Driving across Owen Falls Dam in Uganda, the large structure that holds back the water from Lake Victoria, I glanced down on the still waters to view the source of the White Nile. A couple of months ago, I floated on Lake Tana in Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile. Now it was time to get a closer look at the other starting point of the mystical Nile River, Lake Victoria, the lake that feeds the White Nile.
Except this was a more intimate look.
Rather then floating quietly across the lake, I was on my way to the launching point to white water raft the Nile, one of the premier rafting destinations in the world.
On my inflatable raft were people from Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Vermont. The guide, Jeffery, asked our boatload of people, “How many of you have rafted before?”
A few of us slowly raised our hands.
“Good, this is my first time,” he said with a laugh.
Our company called Adrift ran a very professional program.
Before we set off for more exciting waters, we went through various safety exercises, like flipping the raft and swimming underneath, learning how to position your body in the water and how to lift your life jacket for extra buoyancy.
During the next seven hours we crossed over 10 miles of river and 12 major rapids, four that reach Class 5 ratings, the highest rating for rafting.
Travel offers the chance for real adventure, and when these opportunities present themselves, I jump, or float in this case.
With Jeffery in the back of the boat coaching us with directions, and stroke counts, we crashed through wild rapids that had names like, “The Bad Spot” or “Fifty Fifty.”
Surrounded by boiling white water as I clung to the side of my blue raft, Jeffery yelled out, “hang on.”
He didn't have to tell me twice.
In a flash I was bobbing in the mad white water like a cork - with oars and bodies scattered about after our raft flipped over.
The next thing I knew I opened my eyes and all around me was greenish white water.
There's something wrong with the picture, I said to myself.
I lifted on the life jacket, nothing. The next thing I felt was an arm grabbing me, and up I came.
It was Carl from Sweden.
Carl later told me: “I saw you twirling around and then boom you were just gone, sucked under, so I grabbed you before you completely disappeared.”
“Thanks Carl,” I said, “I was getting tired of drinking all that Nile water.”
Three times we flipped our raft.
Certain stretches of the river offered a quiet moment to relax and enjoy the scenery long the bank. Greens of various colors, shades and hues enveloped the Nile. At times rows of corn found their way to the edge of the River. Other times dense vegetation of shrubs, trees and brush hid what ever was underneath. Occasionally the bank was lined with local people washing clothes or fishing.
At the start of the day, Jeffery asked, “Do you want a mild or wild trip?”
A couple members of the group said “wild.” Jeffery fulfilled the request. He showed us the part of the White Nile that is still wild.