“The Big Get Down” and other tales of rafting the Nile (aka THE SOURCE)

I am terribly behind on my posts, so I am trying to catch up. This post refers to a trip taken to Jinja, Uganda (the “Source of the Nile”) in mid-October.

The night before a group of us (mostly Yale residents and medical students) went to Jinja, we visited a popular Irish pub here, Bubbles. The crowd was quite interesting, diverse, and as the night went on, we joked from the terrace part of the bar where we settled that the inside was becoming “the room of bad decisions” as we guessed who in the indoors crowd would make bad decisions. The funnier part of the dialogue occurred when one of our friends decided she and others going to the bar to get another drink would carve through as “the wave of innocence” in the “room of bad decisions.”

The next morning we departed for Jinja by matatu. We arrived and walked through the town a bit. The main street’s architecture felt reminiscent of parts of New Orleans and Latin America.

One side of Main Street, Jinja

One side of Main Street, Jinja

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll before getting to The Source Cafe, the namesake of esoteric jokes my friend Rachelle and me would commence shortly thereafter. The Source was the source — of wonderful coffee, the elixir of energy and the life force (or source).

Michiel getting some coffee beans at The Source Cafe

Michiel getting some coffee beans at The Source Cafe

 

The Source of coffee and friends

The Source of coffee and friends

We headed to a resort-type place for the afternoon and after checking in we took a boat ride to the Source of the Nile.

Kingfisher Resort Jinja

Kingfisher Resort Jinja

 

Roof of vines at Kingfisher

Roof of vines at Kingfisher

Well, the Source is quite arbitrary so we saw many hypothetical sources.

The touristy Source that's not the Source

The touristy Source that's not the Source

 The ride was nice though, and we enjoyed watching the fishermen. 

Idle boat on Lake Victoria

Idle boat on Lake Victoria

In fact at night, Lake Victoria at the mouth of the Nile was awash with lights from men fishing at night. I didn’t capture it well on digital, but it reminded me of pictures I have seen of lakes and rivers in China lit up at night by hundreds of laterns.

Hundreds of fishermen on Lake Victoria at night

Hundreds of fishermen on Lake Victoria at night

In the morning we checked out and a group of us set off for rafting on the Nile.

Team Tutu pre-rafting

Team Tutu pre-rafting

And wow. In all of the amateur rafting I’ve done around the world, this experience was by far the most exhilarating and perhaps unpredictable. We had one particular flip on a rapid where my helmet somehow got caught in the rope after the flip thus preventing my ascent to the top of the river. I simultaneously freaked out and then remained calm as I started to gulp water. I finally unfastened my helmet after a struggle and surfaced after going through a bit more of the rapid, coughing up the Source water engulfing me. I saw the others downstream now reunited with the raft and a safety kayaker collected me. The fall there was called “The Big Get Down” but I am certain it should be renamed to “The Great Fall Out.”

Rafting the Nile 1

Rafting the Nile 1

 

Rafting the Nile 2

Rafting the Nile 2

Yikes

Yikes

Yes please

Yes please

Needless to say, I approached each subsequent rapid with a little bit of anxiety! We had ample time to float and wade in the immensity of the Nile along the way, and sun we did absorb. We even saw some river otters, which we were told is a rather rare sighting for rafters. There are class VI rapids on this stretch of the Nile, but we didn’t run beyond class V. I was fine with that.

We finished with Nile Special beers and soda from the rafting company at the end of a full day of rafting. The motto of Nile Special as depicted on the bottle is: “True Reward from the Source”. But why have beer brewed from the Nile River water when you can just swallow it yourself during a day of rafting? Nonetheless, the reward mellowed out a day of fun, sun, and exhilaration.

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