We ran eight rapids over 23km of the Nile: three class V, five class IV. I only fell out of the boat twice, and everyone had a good time.

We started at dawn with a boda ride to the designated pickup spot at a mall in town. Our ride was a little late, so we got breakfast and watched a man pick up a prostitute. The wealth and gender dynamics on display were disheartening, but not unexpected to anyone who has seen Darwin’s Nightmare.

Our bus from Nile River Explorers arrived, and we met a bunch of European travelers heading to Jinja to mountain bike. Our common language was English, and we discussed the odd translations of hippopotamus into Dutch, German and Spanish as variants of “river horse.” A better start to the day.

We arrived at Jinja, got breakfast and an orientation talk from Brian, our charming but clearly competent guide, and we were off. Another short bus ride through the village, then down to the Nile, and another safety talk, where Brian indicated all the ways the river would toss us about. Then into the water to practice flipping the boat, re-entering from the water, and basic paddling strokes.

Our first rapid was a class V, with a fun 3-meter drop off a waterfall. This went well, but we flipped on our second class IV, and Ruth was under the boat when it flipped back over. It was not an auspicious start, but we gained confidence on proceeding rapids, and had a nice treat of pineapples for lunch. One of the safety kayakers got into the chase raft, flipped his boat over, and cut them on the bottom.

We portaged past an enormous class VI rapid, that once we saw we were happy to walk around, and finished the day with a plenty-big class V called Nile Special. Brian claims the beer was named after the rapid, but the follow-on waves named Bell and Club made me skeptical. I was tossed out on the first big wave, but stayed calm and relatively near the raft. Brian pushed Ruth out to “rescue me” once it was calmer, and we floated together to the end of the day.

I felt a little like “that guy” with a GoPro strapped to my head, but the footage proved to be worth it.

Rafting in Africa from Ruth Miller on Vimeo.