White Water Rafting in Uganda
What’s more, it is also a great way to see this beautiful river and the largely unspoilt jungle that lines its banks. This jungle is teeming with birdlife, which can be spotted when while your traversing the slower stretches of the river, and you might even spot some crocodiles - although how happy you feel about this is likely to depend on the speed at which your raft is travelling away from it.
Despite there being lots of long, tumultuous grade VI and grade V rapids, no experience in white-water rafting is needed beforehand; many who do it here are doing it for their first time, and enjoy it all the more! Plus, if things get out of hand, there is always a safety boat accompanying reputable tours that you can hop onto. It should be noted, however, that such adventures activities always carry some risk, but on the whole, there isn’t too much to worry about.
If you want to go down this spectacular stretch of the Nile, but aren’t quite as much of the adventure-seeking type, then it is usually possible to opt for the ‘mild’ version of the water run. This involves bypassing the most extreme rapids but is still an enjoyable and exciting experience. It is also possible to go for a ‘family float’ option which can fit multiple people, and also involves skipping the biggest waves.
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 whitewater-rafting but also other adventure sports like kayaking, quad-biking, horse riding and bungee jumping. Apart from such thrills, you can also do calmer activities such as birding expeditions, where species such as the papyrus gonolek, white-backed night heron and crimson-rumped waxbill can be spotted, as well as cruises on Lake Bujagali. The whitewater-rafting takes places 7km down the river from Jinja, at Bujagali.
The tour that Brilliant offers includes both the option to tackle the Big Four – the daunting Grade V rapids such as the aptly-named Itanda (The Bad Place) - but also the option to do the ‘mild’ version. A 20km stretch of river will be traversed in total, allowing you to see a significant amount of scenery (when you’re not hurtling down at breakneck speed) and there will be the chance to swim as well in the calmer sections. The company that we use adheres to the highest professional and safety standards (all trips go out with accompanying rescue kayaks as well as a safety boat), includes meals and drinks and will pick you up from your hotel.
White Water Rafting FAQs
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, the best option is probably Jinja Nile Resort, which is a reliable, popular option, albeit slightly tired in terms of its decor.
Downstream, Wildwaters Lodge, which is 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. Amazing views of the Nile can be soaked up throughout the lodge, and it is ideal both as a base for doing adventure sports and also relaxing.
You can do white water rafting (and other activities) on the river year-round, as the river has a dam and is thus not affected too much by seasonal fluctuations in rain. Many prefer to visit Uganda drier months of late June to October and late December to early March, but travelling outside of these months is also enjoyable if you’re not too fussed by a bit of rain, and offers the benefit of there being fewer other tourists.
The white-water rafting spot can be reached in around a two-hour drive from Kampala, depending on traffic, thanks to ever-improving road quality in the region.
It is not possible to fly to Jinja, so most travellers will fly to Entebbe, the main international airport located in Kampala, and then drive from there to Jinja. There are many other things to do in Uganda apart from white-water rafting - such as gorilla-trekking in Bwindi and safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park - so, in any event, you’re likely to want to combine several different destinations as part of a tour, rather than just heading straight for Jinja. Brilliant offers a variety of such tours, suiting different budgets, preferences and schedules.
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