Sunday, 3 January 2016

An UndeNILEbly Epic Adventure

Well, Christmas came and went, and with a little over a week left before heading back to work, there was only one thing to do – explore! The three of us had two spots in particular that we wanted to check out, Jinja and Fort Portal. So, on Christmas morning we booked bus tickets and accommodations and then began to prep for the adventure ahead.

I have to warn you before I get into this; this post is going to be long. BUT, there will be plenty of pictures and a video to hopefully break up the storytelling.

We arrived at the bus station earlier than needed, after a bit of a hassle tracking down boda drivers to take us. I had a bad feeling about the bus, and it turns out I had reason to. The tickets we ordered online didn’t actually go through the system. So, while they happily took our money* they didn’t have any seats reserved for us. Luckily this ended up working out, as we basically just jumped onto the bus as it began to depart from the station. I’m not gonna lie, it felt pretty badass doing so!

After a 2-ish hour bus ride, we arrived in Jinja, checked into our hotel, and enjoyed a much-needed cup of coffee, while we planned the day’s events. We settled on a trip to Bujagali Falls and a sunset horseback ride. For day two of our Jinja stay, we decided to go white water rafting on the Nile, much to my hesitance.

It turns out Bujagali Falls doesn’t really exist because of a dam that is used to provide electricity. However, we did find a spot that offers a riverboat ride near where we were expecting to find the falls. After negotiating our way down to a fairly reasonable price because of a highly offensive, and even more highly intoxicated sir**, we jumped aboard and headed off for a relaxing hour-long boat ride along the Nile River. I can honestly say this was my first Holy Noodles I’m in ____ moment in a long time***. I mean, the Nile is pretty epic… It was absolutely stunning, and the slightly overcast weather made it the perfect way to start off our vacation.

A view of the Nile.
Some of the views from the Riverboat Tour

When we finished, we made our way to what is known as the Source of the Nile. While this in and of itself sounds like reason enough to go, our intention for visiting this spot was actually to hangout with our pal, Mahatma Gandhi. This spot is home to one of several shrines which house the remains of Gandhi. Here we also checked out some of the crafts for sale before making our way to our horseback riding adventure.

The Speke Monument found in the Source of the Nile Gardens
Just chillin' with Gandhi. No big deal...
The trek to Nile Horseback Safaris was a lovely one, riding on bodas just outside of the city centre and enjoying the wind blowing through my hair. Considering this transport option is kind of risky, it's amazing just how relaxing it can actually be! Anyway, we arrived a bit early, so we were invited to go for a walk along the main property. This provided an excellent photo-taking opportunity.
Views from the main property of Nile Horseback Safaris. If you look really close, you can
spot some naked dudes bathing in the water! You're welcome ladies and 10% of men.

Before too long, we were fitted with helmets, and introduced to our horses. I was assigned Jack Daniels, because, you know, the non-drinker in the group should obviously be matched with ‘ol Jack! He was also kind of tired, I thought, which worried me, but we got along just fine. The ride itself was about an hour and a half. It was a nice little trip around the area, seeing us through a few of the surrounding villages, as well as open landscapes. But, horseback riding is quite tiring, I learned. I have lots of respect for my friends that are at the competitive level of riding – I honestly have no idea how you do it… especially you ladies!
Rachel, moi, and Aaron (L-R)
Day two meant something big for your favourite Orange Canadian. It meant I had to face a few fears to make one massive do one thing that scares you a day. We spent the day on and in the Nile on a rafting expedition with Nalubale Rafting. Why was this such a big deal for me, you ask? Well, I had a near drowning experience in the Atlantic Ocean when I was a youngin', the possibility of dying, and my nearly 20 years since I’d last swam all played factors. And facing my fears started far more quickly than I was hoping to!

After gearing up my glasses for the adventure and being assigned a raft, our guide Ashiraf, plopped us in and we made our way into the river. Now, this “into the river” I speak of took place both figuratively and quite literally…hence my fear facing taking place far too quickly for my liking. And of course, I was distracted partly by the idea of what I was about to engage in, but also because I was surrounded by some spectacular views. I was called out fairly quickly for my lack of attention, which was probably not so great on my part given fear number 1 and 2 listed above! But after a few drills, and experiencing what I’m sure a beached whale feels like****, we set off for the real adventure.
Evidence that I was not paying attention... and sitting right in front of the guide at that!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
Here we go!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
...and we got stuck.
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
The first half of the morning, we were a fairly big group – 7 of us in all, plus our guide. In the afternoon, everyone basically abandoned us, so it was only the three of us, Ashiraf, and another of Nalubale’s staff, Emma. Since we’d survived the morning with only a few scares - but ultimately had a blast - my nerves returned with the thought of a smaller crew. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to just pack it all in and head back to town. But, I’m really glad I stuck with it. It turns out the smaller group made it way better! In addition to our epic flip at the end - which directly made me face fear #1 - it made for a really great afternoon, and gave me even more epic sunburns! I even managed not to loose my glasses or the money I had stashed in my bra, thanks to the security system that is my boobs*****.

Full team photo...right before they left us!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
I don't look scared at all...
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
Heading in for the grande finale! This is when we learn how determined I was not to end up in the water...
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
The wave hits us...
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
The wave moves us slightly sideways... and Aaron is out!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
And we're up! ...and I'm holding on for dear life!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
Fully flipped over...still hanging on.
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
And we're down for the count... but I'm probably still holding
on trying to convince myself that we haven't flipped!
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
In the water, glasses gone... Not loving this moment.
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
Giving the 'all good' thumbs up, with my "water boda"/rescuer, Nicholas.
Photo credit: Nalubale Rafting
On the way back, we stopped in front of a cornfield for a much needed pee break. Since Rachel and I were the only ladies participating in this, we were told to go a bit further back. I was pretty proud of not peeing all over myself, but that pride quickly faded when I realized that both my underpantaloons AND capris were still pretty wet, meaning I was having far too much trouble getting them back up. And by "far too much trouble getting them back up" I actually mean, I couldn't get them back up! This of course was not aided by the urgency I felt to get back to the truck, or the excessive amounts of laughter between Rachel and I. But, I’m happy to report I got ‘em all pulled up and made it back on the truck successfully.

If you ever find yourself in this wonderful country and are up for a little adventure along the Nile, look these folks up! All of the staff that we interacted with are awesome - and, we’re already planning round two! But you’ll have to hurry up, because sadly, they may not be around for much longer******!

Our final day in Jinja was spent failing to see the War Cemetery, and perusing the local market. 

A few views of the Cemetery

Jinja is a wonderful little town and makes for a wonderful escape from the busyness of Kampala. I look forward to returning soon to re-face my fears!

-the Orange Canadian

*We aren’t talking significant amounts of money here, so it wasn’t stressful from that perspective.
**Don't worry, this sir did not join us on the trip, he was just around while we were deciding if we wanted to partake in this activity or not. 
***I’m pretty sure the Colosseum in Rome was the only other time I was truly overwhelmed by the significance of where I was, with the exception of Cape Coast, but that is a completely different story/feeling!
****Getting back in the raft was probably the least attractive thing I have ever done… with the exception of a tale I’ll tell you about in a few paragraphs!
*****This revelation was announced aloud to a boat of random strangers upon my discovery. ...And I’m not even ashamed of it!

******There is another dam proposed, which would pretty much destroy the rapids used for this trip. This would not only impact the business of Nalubale, but a few other companies that operate similar activities on the Nile. It also means a pretty significant amount of locals will lose their jobs, which is harsh, considering they work hard and obviously love what they do!

No comments:

Post a Comment