Yesterday we said goodbye to the children at Caring Heart and Africa Greater Life orphanages outside of Kampala, leaving us with one last full day in Uganda before returning home. So today the team decided to travel north to explore the area around Jinja. The drive thru the Ugandan countryside was beautiful and lush, and dotted with fields of tea and sugar cane. Once in Jinja, the team split in to two groups, with one opting to explore the town of Jinja, take a cruise on Lake Victoria, at the source of the Nile River, and visit the rainforest, while the more adventurous chose to go whitewater rafting on the Nile River. I was in the latter group.
At 10am, we set out with our rafting guides in two boats, which were part of a larger day long expedition of six rafts total, on our Nile River Adventure. The section we were rafting consists primarily of class three and four rapids with 3 class five along the route. It was by far the most advanced whitewater any of us had ever done, and for some it was their first time, but our guide spent time with us in the calm water at the start of our trip going over the skills we would need to tackle the rapids ahead.
We made it to our first class five rapid before Kendra became the first Sweet Sleep rafter to go flying out of the boat, but she climbed back in soaked but smiling. Shortly thereafter we lost Stuart (rookie), John, Mike, and Madelene in the midst of one of the class three rapids, but they climbed back in the boat eager for more of what the river had to offer. Up until the last rapid of the day, Whitney and I were the only ones not to take a dip from a rogue rapid. All this time, no one from the other Sweet Sleep boat lost a single rafter.
The entire group of six rafts stopped for lunch at a small island in the middle of the Nile, where we were served an American lunch buffet style, complete with coffee, tea, water and juice to quench our thirst. Lunch was followed by several long stretches of calm water where we could get out and swim in the Nile River. Never in my life did I think that I would get a chance to do that!
One set of rapids after lunch had a waterfall with a 10 foot drop that everyone on the six boats in the expedition attempted to ride, but only the second Sweet Sleep boat with Meghan, Kelsey, Leslie and Valerie managed to ride successfully without a boat flip or a lost passenger – and to see the looks on their collective faces afterwards was a mix of pure excitement and disbelief. It was right after this that our guide reminded us that “The Bad Place” was up ahead and we needed to prepare…