Sign Up for Our Monthly Explorer Newsletter
The headwaters of the Nile flow from Lake Victoria at Jinja, Uganda, as the White Nile River before its 4,200-mile journey to the Mediterranean Sea. There are several whitewater raft guides and outfitters operating near the town of Jinja that offer day trips down a 12-mile stretch of the White Nile River through eight world-class rapids with names including Overtime, Bubugo and Hair of the Dog. These Class IV and V rapids offer plenty of adrenaline for the adventure-seeking traveler.
We chose Adrift Uganda as our guides for the day. The company’s equipment included new Northwest River Supply rafts and gear identical to the rafts and gear you might find rafting the Colorado River in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park.
In addition to our lead guide South, who was in the raft with us, a separate safety oar-boat with three guides and three safety kayaks rafted with us. Our standard, full-day package included a photographer and a videographer in their own kayaks who went ahead of our group to film the spectacle of spilling over rapids and waterfalls.
On the morning of our rafting trip, we were picked up by an Adrift Uganda driver. When we arrived, we were fed breakfast during the safety briefing. After fitting our gear, we headed to the river for our first challenge, Overtime Falls, before passing over Itanda Falls.
As we approached the Bubugu Rapids, our confidence was high, which was a big mistake. Before we could smile for the videographer, the raft tipped, violently throwing me out of the boat.
I then began an exciting ride through the rapid on the underside of the raft. After popping out from under the water, one of the safety kayaks towed me back to the raft.
The rest of the rapids passed with the usual tips and turns, but no more unintentional swimming. A delicious lunch of panini sandwiches and fresh pineapple was served on the slack water stretch of the river, and cold beers were available after passing the last Class IV rapid, known as Nile Special.
Where to Stay There are many options for where to stay, from hostels in Jinja and the capital city of Kampala to guest houses and luxury lodges along the river. We chose the luxurious Wildwaters Lodge, located on Kalagala Island in the middle of the river. The main lodge has open-air dining and a natural swimming pool where clients can sit on the edge with their feet in the rushing waters of the White Nile River.
How to Get There Entebbe International Airport, Uganda’s main airport, is in Entebbe, about three hours southwest of Jinja. Driving in Uganda is far more hazardous than being hurled down Class V rapids. The best bet for clients is to hire a local driver through an in-country partner such as Giltedge Africa or use the Ugandan Pineapple Express airport shuttle service. The rates are reasonable, and clients will have help from locals who speak Swahili for on-the-ground logistics. In addition, clients should make sure their trip insurance covers both whitewater rafting and ground transportation in Uganda.
The DetailsAdrift Ugandawww.adrift.ug
Giltedge Africa Travelwww.gilt-edge.com
Lemala Wildwaters Lodgewww.lemalacamp.com
Pineapple Express Shuttle Servicewww.entebbejinjashuttle.com