Raft the White Nile Before the Adventure Ends!
19 January, 2018
It’s mid winter here in the Kootenays and when our rivers are frozen it makes for the perfect time to mark that major item off your bucket list!!
The White Nile was one major tick that I got to put against my bucket list recently. It is one of the world’s best whitewater rafting/kayaking rivers and is located in the African city of Jinja, Uganda. It stems from one of the African Great Lakes, Lake Victoria and by no doubt this is a river that every adventure junky should check out before it disappears!
Unfortunately the future may see the rafting section of this river lost to the world. This is due to the fact that there are currently 5 dams in the works, 4 of which are currently proposed and the 5th already complete. The first dam was finished in 2011 and drowned out 4 massive rapids including the amazing Silverback section of the White Nile. Not only is The White Nile an experience that every thrill seeker needs to check out, it also employs a huge amount of local Ugandans and helps their economy by bringing in tourists from all over the world. If the following 4 dams are not stopped this will end tourism in the area and flood local villages! There are currently still 8 world class rapids on this river however the current proposal is threatening to wash out the bottom 4, including the kayaking Mecca the ‘Nile Special’.
Why should people travel from all over the world to visit this amazing section of White Water? On a recent trip to Uganda, my wife Terra and I were lucky enough to raft with Nalubale Rafting. This company was full of qualified professionals and made our first Nile experience amazing… so much so that we went a second day! Our amazing and exhilarating experience on the Nile started our African adventure off right.
The trips were amazing from the get go! To reach the start destination of your rafting adventure you travel through the Ugandan countryside, seeing how the locals live and farm. Upon arrival the guides will get you out on the water and begin safety training. This river is full of huge Class 5 high volume rapids which create some of the most breathtakingly spectacular rapid sections that I have encountered in my 15 years as a whitewater rafting guide. The first rapid you face is a Class 5 waterfall named Overtime! This rapid is a ‘hold on and hope for the best’ kind of rapid with a huge horizon line as you approach it and an amazingly fun decent down. It was a great way to start our Ugandan adventure and helped us wake up from our 34hr flight. This is a drop and pool river so you have a huge section of white water followed by flat beautiful paddle sections filled with wildlife before the next rapids.
The next rapids were Retrospect (Class 4) and Bubugo (Class 3). Three rapids down and still no flips!! Then you arrive at Itanda Falls, one of the most awe inspiring sections of river I have ever had the pleasure of visiting! The first part of Itanda is a Class 6 section which is impossible to raft so you portage this massive section of water and enter the bottom set of rapids. The size of the waves throughout Itanda are amazing, some reaching 40 feet high. Our guide, Ashiraff, gave us the option of doing the sneak line to avoid the “best” rapids but Terra and I had not traveled halfway around the world to do the sneak line. We pushed off and paddled as hard as we could to enter The Bad Place (Class 5)… and just as its name would suggest there was no way our raft was making it through. It spun us side ways and in an instant we had one of the biggest flips I have ever been a part of! After being underwater for a bit I popped up 20 meters down stream and enjoyed floating down through the massive haystacks of water. Suddenly realizing that I had not seen Terra yet I started to spin around in the water to see where she had ended up. As I spun Terra popped out of the water 20 meters behind me with eyes the size of dinner plates… I knew that she had gone deep and experienced a true rafting swim. It was this same moment I realized that I was in trouble as this was our honeymoon and Terra had never experienced a flip in rafting let alone a flip on one of the biggest rapids in the world.
As we all swam back to the raft, realizing that everyone was ok, we laughed at what just happened and knew this African experience was going to be amazing! We all got back in the boat and paddled a short distance down river to an amazing lunch spot high up on the side of the river bank. Lunch was amazing and it was great to get hydrated and out of the hot African sun for a moment.
Once we were fed and hydrated we continued on down river. We started this leg with Vengeance (Class 4), Hair of the Dog (Class 5), Kula Shaker (Class 5) and finishing the amazing day by hitting the epic kayak surf wave The Nile Special (Class 5). The Nile Special ended our White Nile rafting experience the only way fitting of such an epic day… with another huge flip! We all then just floated down the Nile until the take out point a few kilometres down stream. After the trip the Nalubale Staff gave everyone some refreshing bevies, including some delicious Nile Special Beer which was a great way to end the day.
Our experience with Nalubale Rafting and their amazing staff both on and off the river was world class This includes, Artha, their office manager who went above and beyond!
From my first day as a rookie raft guide my goal was to one day experience the White Nile and its amazing whitewater rapids, and I can honestly say that it far exceeded my wildest expectations. I was only able to raft the bottom 8 rapids due to the previously mentioned first dam that has flooded the first 4 rapids of the Nile. Without pressure on the Ugandan government (the best being through international travellers visiting and spending money to go rafting and stay in Jinja) the bottom 8 rapids may be lost and with it the livelihoods of countless Ugandans.
So go visit the White Nile and experience one of the best White Water Rafting Rivers in the world before it’s too late!
We hope we can go back soon!!
Categorised in: River Runners Adventures