When I heard that we could do white water rafting on the Nile river, I knew immediately that I had to go. I had no fears until one girl in the group said that a guy had drowned (he was revived) on her last white water raft trip, and another group member had said that a friend broke his leg white water rafting on the Nile. Suddenly I was going into the raft trip with some trepidation.
We got to the bank of the Nile, rafts all ready, life jackets and helmet on, and we listened to the safety lecture.
“We always get a lot of questions,” the guide said. “For some reason, people think Africa is dangerous. One question we get is ‘Are there crocodiles?’ The answer is ‘yes.’ We did not take them out.”
We then heard all of the things that may need to happen should we end up in the water. “This is what you do if the raft flips. This is what you do if you fall out in shallow rapids. This is what you do if you fall out in deep rapids.” How to not hit rocks, not drown, and hopefully get home with minimal injuries or deaths.
We then got into our rafts and practiced flipping, and being beneath the overturned raft. Despite realizing that it was quite easy to breathe beneath the raft, I was not eager to flip. Especially in churning water.
But we had practiced all of the safety measures, and we were ready.
Our first set of rapids was class 5. Rapids can reach class 6, but class 5 is the highest class possible for rafting.
“We are going to go through the rapid and then over the waterfall,” Our raft leader, Ysuf, said.
I thought I must have misheard him. Waterfall?
Sure enough, they were not easing us into this rafting thing. We paddled, with terror, up to the rapid, jumped from the edge of the raft down inside, and held on tight. Our raft tossed and heaved, but we made it through the rapid. Then we tipped over the waterfall, plunging toward the river below.
Our entire raft went underwater. But then we emerged. All still in the raft. We turned around and gaped at the waterfall we’d somehow just rafted over, and gave each other high fives. We rafted the waterfall. We were unstoppable.
The next rapid, a measly class 4, brought us back to the reality of how intense the river is. We jumped into the boat, held on tight, and our raft promptly flipped upside down. I managed to stay holding onto the boat. But half of our members went floating down the river, getting picked up by the kayak safety team and delivered to the nearest raft.
We got all of our members back in our raft, and everyone was laughing at the experience. It had not been as horrific as any of us had feared.
Between rapids were long stretches of still water. We removed our helmets, talked, laughed, and got horribly sunburned.
We reached one class 6 rapid, got out and walked around, then rafted the second half of the rapid which was class 5.
Our boat leader found a little hole of churning water for us to hit, and it sent myself and two others flying into the water. Our guide then proceeded to take the other 3 back onto that rapid, while we all waited for kayak rescues.
Another churning hole of water sent half of our members into the river, but I managed to hold on this time. One of the guys in our boat quite accurately commented that it was like being in the rodeo.
Overall, I’d say we ended up in the water about 50% of the time, but I never felt in danger while in the water. It was such a great day.
The same white water course is also done in a tandem kayak, and I wish I had done that as well. It would have been terrifying, but the kayak guides are incredible athletes. I watched them do somersaults through the rapids. If you flip, they flip you both back upright. Two from our group are going to do the tandem kayaking, and I look forward to hearing all about it.
I am going to use my free day in Jinja, the city by the Nile that we are camping near, to do some dry land activities as well. This place has mountain biking, quadding, horseback riding, and more.
It will be hard to top that white water raft trip, though. I can still feel the adrenaline rush. It was terrifying and exhilarating and some of the most fun I’ve ever had.