Day 150 - 156 Uganda : Nile River Explorers

The first couple of days at NRE Campsite found us relaxing, doing chores that had been outstanding for some time now and generally catching up on blogs, banking and emails now that we had internet access again.  The rest of the time was spent swimming in the bay below the resort

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- or at least trying to as we jumped into the water to swim a couple of metres against the current only to be swept back to the rocks where we'd jumped in!  Pretty exhausting after a couple of goes but the water - the White Nile! - was refreshing and clean.  And when we weren't battling the river, we were sunning ourselves on the rocks

a_SG105899 and watching fishermen expertly cast nets to catch Tilapia

a_SG105875 a_SG105908 and fit kayakers (Left: Koa, Right: Latif) practising their skills making a somersault in a kayak ABOVE the water look so easy!

In the next couple of days we learnt about 2 new things in Uganda - boda-boda and rolex.  One a new mode of transport and the other the most amazing street food (not to be confused with a watch of the same name!!). 

Here's Trevor on the back of his boda-boda that we caught into Jinja town. a_DSCN0382

Rolex's can be found at any street food stall but a clue to the best rolexes will be a pile of egg trays and rows of what looks like pale, uncooked bread rolls on the vendor's table.  To explain what this little miracle is:  the bread roll looking things are uncooked chappatis that are rolled out fresh to order and fried on a flat tray over a charcoal fire.  The omelette is made separately and filled to your taste with onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and meat (if available).  This omelette is then laid on top the freshly cooked chappati, filled with a thick curry gravy and rolled up.  This is known as a Rolex All and Trevor's favourite.  My favourite filling is fresh avocado and fried tomato.  I have to mention here that nothing is served uncooked or unpeeled.  So, as long as its cooked fresh, we consider this to be really safe street food.  You can also order banana and nutello or any combination of the above as fillings.  And all for the princely sum of equivalent to 40p for a Rolex All and 20p for the avo or banana filling - a fantastic way to start the day..... or used for "filling the corners", lunch, tea or supper. 

As part of our stay in Jinja we had planned to go white water rafting on the Nile and, in for a penny, in for a pound, it was to be Grade 5 all the way.  We woke up on Sunday morning, butterflies in our tummies as we got onto the truck for the transfer to the river.  First stop was the NRE Backpackers site in Jinja for a safety briefing and breakfast (so that we had something to puke up although I think it may have been to give us energy to paddle!!!).  Then it was off to the river. 

Trevor, myself, Anja and Jorg made up a foursome but we needed 6 for the raft so we teamed up with Zane and Kerry from Nairobi to make up the numbers.  Our skipper for the day, Peter, found us a raft and as we all got on, he introduced himself. 

"Sorry if I seem a bit inexperienced.  It's my first time on a raft today.  But don't worry!!  I've watched the video loads of times!!"  He was a real joker and it continued like this all the way.  In reality the skippers are all qualified and train for years before they are allowed to lead a raft.  Most of the skippers are also kayakers and in fact have swum the entire route for familiarisation. Whilst rafting there are constantly experienced kayakers alongside as support and rescue along with a safety raft with full medical support in the event of an emergency.  You should feel safe that these guys know what they're doing.

So off we went Rafting2 using the first kilometre or so of training time, learning commands and what to do when.  We swam the first Grade 2 rapid to ensure that we knew how to do it safely.  Then we started and it was a roller coaster ride from that minute to the very last when we were spat out of the "Bad Place".

We took the first Grade 5 beautifully - a seasoned team working together Rafting3 .  Our downfall was Silverback, the longest Grade 5 rapid in the Nile - 250m of tossing water filled with washing machines, rocks, waves, standing waves and whirlpools - all as horrible (and exciting!) as they sound.  We managed to punch through the first wave but flipped the raft on the second about 25m into the rapid.  From then on it was chaos, flying bodies, water, lack of breath, choking, panic and relief as we surfaced for a gasp of air only to be sucked down again but always to re-surface and to be rescued by the incredible kayakers, hanging onto the front of the kayak and gripping it "missionary style" (!!) as they take you back to the raft.  What a thrill!!  What an adventure!! What an incredible buzz!  What a blast!  All we can say is... go and do it! 

As night drew in on Sunday, our aches and pains set in and bruising started to appear.  But as we watched the video of our mini-adventure the pain faded - although we might have been attribute it to the number of beers we consumed as we dissected the day blow-by-blow and compared our "war wounds"!

Monday started slowly as we unfolded our very stiff, aching bodies from bed and spent the day lazing about and recovering.  Tuesday passed in pretty much the same way but with Trevor having some time at last to change the replacement cartridge on our NaturePure filter.  See article NaturePure Water Filtration System - Fact or Fiction?

A sad note had entered our relationship with Anja and Jorg as we realised that the time was approaching when we would have to split up again.  With their deadline to return to Germany in February 2010 looming, they would need to speed up a bit to cover the countries and places they wanted to visit.  On the other hand, here we were more or less free to go as fast or as slow as we wanted.  Our differing approaches had the potential to cause some tension.  Anja broached the subject with me on Tuesday morning and after a long chat at the cars, we came closer to making a decision to split up but for the moment to stay together until Rwanda.  We parked the conversation there to pick it up again in Kampala after a bit more detailed route planning.

Wednesday was a very different day for Trevor as he set about learning how to kayak.  He had booked a full day lesson which involved several hours training in the morning learning how to punch through waves, do the eskimo roll and generally stay upright. 

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The afternoon was spent following the same path as the rafting for first third of the course including the Grade 3 rapids.  Needless to say, I was a bit relieved (actually, quite a lot!) when I saw Trevor walking into the campsite a couple of hours later.

Meanwhile I had spent the morning having a quick lesson from one of the the kayakers, Latif, learning how to ride the current in the bay below the resort.  With a little practice I was able to jump into the rapid, riding the current at just the right spot to be swept into the bay and right around to end up where I started off.  Woah.  With Trevor back at the campsite, we had a swim together and as we made our way up the hill back to the campsite, decided to stop at the showers halfway to rinse off.  Check out the view of the White Nile below from the showers!

SG106209  (Click on the pic for a bonus - I think this is the best view!)

#1 Gill on 9.24.2009 at 12:47 PM

Thanks for that Jan. What a butt!!!!

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Nice, hey???? :o)

#2 Tracey on 9.24.2009 at 6:09 PM

That was all for me - thanx Darling - xxx - big kiss

#3 wendy on 10.07.2009 at 4:39 PM

Ha hahaha I needed a good laugh not the photo i thought I would be viewing,Watch out Trev next they will be pimping you on the street corner.

Keith