The Death Pit

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Explorers Backpackers
Explorers River Camp

Flag of Uganda  ,
Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn to head to Jinja. This is a small town a little over an hour east of Kampala. I actually came through Jinja on the bus from Nairobi to Kampala and it looked pretty cool and now I was getting the chance to check it out for 5 days. When I planned this trip over a year ago, Jinja was one of the places I was looking forward to the most. I made it there around 9:30am to the backpackers in Jinja town but I was staying at the River Camp 8 miles north at Bujagali Falls. This meant waiting for a free shuttle in 3 hours, or getting there the local way: boda boda.

Naturally I went for the boda boda. This was amazing. The feeling I got from that ride was pretty cool. During the course of my entire trip so far, this was the most I have ever felt like I was truly out in the world and backpacking. Driving down a red dirt/mud road in rural Uganda on the back of a locals 50cc motorcycle, with my backpack strapped on my back and my day-pack strapped to the bike. Little African kids waving to me as I went by, this was really backpacking out in the middle of nowhere. A pretty surreal experience, one I will never forget. 

I arrived fairly quickly to the River Camp and was pretty happy to get there. This is an amazing place. It is a campsite/hostel situated at Bujagali Falls, but it is high up on the riverside and has a beautiful deck that overlooks the mighty Nile. Pretty easy to spend some days here just enjoying the lush green countryside and beautiful views over the river. But lets be honest I was here for more than the view, I was here to get out on the river Nile to do some white water rafting. I signed myself up for the Sunday and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Sunday rolled around pretty quick and I was really excited to be up early and to get out on the river. This was a day I had been waiting for a long time. I wanted to do some seriously crazy rafting. I met some Swedish guys and a Canadian dude from Vancouver in the morning at breakfast and we decided to team up and all get together in one raft since we all wanted to do some of the crazier stuff on the river. The Swedish guys worked some magic and got us a Swedish guide to take us down the river who was happy to take us on some of the crazier rapids. His name was Anton, and I have since found out he is Anton Imler, one of the best white water kayakers in the world today, and he was definitely a chill guy to be rafting with. Anyways we had a really good crew and set out in the boat for the day.

The rafting was pretty awesome, there were 9 boats going on the day but only our boat and one other boat we're doing the tough rapids and taking the difficult lines through some of them. We managed to make it through all of the crazy stuff for the first half of the day, even Silverback, the biggest longest rapid of the day. So after lunch we told Anton we wanted to flip at least once on the day and he said he had just the thing for us. We started hanging out towards the back of the rafting parade and when we got to some rapids called The Death Pit we watched as the other 7 boats ahead of us took the simple way around. Anton had been preparing us for this one and said we were running it right down the middle and we were gonna hit it with the boat on an angle so we were guaranteed to flip but we tried to do it with some style and stay up and surf the wave at the bottom of the rapid for as long as we could. It didn't look like a very big rapid as we were approaching it but right as we were about to hit it we saw how steeply the water dropped and very quickly we were facing a massive wall of white water. We hit it a bit sideways like Anton said and we tried to overload the boat on one side to surf it for as long as we could but 8 guys and a 70kg life raft were no match for the power of the water and we soon flipped right into the giant undertow. Pretty hilarious, you go under and just go limp and the rapids spit you out about 5-10 seconds later. When I came up there was a rescue kayaker there within 5 seconds (these guys are good!) That was great fun. We all eventually found our boat and got sorted out and continued on downriver for some more fun. We dominated the rest of the rapids all day as well. The last rapid of the day, called A Bad Place, is where there is almost always more carnage and tomfoolery and we took the difficult line through that one as well, but we managed to skill our way through it as well. Fun to make it through but I think it would be almost more fun to get trapped and flip as those are really the highlights of the day. The rest of the night was spent having some delicious BBQ and beers overlooking the Nile back at the Explorers River Camp and checking out the video from the day of rafting. I will definitely be doing this rafting again when I'm back in Jinja in three weeks and Anton has already said we are gonna go for The Death Pit again. I'm pretty stoked for that.

I spent the next day just relaxing over the Nile again, and I walked down to Bujagali Falls and watched the rafters go by from down there. Monday night I grabbed a shuttle back into town to spend a few nights at Explorers Backpackers which is right in Jinja town.

This is also a pretty fun place and a good spot to hang out with other travelers, just minus the amazing view. I've had a couple of really good days here playing some pool tournaments at the hostel and I've spent the days exploring Jinja town and the market. The backpackers is about 1km away from the main road in town and it is always amusing to poke your head out the gateway of the hostel to the main road and see just how fast a guy on a boda boda comes up to see if you need a ride. These guys are like hawks, they just sit up the road waiting and they are lightning quick to fire up their bike and tear down the street towards you to see if you need a ride. I love catching the bodas into town and it only costs 50 cents so the guy that gets to the gate fastest when I poke my head out usually gets a decent tip from me after he drops me off in town. The boda guys are good fun!

My 5 nights and 6 days in Jinja have gone by very quickly and tonight I am heading back to Kampala to start a trip to Murchison Falls early tomorrow morning. I can't wait to come back to Jinja and tackle some more rapids though.

That is it for now.


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