White water rafting in Jinja: White water rafting is a recreational activity/sport where an inflatable raft carries 4 to 8 people down white water rapids on a river. Usually, the raft moves very fast and the currents along the river are strong.
You can do white water rafting by the lakeside town of Jinja, where the Nile flows upland out of Lake Victoria. Additionally, it is an adventurous sport with varying levels of difficulty. It also requires guidance from an experienced rafting guide especially for beginners.
Jinja town-the hot spot for white water rafting
Jinja is located in the Eastern part of Uganda – 85km away from Kampala (Uganda’s capital city). Established in 1907, Jinja is Uganda’s second largest town and former industrial hub.
In Jinja, you will find the exact spot where Lake Victoria releases its waters to the great River Nile. This spot is the source of the Nile.
The town of Jinja is where all rafting adventures begin. Located downstream from Lake Victoria, this town is not only a hub for white water rafting but also other exciting activities such as kayaking, quad-biking, bird watching, boat cruises, horse riding and bungee jumping.
Preparation process for the whitewater rafting experience
A typical day of whitewater rafting starts with early morning breakfast before your transfer to the river bank. All participants should leave their valuables and dry clothes in the car with the tour guide for safe keeping.
The allocated teams then receive orientation about safety and what to expect. The orientation is supervised by guides who are very experienced and knowledgeable about the area and the rapids on the river.
During the orientation session, the guides go through every aspect of safety to ensure that all rafters have the best possible experience. Some of the aspects that are covered include how to get hold of the rope for safety, how to paddle and how to fall out of the raft in the right way. Participants are advised to remain as calm as possible if they trip over while holding their breath. While preparing for your adventure, it is advisable to choose clothes that dry fast because you will be in and out of water several times.
Choosing the routes for rafting
Before the activity begins, individuals are given an opportunity to choose between an easy or more difficult route. Those who are not prepared for the Grade 4 and 5 Levels can opt for the Grade 3 rafting. Families have an option of going for the slower family float trip which is designed to enjoy the river while avoiding the main rapids. All participants are required to sign a form with details about any ailments. You cannot go for rafting if you have health conditions such as hypertension or anaemia.
The actual white water rafting experience
After the orientation session, the rafters are required to have their helmets and waterproof jackets fastened before the activity begins. The first mile or so gives the guides more time to train all participants fully before the rapids get stronger downstream.
Whenever you reach the next rapid, the guides arrange for a vote of whether to go through the easy route (the edges) or the hard way (the middle). If the majority votes for one of the two, then the whole team proceeds with that.
The experienced rafters are taken to the strongest section of currents to allow them tip over.
While leading a group of inexperienced members, the team leader should approach each rapid at the weakest/easiest point so that they don’t trip over. In case the inexperienced group encounters a large rapid, they can get out of their rafts and walk around it. Steering through each rapid offers a different experience and depends entirely on how the lead guide navigates.
The routes for rafting
For those that are interested in enjoying the sound of floating down the Nile, surrounded by wildlife and beautiful forests but without being thrown around by the heavier rapids, the mild routes are the best option. These routes bypass the most powerful rapids and thus give you a thrilling experience as well.
Family float routes
There is a ‘family float’ option for larger groups and families. These boats are larger which makes them more resistant against the waves and these routes will also skip the most intense rapids.
You can choose to tackle the Big Four rapids (the daunting Grade V rapids) that include the Itanda rapids, also known as the “the Bad Place”.
A summary about the rapids
In total, the rapids on the Nile cover a 20km distance. Some sections are wilder than others, but all are surrounded by beautiful scenery. While there, you may also enjoy the melodious sounds from the birds around. There is also a chance of swimming in some of the calmer sections.
All necessary safety precautions are taken before, during and after white water rafting. In addition, there are rescue kayaks and safety boats that are always on standby in case of emergencies. Whereas this activity seems to be risky, there is actually not much you should worry about as long as you are in the hands of the professional tour guides.
Benefits of white water rafting
1. Reduces stress: While you are taking part in this exciting activity, you will definitely shade off stress from your day to day activities. In addition, the fresh air and the beautiful nature is good for your mental health as they help you to relax.
2. The thrill/adrenaline rush: White water rafting provides you with an adrenaline rush as you go though the turns of the river and battle with every rapid. This greatly contributes to your quality of health.
3. Good for the heart and strengthening muscles: Due to the fact that this activity mostly requires using your upper body to paddle through the water, it tones the arms, back and shoulders. With regards to cardio health, white water rafting is good for strengthening the heart muscles since it is a strenuous activity that requires endurance.
4. Essential for teamwork building and family bonding
Going on a wild adventure with your teammates is a perfect way for building deeper and meaningful relationships with them. That said, white water rafting is one of the best activities to suit that purpose.
When it comes to family bonding, this activity gives one a chance to learn more about their weaknesses and strengths which in turn helps each family member to bond.
5. Builds confidence
The water rafting experience will definitely leave you feeling accomplished and with a lot of confidence. Depending on how difficult the river is, you may find the rapids intimidating at first but on completion, you will have gained a sense of accomplishment which will highly boost your self-esteem.
For tourists visiting Jinja for white water rafting or any other activities, there are various accommodation facilities that they can access for meals and overnight stay.
These facilities vary according to the tourist’s budget and preferences for instance budget, mid-range and luxury options.
Some of these facilities include Jinja Nile Resort, Wildwaters Lodge and several others.
Best time to go for rafting
White water rafting can be done all year round and it is actually less affected by seasonal rains.
However, many tourists prefer to visit during the drier months of late October and late December to early March.
Shifts for white water rafting
White water rafting in Jinja is divided into two sessions – full day and half day. One can choose to go for a full day of white water rafting or a half day. You will join your fellow rafters for registration and the briefing. After the briefing, you will be supplied with life jackets, helmets and other rafting gear.
The half day grade 5 rafting covers 4 big rapids, over 11km and lasts 2 to 3 hours.The minimum age is 14 years.
The full day grade 5 rafting lasts 3 to 4 hours on the river and covers 9 rapids, the minimum age is 16 years.
Grade 3 white water rafting lasts for 4 to 5 hours and covers 15km.
Grade 5 extreme rafting lasts for 4 to 5 hours and covers 15km.
The family float covers 7km and lasts up to 2 hours on the river.
What you will see along the way
Expect to encounter locals fishing and drying their clothes by the riverside. The river in Jinja is a birders paradise with over 100 species. Keen observers might even spot vervet monkeys swinging on top of trees along the river bank. After the activity, there is usually a small party where participants get free drinks and transportation back at the lodge.
Is white water rafting safe in Jinja Uganda?
White water rafting is very safe because the crew is highly trained and experienced in navigating though the rapids. It is important to follow instructions from the guides for your on safety and enjoyment. Participants receive life jackets and strong helmets to protect them from injuries in case they trip over. Talking about tripping over, one needs to hold on to the ropes around the raft or raise their knees to their chest each time they plunge beneath the waves.
Another exciting activity on the Nile
Tubing the Nile is another exciting activity worth considering while visiting Jinja and the Nile River. This involves drifting on the Nile using an inflated tube while watching birds, sunbathing and marveling at the beautiful scenery around the Nile. The activity can take place on level/calm waters or close to the rapids.
You can combine whitewater rafting with other major activities like gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Visiting the Murchison Falls National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park. Contact Pamoja Tours and Travel for all our incredible safari packages.