Afroween and White Water Rafting!

The past week has been full of truly unique experiences. Since the gang was feeling a little homesick about missing Halloween, we decided to dress up when we got to our lodging outside of Jinja. Our group, we are a creative bunch! Everyone had a really good costume (as you can see in the pictures in past posts). Our costumes may not have been exactly culturally appropriate, but we had a really good time dressing up! Of course, it was a little weird walking around our lodge because most Ugandans don’t celebrate Halloween, but it definitely gave everyone a good laugh.

Our original plan to celbrate the holiday was just to watch a movie on the communal television, but then the bartender told us there was a party going on at the lodge around the corner and of course we just had to go and check it out. We trekked up there and realized quickly that it was basically a mzungus only party. There were many foreigners around in costumes, getting pretty drunk. We stayed for about an hour and socialized a little, drinking our sodas and chatting with friendly strangers. I (Nikolle) even had a very interesting encounter with a local who was very much interested in getting to know me better, if you know what I mean.

The next day, we were all geared up and ready for a rafting adventure! Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the feeling that we are now able to say we went white water rafting on the Nile River! What an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. I wish that we had pictures, but of course that’s pretty much impossible in the water without a waterproof camera. Hopefully this post can do it some justice.

We spent the day in these large yellow tubes, big enough for about 8-10 people. My group’s guide was named Ryan, a 22 year old raft guide from New Zealand! He was super funny and a great guide. We started off by learning the commands like “forward paddle” “get down” and “hang on”. We also practiced a flip, and that first time in the water was a huge shock because the water was so… warm! I couldn’t believe how nice it was, we didn’t need wet suits or anything more than shorts and tshirt because the water was a bath!

Once we were out in the water, we had a great, relaxing time up until the first rapid. Going down it was totally exhilarating. It was amazing to feel that I was totally under the control of the water. I had no say over whether our raft flipped or not, which you would think would be scary, but it was actually a totally awesome adrenaline rush.

Most of the rapids were pretty tame, and we spent the in between time jumping into the water for a swim, but there was one rapid that totally owned us. Vengeance was its name, and flipping was its game. We approached straight on, not sure if we were going to flip or not. The first wave came crashing down on us and we narrowly escaped rightside up. The next wave took us all by surprise and boom! We all went under. I was the only one who let go of the rope. It was a little scary to be sucked under, but Ryan had prepared us well. I curled up into a ball and let the rapid spit me back to the surface. I was under for maybe 3-5 seconds, but I can’t be sure because it felt a lot longer than that.

Once I popped back up, the rescue kayak came and picked me up and brought me to the safety raft, where I was pulled up and then transferred back to my own raft. My heart was beating so fast, but I was totally ready to attack another rapid! At first glance, rafting on the Nile looks really dangerous, but it’s really safe in comparison to a lot of other higher risk activities out there. The Nile is super deep, 20 meters (60 ft) in some places and it doesn’t have a lot of rocks, so when you fall out of the raft, all you have to do is go with the current and let the water push you back towards the surface. There’s hardly any danger because the water will always bring you back to the top.

It was an awesome experience, and I’m so glad our group got to do it. I would love to go rafting again some day!

Uganda as a whole has been full of surprising and fun adventures. Everywhere I turn, there is a kind stranger or an art exhibit to visit. There is no shortage of wonderful experiences to be had. I’m so grateful for our time here, and I can’t wait to see what this country holds for us next!

My friends have posted many of our pictures of our most recent activities, so please look in the past posts to see what we’ve been up to!

Until next time,