• whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

Grade 5 Whitewater Rafting the Nile River in Uganda

When I am on a backpacking trip, there is one expensive thing I don’t even question spending money on: ADVENTURE. It’s always a little costly, it’s always worth it. I budget an extra 400 bucks/ month so that I can bungee, whitewater raft, or canyon. It seems like each area has their “adventure niche” and I’m always determined to find it.

Originally in Uganda, my main adventure was going to be trekking the Bwindi Jungle near the Congo border in the hopes of stumbling across the great silverback gorillas. Because of safety issues, I didn’t make it at that time (but will definitely go back one day). Instead, I headed North to the source of the Nile: Jinja.

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africaViews from the hostel porch were stunning

The Backpackers Hostel in Kampala was the meeting place where a free shuttle took me to a sister hostel outside Jinja 8km, right on the river bank. The adventure shuttle bus was full of tourists. Just kidding. Because of Kampala being unsafe at the time I was there, I only ever saw a couple other tourists in 5 weeks.

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

Explorers River Camp (Jinja)

Within the hostel group “Nile River Explorers” which has various hostels, this location was the only one located on the River with access to a small beach area. I was promised multiple times that I would not get eaten by a crocodile or hippo. In the middle of the green jungle, down a red dirt path, armed guards met us for our arrival.

Pros of the hos

  • other tourists to hang out with (finally!)
  • free shuttle from Kampala
  • fabulous free BBQ while you overlook an unbelievable view
  • one night free stay if you book an adventure
  • very decent prices- 7 to camp, 12 for dorm, 30 for a room, and 35 for a jungle tent
  • hot shower, mosquito net, free WIFI, clean
  • tons of adventure options: rafting, bungee, kayak, quads, bikes

Cons of the hos

  • a little loud from music and monkeys on the tip roof

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africathe path out of the hostel, women selling handicrafts

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africabeach & view credit: Nile River Explorers

Rafting Grade 5’s on the Nile

The day I arrived I went on the Full Day Grade 5 rafting tour option. They have other varieties like half day and less intense rapids. I had rafted before in whitewater as well as drunken trips like in Cesky Krumlov but this was SERIOUS whitewater! The cost for full day was $125 which was very fair! Lunch was included… half a pineapple. Afterward, we had the option to buy a CD with the photos (another 20 bucks I always end up spending) and they fed us until we were stuffed. Most backpackers stayed up late with us drinking on the porch overlooking the river. We still managed to wake up early the next AM for some spontaneous bungee jumping.

Nothing I’ve done so far compares to rafting on grade 5’s. Bungee is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and canyoning in Interlaken was exhilarating, but this is because you have to do things yourself and it’s all in your own hands. It goes against every instinct in my body to jump of a cliff. With rafting, there is no control. Unless your a pro kayaker, you’re just in a raft with a paddle you barely know how to use- it’s the current that has control, and hopefully your guide! I can’t explain it properly in words so here are the photographs!

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africaour guide was fantastic and purposely flipped us often!

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africaThere were guys on rocks around the rapids and in kayaks ready to save lives!

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africaguide: “Keep your heads down or you’ll get hurt!” me: ignoring everything

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africayou can see here the guide helped to flip us

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africa

whitewater raft grade 5 rapids nile river jinja uganda africamy awesome rafting buds!

Rafting was incredible and lasted for about 6 hours. I would recommend it anyone and would do it again! I’d love to try kayaking but I don’t want to die. At the end of our trip, everyone was getting ready to walk back and the guide said there was an ungraded rapid just down the river that we could try if we didn’t tell anyone. So I’m only telling the whole internet. Only me and one other guy went down, Tom, who you can see pictured above. The guide was goofing around and ended up falling off unable to catch up and Tom and I went through the rapid alone. It was huge and terrifying and awesome! I flew out of the raft almost immediately and went through the rapid with just my vest on! Awesome!!

 

I was not asked to write a review by Explorers River Camp, nor did they discount my rafting. Have you rafted grade 5’s anywhere? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done? Tell me about it! 

 

2017-07-05T18:42:22+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

7 Comments

  1. Kelsey February 12, 2014 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Wow! What an experience! Your photo’s look absolutely crazy.

    I was in New Zealand’s south island for a few weeks at the beginning of the year and myself and my family went white water rafting on the Shotover River in Queenstown. The rafting trip we chose went down grade 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and 5’s… It had rained HEAVILY the day before, so heavily that the rafting companies didn’t go out the previous day due to the high waters. Long story short… had an absolute blast till we got to the grade 5 rapid ‘Germans’. Our raft tipped at the gnarliest rapid of the trip and I went down three to four rapids underwater. I was sure I was about to drown but somehow managed to swim to the rocks. My mum got her tooth chipped and knocked back on another rapid (AMAZING one, it’s an old mining tunnel burrowed into the cliff face that goes on for at least 100m with the ‘light at the end of tunnel’ getting larger and larger… till you come out into bright sunshine and fall down a ‘grade 3’ (more like a 4….) cascading rapid to the end of the rafting course…) so my family and I had an interesting experience but I am so keen to get back rafting! I LOVE sea kayaking but I need to summon some courage to tackle a river in a kayak… It will happen! I hope it happens for you too! Being on the river and experiencing a total lack of control and having to relax and have faith it’s all going to be okay… it’s a wonderful experience!

    • Rachel Jones February 12, 2014 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Wow, so messed up that your mom chipped her tooth! I’ve heard of that happening before and I’m always nervous about it! Sounds like you had a great time though! I also love to sea kayak.

  2. Bryan July 8, 2014 at 1:31 am - Reply

    That was one hell of an adventure, i also rafted the nile before but one of the most amazing waves was the last called Nile Special….KILLER..damn.. i will never forget it

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