Adrenaline ‘Junkies in Jinja'

Trip Start Jul 15, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Nile River Explorer's Backpackers

Flag of Uganda  , Jinja,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We arrived at the Forest only about 2 hours after departing Kampala. We hit traffic early on but it settled soon after and the road was relatively flat. We passed tea and sugar plantations before entering the Forest. The Eco Lodge was empty so we had no trouble with making a booking. We got a small hut with a rear porch and 2 benches overlooking a dense patch of Forest. Birds chirped in the background whilst squirrels climbed the trees and monkeys swung about the branches. We both took a refreshing bucket bath outside and then relaxed on the benches reading and napping. We ate freshly picked fruit salad for lunch and had some food prepared for dinner. Our time in the Forest was rather relaxed and therapeutic as we enjoyed the quiet sounds of the Forest undisturbed by traffic and slowed our pace to enjoy a nap. We walked along the pathway to our hut back to the main outbuilding and waited for our food whilst the sun set out on a cozy wooden decking. We ate well and slowly made our way back to our hut to rest with a lantern to guide our way. A few stumbles but nothing too serious and we were back, tucked up and settled for a deep sleep. The next morning we only had 30km left to cycle so we took our time to enjoy a coffee before leaving the Forest. Jinja was reached at about 10am after crossing the main dam that powers the entire town and we headed straight for the Nile River Explorers Backpackers. Tom and I haven't spent any money on tourist activities due to very low funds needed to stretch and last our entire journey but we knew we wanted to go White Water Rafting on the Nile as it is renowned globally. So we were recommended to take the full-day trip with the Nile River Explorers and that we did. It was only Friday when we arrived and places were still available for a busy weekend rafting trip. We booked onto the Sunday trip and spent all of Saturday repairing and cleaning our tired bicycles. The Backpackers offered great food and low prices and a comfy bed. We met many volunteers and tourists all passing through the Backpackers for an Adrenaline fix or a place to relax. We spent our few days before rafting with 3 in particular, 2 teachers from England now living in Uganda to teach and 1 traveler from Norway making her way from Kenya to South Africa. The teachers spoke fondly of teaching but were a little tired of the system back home as they taught in a challenging London school and came to Uganda for a change of pace. Sunday morning saw Tom and I up early and preparing for a day’s rafting. Life jacket and helmet assigned we grabbed our bags and jumped onto the truck waiting to take us to the drop-in point. It took about 1 hour to reach the Nile start as we bounced along bumpy roads through the local villages. On arrival the Rafts were dropped into the Nile and we were all briefed on what to expect. Grade 5 rapids and lots of toppling were among the points. Our Ugandan guide was Peter and Tom and I found ourselves with a Danish couple and a Canadian couple. We practiced paddling and preparing for heavy rapids which consisted of getting low and holding on tight then we set of for the first rapid… a Grade 5 plunge. Why start of steady? Peter handled the raft with expert control whilst we all paddled and got low for the rapid. It was a great rush being thrown about by the Nile’s powerful currents and one of many. The day wasn’t just an adrenaline rush we found time to jump into the Nile and let the currents glide us down the River between rapids and also enjoy some fresh pineapple at snack intervals. Our 3rd rapid threw us all out completely as a large rapid surged and battered the side of our raft. I felt the power of the Nile grab my legs and try to pull me away but luckily I managed to reach the raft and held on until calmer waters. The safety teams of 6 very skilled kayakers were on hand to pluck out the other’s that weren’t so lucky. It took 6 hours on the Nile and a distance of 35km to complete the day where we were greeted with our last rapid the 'Nile Special’. As we paddled and then drifted into the center our raft managed to battle the first surge but the second proved too much as we were lifted up and everybody was tossed back. I kept a strong grip on the raft and once it hit back onto the water I found I was the only one left inside, even our guide was flung out. I then braced myself for the following rapids as I watched everybody get dragged down the Nile in their life jackets. Peter decided to go in again with only 3 of us. It proved a battle to paddle against the side but we managed and threw the raft in again. This time we all held on tight and got tossed about with legs and paddles flying about but it was a success. We drifted to the exit point and collected Tom and the others still floating along the Nile. A delicious BBQ was waiting for us and a nice cold beer. Tom and I stayed at the Nile Camp that night with a beautiful look over the Nile River. Here we met 2 other volunteer teachers currently teaching at a school nearby. They are both in their final year of teacher training and were in Uganda getting a different perspective on teaching before graduating this summer. Tom and I stayed for one more day before heading back to our bikes at the Backpackers. We received a note from Sarah the doctor we met in Mpanda during our worst cycling stretch yet. She had decided to drive from Mpanda to here and came about some bad luck along the way. Her driver crashed the car along a dirt track and then the car broke down following radiator problems and overheating. Once she arrived and was preparing to relax she was put to work on a New Zealand man and the owner of the lodge she was staying at who had fractured his leg during a night of celebrations. We all got together for a catch up and will be heading into town to treat ourselves to a Curry later tonight. Today has been spent writing the last 2 blog entries whilst Tom took a few hours out to visit the volunteers teaching at their school and lend a hand. Tomorrow we will be back in the saddle again with only 600km left until we have completed the cycle. We have estimated it to take about 1 week to reach Nakuru and then we will volunteer for a few weeks before flying home. Jinja has really been a spot for us to enjoy some down-time and treat ourselves to some of the activities Africa can offer the adventuring tourist. However with a budget barely alive now we need to get back out and into the adventure before we find ourselves permanently stranded in Africa.

For those of you interested with White Water Rafting in one of the World’s best spots, visit the Nile River Explorers website for more information. Our day was a great success and with safety paramount within this Rafting company you can be guaranteed a great day. Highly Recommended!
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