White Water Rafting in Uganda
At a glance
White-water rafting can be done by the lakeside town of Jinja, where the Nile flows upland out of Lake Victoria.
It's a popular activity at the start or end of a safari circuit, or has a 'halfway point' marking the transition from south-west to north-east.
Despite there being lots of long, tumultuous grade VI and grade V rapids, no experience in white-water rafting is required. For most people, this will be their first time white-water rafting!
All necessary safety precautions are taken, and rescue kayaks and safety boats are close by in case of emergencies. While any activity like this carries some risk, there isn't too much to worry about.
Choosing the route
If you like the sound of floating down the Nile, surrounded by lush forests and wildlife, but don't want to be thrown around by the heavier rapids, then there are 'mild' routes that you can choose.
These routes bypass the most extreme rapids, while still giving enough of a thrill.
There is also a ‘family float’ option for larger groups and families. These boats are larger, which makes them more robust against the waves, and these routes will also skip the most intense rapids.
You can choose to tackle the Big Four – the daunting Grade V rapids that include the aptly-named Itanda ("The Bad Place") - but also milder routes.
In total, the rapids cover a 20km stretch of river, some sections are wilder than others, but all are surrounded by beautiful scenery and the soundtrack of birdsong, and there is the chance to swim in some of the calmer sections.
The town of Jinja is where all rafting adventures begin. The town, which is just downstream from Lake Victoria, one of the Nile’s most important sources, is not only a hub for white-water rafting but also other adventure activities like kayaking, quad-biking, horse riding and bungee jumping.
The countryside around Jinja is also a great place for calmer activities like birding. Species such as the papyrus gonolek, white-backed night heron and crimson-rumped waxbill can all be spotted, and you can also take cruises out on Lake Bujagali.
Where to stay
Many of the hotels in Jinja are more geared towards business travellers, so we would recommend staying in Bujagali or further along the river. In nearby Bujagali, a good option is Jinja Nile Resort, which is a reliable, popular option, albeit slightly tired in terms of its decor.
Downstream, Wildwaters Lodge, situated on its own private island by the Kalagala Falls, is a fabulous option. It has the perfect blend of authentic traditional design and luxurious amenities, with 8 canvas and thatch cottages, as well as a natural pool that blends beautifully into the river in the background and a good restaurant.
When to go
An upstream dam means the river is less affected by seasonal rains. This means you can do white-water rafting in Uganda year-round.
Many prefer to visit Uganda during the drier months of late June to October and late December to early March, but travelling outside these months is also enjoyable if you’re not too fussed by a bit of rain.
You can check out our guide on when to visit Uganda for more information.
Ready to explore Uganda?
Light adventuring and charming safaris in Lake Mburo National Park coupled with lakeside retreats and days of reflection and exploration around Lake Mutanda. Close out the trip with a few days canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking and more in Jinja, Uganda's…
Discover the exceptional bio-diversity of Uganda by combining the beautiful savannah grasslands of Murchison Falls National Park with chimpanzee trekking in the forests of Kibale National Park. Connect the dots with epic road trips looping through northwestern Uganda.…
Combine chimp trekking in Kibale Forest with mountain gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A well-paced highlights tour unlocking some of Uganda's most impressive experiences. Consider breaking up the journey from Kibale to Bwindi with a classic safari at…