04.28.2017 28 °C
Checking out of our hostel at 6:30 this morning was a struggle, but the driver from Adrift was ready to pick us up so we were on the road to Jinja bright and early. The sunrise was epic and I wish we could have stopped to take photos as the mosque and other buildings were making gorgeous silhouettes in the pink sky.
We picked up 4 others at Fat Cat Hostel, two from the states and two from the UK, all working together in Tanzania and taking a long weekend break together in Uganda. They were great to chat with and made the 2 hour drive feel not so long.
We arrived and were greeted by a fleet of awesome staff members. To my surprise they had a breakfast buffet lined up (after Josh had just heard me complain about not having coffee) so enjoyed that and we applied sunscreen multiple times before we had our demonstration. We had a great view of the Nile here at the starting point.
Our groups consisted of Josh and I, the 4 we picked up on the way, and then 12 Ugandan guys who work for a telecommunications company who were here for a team building day. During the demonstration when asked who can't swim, a surprising number of them put their hands up! They were all joking with each other and seemed like a really fun group, however we wanted to raft the good stuff (you can do "mild" or "wild" rapids) and so we decided we should get the strongest swimmers haha. The demonstration really brought to life the realness of river rafting though, and I got a bit nervous!
We got geared up and walked down to the boats on the Nile. Our new friends from the car were in another boat that was now full, and there we are with the guys who can't swim! After we tried to figure it out, the guys were like, you know what, we're here, let's go wild!! They were in so we all jumped in the boat together. It ended up being a blessing, these guys were HILARIOUS together and laughing and joking all day, we enjoyed their company so much. The other boat never seemed to laugh or cheer.. we definitely got the good boat!
Our guide Sauth, or his nickname Chicken Wing, was so happy and smiley I just loved him. He seemed genuinely happy to be guiding us. We were in the flat, calm, slow moving water and he was having us practice his commands. Like what to do when he says different things. Half the guys were joking around and he tried to reel us in as we were nearing the rapids. We then flips the boat to get used to that happening, and half our guys struggled to swim back, joked about not wanting to go, it was hilarious. There was this one guy who was the most scared and he kept nervously laughing it was SO FUNNY he had the biggest smile.
So we're not very close to the first rapid and we get in the boat and Sauth keeps reiterating his points. When we neared the rapid I saw why, we were headed down a freaking waterfall! Luckily their fantastic photographers captured all of our facial expressions.
Oh my gosh, it was terrifying. We're pulled off to the side to regroup and we already had an injury. Poor Allan in the back didn't hold on enough and he head butt Phillip's helmet in front of him, gashing a hole into his face just above his eye. Blood poured down his face and he went into the medic boat. He took it like a champ and after they taped him up they let him come back! We were worried the guys would want to go for mild rapids after that, but instead they basically said YOLO, and we nicknamed our boat Wild Allan, high fived our paddles and carried on! Some more pictures of the different rapids:
We had quite a bit of calm space in between rapids where we got to chat and even swim. It was such a nice day but I could feel it on my skin already, we were gonna be burnt after the day! At one of the next rapids we had 3 choices: Chicken Line, 50/50, or Bad Place. Pretty self explanatory, 50/50 your boat may or may not flip, Bad Place you're definitely gonna flip! We had to walk past the grade 6 rapids to get to them, and some of the guys chickened out and decided to get into the safe boat. One of the guys who wanted the safe boat got lost and walked too far. We watched the safe boat go by and I knew I hadn't seen him in it. Thank goodness we waited as one of the guys finally found him in the forest lol. But now he didn't have a choice but to come into our boat and go to Bad Place. In order to get there we had to paddle hard, and the instructions were once we were there and Sauth said, "get down" we were to throw our paddles away. If the boat flipped, we were not to stay with the boat, but to get air and then try and aim your feet downstream until a kayaker saved you. So intense! So we get going and Sauth instructs us to paddle hard, then he instructed us to back paddle, but all of the guys were screaming, Josh and I were near the front of the boat so we didn't hear, then we got down, chucked our paddles and were quickly ejected from the boat. I thought I was drowning, it was so intense, you can see the sequence of events here.
Then Josh looks for me and that's my little helmet under water there haha.
Once we all got back in the boat we got the real story - we didn't listen to instructions and we actually went down chicken line! It was an epic fail. We felt like we all almost died, but it was not supposed to be like that. AND the one scared guy managed to stay in the boat just smiling the whole time!! I guess when Josh got back to the boat he just smiled down at him and didn't help out at all haha. As the guys came back in, especially the ones who can't swim, they had some stories to tell! We're told if you're under water just count to 5 and before you get to 5 you'll be up for air (reassuring). Well Phillip tells us how he got to 5 and did not get air and it was so dramatic and hilarious! The last guy back to the boat couldn't really swim and he was totally it of breath. What a day.
We departed from our new friends as they all signed up for a half day trip and Josh and I were the only ones in the group to do a full day. It was only $15 more per person! So some of the kayaking guides had to come into our boat to fill the space, plus we had two kayakers and the safe first aid boat all just for us. We went down some sweet rapids and got to swim a ton.
Oh the last rapids the plan was, if the boat doesn't flip, just jump out and you can take the rapids on your own. Josh fell out, but I didn't and Sauth was yelling at me to jump. It seems like you're jumping to your death into these crazy Grade 4 rapids! But I did and it was so fun. We had such an epic day.
Afterwards they BBQ for you and have some beers. We bought some jewelry made by one of the kayakers to help get herself to the world championships. Then we were driven to our hotel, about 45 minutes through rural Jinja. We were tired but it was such a good day.
We checked into our hotel and it's INSANE here. The guy who owns it, we were told by one of the kayaking guides, is super eclectic and that it's decorated to match his style. It's insane but in such a good way - everywhere you look there is something cool and the property is stunning, with a small pool and crazy trees everywhere it feels like we're in a 5 star spa hotel in a jungle. Our room is massive and beautiful - it's by far the best place we've stayed on this trip. However once we finanly got checked in we got to see our burnt bodies. I have some pretty severe burns in some funny shapes because of my one piece swimsuit I wore! Josh and I both have very burnt legs as well. Ouch.
I'll take photos before we go, but there are tons of homemade lamps and light fixtures they're all so cool. Lots of stuff made with old bottles glued together. Unfortunately this morning as I write this over an amazing breakfast, it's pouring rain. It's our last place with a pool and we won't get to enjoy it! We also had free bungee jumping included in our package, an off season bonus we weren't expecting, and if it's pouring rain still I doubt we will head up there. But we'll relax either way before a long trip up to Entebbe and then an early morning flight to Cairo on Monday.