Sign up to Muzungu mail

Come experience 'the Best of Africa.' Let the Muzungu share with you my love of all things Ugandan, weekly. Its simple to sign up and it's free.


I guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.

Bye Bye Bujagali Falls …

May 27 • 8879 views • 5 Comments on Bye Bye Bujagali Falls … Adventure

The final day Grade 5 white water rafting at Bujagali Falls

rafting Bujagali Falls

Rafting Bujagali Falls – back in the days before Bujagali Dam

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…

Final morning white water rafting Bujagali Falls

Final morning white water rafting Bujagali Falls. View from the NRE campsite

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!


white water rafting Bujagali

we were all back in the raft together, everyone grinning with excitement

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!

« »

Related posts

5 Responses to Bye Bye Bujagali Falls …

  1. the muzungu says:

    I’ve rafted below Bujagali Dam a couple of times now, and a novice certainly won’t notice any difference. The white water there is still as scary as hell!
    As for the boys with the jerry cans, who used to ask for coins in exchange for going over the grade 5 rapids for tourists, I hear at least one died ‘on the job.’ A much safer bet is for them to become a trained rafter work in one of the lodges or other activity providers. One raft company manager told me that the rafters are paid the equivalent of popstar wages! so the community certainly see the benefits of tourism.

  2. […] 32. River Nile. “Bring it on!” I screamed on my first Grade 5 white water rafting expedition. Second time around, I invited a friend to take my place; third time rafting, and I bailed out as the biggest rapids approached! Feeling nervous, learning to trust your guide, screaming with laughter as you successfully (or not!) negotiate the rapids, you’ll certainly never forget a day on the Nile. […]

  3. […] more adventurous will go grade 5 white water rafting (only Zimbabwe can match Uganda’s white […]

  4. the muzungu says:

    But don’t worry – the white water rafting continues at Jinja!
    Read an article I recently wrote for Nomad Magazine ““DO YOU WANT TO GO WILD?” RAFTING AT THE SOURCE OF THE NILE

  5. […] is a great base for weekends away on safari, white water rafting or just chilling at a lodge with a wonderful view. Heavy traffic, sometimes potholed roads and bad […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *