The final day Grade 5 white water rafting at Bujagali Falls
Life jackets, helmets and wooden paddles were dished out to us before we trotted down to the River Nile to meet our guides in a day of brilliant sunshine. I stayed close to my guide, designer-dreadlocked* Nathan, who promised to keep an eye on me.
Our safety training and practice session behind us, we took the first rapid gently. I felt like a little kid, just loving every moment of it. The next rapid took us all by surprise – it was big! Our raft flipped over and I was thrown out of the raft like popcorn. Paul stuck out his paddle for me to grab onto and reeled me in while I splutter-giggled sincere words of thanks. A kayaker appeared and told us to hold on to his kayak as we were delivered through the water back to our raft. Nathan grabbed my jacket and hauled me up and into the raft – he was so strong he flew me high into the air causing hysterical laughter among our team – but we were all back together, everyone grinning with excitement. Nathan told us to grab our paddles, sit back on the edge of the raft and resume paddling…
The guides were psyching everyone up for the next rapid – and we were expecting to flip over again. For some reason, I really, really wanted us to!
We two girls yelled “We DON’T want to flip…” while the rest of the team sat in silent contemplation of our last immersion. Then the girls responded to the silence “…but we don’t want the calm side of the river either!”
And off we paddled as hard as we could, determined not to lose the raft again, whilst fighting the automatic urge to close my eyes in the spray. I didn’t want to miss a thing. We were being thrown around so violently, tossed in all directions.
Suddenly it was calm.
We all turned to see Nathan do a back somersault into the water and we all fell about laughing with exhilaration and relief. We looked back and watched the next raft take the rapid – I couldn’t believe that had been us bursting through all that white water just a minute beforehand – it looked absolutely terrifying but I just wanted to do it all over again!
I LOVED it.
Excitement overcame the apprehension and I couldn’t stop grinning the whole way through!
This section of the River Nile is now submerged under Lake Bujagali, thanks to Bujagali going online. We were mostly oblivious to the finality of the day; we were too absorbed with trying to keep afloat!
Story by rafting partners-in crime and Uganda Conservation colleagues Julia Lloyd and Andrew Roberts.
*No rasta jokes please!