Rafting the river Nile

The Nile River is the world's longest, running from Lake Victoria in Southern Uganda up to the Mediterranean in Egypt. (There are some rivers, starting in Rwanda and Burundi, that feed Lake Victoria and are thus arguably the true source of the Nile.) It's impact on history and civilization is legendary, and, near it's major source in Uganda, it also boasts some awesome whitewater.

We had wanted to get down to raft for some time, but were thwarted several times. We finally decided that I (Eric) would go alone, since traveling with Ben and Maggie would be challenging, and scope it out for future family vacations. So, last week, I drove 4 Canadian Samaritan's Purse interns across the Ugandan border to the town of Jinja.

We stayed at a place called Adrift, which was the first company to ever raft the whitewater at the source of the White Nile (the Blue Nile originates in Ethiopia and joins the White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan, to the form the Nile proper). Their base camp sits up on a bluff, just a few miles from Lake Victoria, overlooking the river.
They had a nice open-air restaurant area, adorned with random collectibles as well as some very fun-looking monkeys, who were, thankfully, less aggressive than some baboons that I've encountered lately.
This little guy is perched on top of a kayak that made it's way from Lake Victoria all the way to the Mediterranean, and is now enshrined in the rafters of the restaurant.
The next day, I joined our 4 Canadians and 5 Brits to go rafting. It's often joked that Americans should sew a maple leaf on their pack to be thought Canadian when traveling (especially in Europe), in order to garner favor (or "favour" as it might then be). Let me say from experience that it's much easier to be mistaken for a Canadian if you just travel with 4 other Canadians.

What to say about rafting the Nile? My major comparison is to the Ocoee, which I've rafted several times in Tennessee. When I heard there were only 8 rapids and only 1 Class Five, I was disappointed. But, apparently I don't totally get the class system, since every last one of these rapids was on par or bigger than the biggest of the Ocoee rapids. Our raft flipped twice, and I had the exhilaration of swimming some big waves after flipping in the last rapid. There was a lot more flat water in between rapids, but that was also a nice chance to take in some more of the scenery, as well as to take some swimming breaks in the very temperate water.

After one such swimming break, I realized that I had lost my wedding ring. Many of you probably know that I lost the first one in 2007, playing volleyball in a lake in Michigan. So we made sure this 2nd one was as small as possible. It was generally very hard (and painful) to get off my finger, but somehow the water of the Nile combined with the greasiness of sunscreen and our lunchtime chapatis to work a little unfortunate magic. Alas. I'm glad Rachel still loves me. Here's the picture we bought of our raft heading down a nice little waterfall on the first rapid. We didn't flip on that one.
I'm sure we'll be back someday.


Uttz Family said...

Awesome Bud...I totally would have done that with you if I could have been there...Love, Mariah