the mind for what a travel buddy described as a dare-devil expedition.

Adventurous spirit

Surprising though was the inner hunger to go out sail against the tide to experience what all the tales are about from those who rafted before us. Suddenly one gets mixed feelings cautioning against the restless adventurous spirit.

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When you envision yourself flipping out of a boat and into the wild white waters of the Nile, your heart thuds with uncertainty. I was assailed with thoughts of drowning in the rapids or gulping a little too much water or even may be even get smashed into the hereafter against the rocks.

Oh la la!

From the boat, the waters are a beauty, and the rocks are what the fast moving water hit to form waves and rapids. Soon we were metres away from the foam and I let my mind take it in, holding tight onto the safety ropes of course as our guide went over his routine.

I chose to focus on the moment as we sailed closer. We were told to stop pedalling and let the boat coast into the rapids, which made sense because there was no way we could pedal and hold onto the ropes simultaneously.

In the brief, Mr Lutaaya had told us to squat the moment we started our descent into the rapids. When the boat swayed towards the edge and down we went, hearts inside our mouths.

The wave hit us hard, with a splash wetting faces and bodies. The boat went in tandem once with the wave; now up, now sideways and then down.

In those split seconds, fear and excitement merged as everyone tried to shield themselves from the ‘shower’ of the mighty River Nile.

We had hit a level four rapid and it roared with such energy that sent my heart racing along with mental waves. In we went, and as soon as we hit the wave, it picked our puny vessel back and we splashed up and down.

As we emerged from the wet maelstrom, we needed a moment of recovery, but happily screaming and sharing high-fives despite wet faces and soaked clothing bodies. We were champions. Conquerors. None of us had flipped overboard! Beat that.

Amazing skill

Even if one had been so unfortunate, there was a rescue crew of agile and playful kayakers freely frolicking about the waters with amazing skill.

It makes you want to try the somersaulting, bend-and-jumps that they made seem so easy and effortless.

Relax. The Nile is a wide warm river with a huge volume of water but safe. We have earned time to relax before hitting the next rapids.

Until the next ride, but I am up to it.

Ugandans are charged Ush200,000 ($53) for a white water rafting expedition that includes tubing and meals.

For photographs, videos and drinks provided by Raft Uganda, you will part with $80. East Africans will pay $100 and foreigners $140 for the full package.

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