Heya love; It has been a while. I did this last year and never got around to posting it, but here you go.
I do not have a bucket list. Two bucket list-like things came to me through Pearl Guide Uganda a couple of weekends ago. There had been advertisements about four travel weekends, one of which was to be spent at Murchison falls. I have been to Murchison and I was not impressed by the elusive cats and lumbering elephants. Even that buffalo that tried to run my friends and I down in Chobe, does not particularly faze me now — especially since we survived. The trips to Mburo and Queen Elizabeth; I try to avoid Masaka road as much as my powers allow.
The trip to take then was the last option scheduled for the second last weekend of October. We would be camping for a night, whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. I had no idea of the initial details. One of my girlfriends handled the logistics and corresponded with the Pearl Guide people. I needed a break and assumed this would be a much-needed reprieve from my desk job.
The day before the trip, I, along with my friends and strangers from all over Kampala were added onto a Whatsapp group. I never participate in these, so I merely watched as a few instructions were disbursed on arrival time and the activities we would be expected to partake of. Some people, clearly excitable, posted strange videos and pictures. There was a mildly alarming whitewater rafting video, complete with a rock n’ roll soundtrack and humans disappearing beneath ferocious waters. My three friends and I, in a sidebar, dismissed it as scare tactics. We had paid sh250,000, so we decided the video could not be of our dear River Nile, besides, even if it was… the dams had should have calmed some of that madness. Also, the video was of bazungu getting submerged…we are not wazungu. Aside from that video and some noise about wearing minimal clothing, no real details were given.
When we boarded the coaster that morning at about 7:00am, joining many strangers from around the city. Someone from Adrift came in to brief us. And brief he did…he said we would be having fun and that we should sign the forms. In fewer words he was saying that if we died or severed limbs…it would not be their fault.
We were just past Lugazi when your grandmother called, it seemed my father had informed her of my travels. The signal wasn’t the best but she said something about crocodiles and slippery banks. I would call her later I decided…so I hung up.
There were fast acquaintance-ships that grew in the frenzied few hours we were on the road. Immediately our four coasters arrived at the rafting base, most of us had made fast friends, imbibed Uganda Waragi in conspicuous amounts, because our hosts are alcoholics (bad, bad, bad) and but there was not further time to interact. It was: Change, pick a helmet, pick a paddle, take pictures. Separate into groups of eight. Get a guide. Get an inflatable raft. Into the water.
What happened after fifteen minutes of training is a blur. Should you decide to raft though, here are a 11 pointers….
- Lather your face and shoulders with waterproof sunscreen, even if you are Zakayo’s skin colour (Zakayo is one of the oldest chimpanzees in Uganda fyi, you will likely not meet him, he’s like navy black, if such a colour exists). Unless of course you’d rather molt like a lizard in the weeks after you survive the Nile.
- Do not carry anything valuable onto the raft. This seems like a no brainer, but it is amazing how much idiocy adrenaline induces. While your expensive sunglasses or fake pearl earrings will look great on Instagram, be prepared to lose them to the savagely fierce rapids.
- Take pictures before you get onto the raft. The water will reorganise your priorities so fast it will be visible on your face and, therefore, in a photograph, after.
- Wear tight bottoms (shorts preferably) without pockets. The water will try to undress you otherwise.
- Prepare to drink the from the source. If the pharaohs had not lived further down the River…you would have trouble convincing me that I not ingest some of their remains.
- Time is warped on the River Nile. And Mother nature is a relentless, powerful and seductive goddess who will concuss you into thinking you have surely traveled the length of the Nile in that hour. You will only have traveled 10kms of course. And when your raft hovers precariously over a rock for 3 seconds, those will be the longest 30 minutes of your existence. You will wish you called your mother when you had the chance.
- The rapids will either make you religious or silence you mum.
- Listen to your instructor, even if he sounds loony telling you to let go of the raft, having fallen out as you navigated a rapid. Shoulders bones have been known to slide out of sockets.
- While trying to keep afloat or find the breathing chamber underneath the raft, in panic, your best friend may try to drown you. Do not hold it against them.
- When you manage to get to the end of the line intact…you will use the word “eh” with apparent incredulity for most of the evening.
- When you get out of the river, the trudge up the slippery earth staircase is maddeningly excruciating. One misstep and you’ll take everyone behind you back into the river, there’s no other way out.