Adventure in Uganda
Take a walk on the wild side
Adventure Safaris in Uganda
In Uganda, adventure is synonymous with Jinja and the River Nile, and a trip to Uganda is never complete without visiting both. Although Jinja is a small quiet town, one only needs to venture a short distance from the town centre to find that it is also a giant playground for thrill-seekers. From mountain biking to white-water rafting, to quad biking and horse riding. You can also take part in paddle boarding and fishing excursions.
At the heart of this playground is the River Nile, which starts its 6863-kilometre journey to the Mediterranean Sea. In Jinja, the stretch of the White Nile between Jinja and Bujagali is world-famous for its wild rapids; the volume of water here is equivalent to ten times that of the River Zambezi.
White Water Rafting
Before 1996, white-water rafting started at the upper section of the Nile at Bujagali Falls. However, since 2011 when the Bujagali Dam was opened, several sets of cascades including Bujagali falls itself were flooded. But all is not lost as rafting trips now start below the Bujagali Dam. The Itanda stretch of rapids was crafted by nature just for white-water rafting; it has three levels of rapids graded 3 – 6 that offer drastic vertical drops.
A full-day white-water rafting excursion covers 9 rapids (one Grade 6, four Grade 5, four Grade 4) rafting over a distance of 20kms to end at Itanda Falls. The rapids are broken up by calm stretches of water where rafters can check out the green-forested hillsides and even spot a variety of birds, monkeys and baboons, as they prepare for a fresh dose of action, before breaking for lunch and heading back for another round.
There are also options for half-day rafting and a choice of packages that cater to families, groups that cater to all levels and experience.
All rafters use a protective helmet and a life jacket and are guided by experienced captains on what actions to take. Rescue kayaks escort all rafting trips to retrieve rafters that are tossed out of the raft, as does a safety boat that steers clear of all the rapids, for those that do not wish to continue. Expert photographers capture all the action so that rafters can share and relive this wild marine adventure forever.
Kayaking and Canoeing
People travel from all over the world to kayak the Nile and it’s easy to see why – the waters are warm, the sun is always shining, plenty of birds and monkeys roam the green riverbanks, and most importantly, there are lots of white-water sections to kayak including spectacular Grade 5 rapids. Like white-water rafting, kayaking is not just for those with experience; many first-timers are able to successfully guide their kayak with the Nile crashing around them, after a short introductory course in paddling, capsizing, backward paddling, rescue techniques and even rolling. Like all the other adventure activities on the Nile, kayaking is very safe and the guides very experienced with the waters.
Kayaking is one of the most extreme ways to see the Nile. A full day Nile kayaking experience starts in the morning in a calm section of the river with an introductory course on the Nile and the basics of kayaking. The afternoon session is a full white-water trip that starts in a free-flowing section of the river and depending on where one is kayaking or their skill level, leading up to serious rapids like the world-famous ‘Nile Special’ rapid.
Kayakers can bring their own boats, rent some, kayak solo or try out tandem kayaking. Tandem kayaking is great for first-timers because, with little or no kayaking experience, they can take on some of the biggest and best rapids in a day. The guide sitting behind you gives instruction on what actions you should take as you approach the rapids, and should you end up upside down, the guide will roll you back upright in a few seconds.
Jinja is a scenic place, with green-forested islands and waterfalls, and rich culture to match. Mountain back tours are a great way to get off the beaten track and explore Jinja and the banks of the River Nile, with a knowledgeable local guide. Tours of note:
Bujagali Ride: 2-hour ride through villages and small farms, with spectacular views of the Nile, along the way. Guides will help with spotting some of the 80 species recorded on the Nile.
Bugembe Viewpoint: A challenging ride to the top of a small hill that offers the best views of both the River Nile and Lake Victoria, before continuing to ride through Jinja town and the historic source of the Nile.
Mabira Forest Reserve Ride: Starts 20 kms out of Jinja town, heading the opposite direction to Mabira Forest, the only equatorial forest in Central Uganda. Mabira is home to over 300 bird species and numerous butterflies, monkeys, plants and trees. Riding through the forest on narrow tracks with a canopy of trees providing shelter from the sun is experiencing nature at its best. The ride to the forest wanders through small villages, sugar and banana plantations and gives a good taste of rural Uganda.