Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Probably the best white water rafting on earth"

We saw this quote on one of the rafting guide's shirts, and after tackling the series of class 4 and 5 rapids at the base of the Nile, we'd have to agree! The rapids in Jinja are huge swirling masses of water, something like a gigantic washing machine powered by a jet engine. Unlike rapids we'd experienced before in California or Costa Rica, this is a high-volume waterway so you are not likely to get pounded against the rocks below, but if you do happen to get trapped in one of the massive holes, you had better hope the safety kayaks get to you quickly!

Our raft contained the two of us, 5 ridiculously silly guys from Basque and our guide, Paulo, a beefy Ugandan on the national Olympic kayaking team. They were a fun crew - maybe not the powerhouse of paddlers that we had been hoping for, but going over the rapids was pretty much a game of chance anyways. If you happen to hit the waves at the wrong time, the raft was flipping over no matter what you did! We flipped on more than half of the 12 major rapids we attempted. It was definitely a bit scary being hurled into the air and landing underwater, but it was also exhilarating!

We didn't actually realize how insane the rapids were until we watched the video that had been taken of the trip later that evening. People were being hurled like rag dolls out of their boats and into the raging waters below. One older gentleman got trapped under an 6 foot waterfall and we watched in horror as he struggled to get his head above water and catch a breath until the safety kayaks could get to him. Amazingly he climbed right back into the raft and finished the rest of the trip. I am not sure I would have been as brave!

Jinja is right at the base of Lake Victoria, and is considered to be the location of the source of the Nile River. It's a beautiful area, with lush plant life and many different types of birds. Even if you're not the rafting type, its worth spending a few days here to enjoy the scenery.

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