When I am on a backpacking trip, there is one expensive thing I don’t even question spending money on: ADVENTURE. It’s always a little costly, it’s always worth it. I budget an extra 400 bucks/ month so that I can bungee, whitewater raft, or canyon. It seems like each area has their “adventure niche” and I’m always determined to find it.
Originally in Uganda, my main adventure was going to be trekking the Bwindi Jungle near the Congo border in the hopes of stumbling across the great silverback gorillas. Because of safety issues, I didn’t make it at that time (but will definitely go back one day). Instead, I headed North to the source of the Nile: Jinja.
Views from the hostel porch were stunning
The Backpackers Hostel in Kampala was the meeting place where a free shuttle took me to a sister hostel outside Jinja 8km, right on the river bank. The adventure shuttle bus was full of tourists. Just kidding. Because of Kampala being unsafe at the time I was there, I only ever saw a couple other tourists in 5 weeks.
Explorers River Camp (Jinja)
Within the hostel group “Nile River Explorers” which has various hostels, this location was the only one located on the River with access to a small beach area. I was promised multiple times that I would not get eaten by a crocodile or hippo. In the middle of the green jungle, down a red dirt path, armed guards met us for our arrival.
Pros of the hostel:
- other tourists to hang out with (finally!)
- free shuttle from Kampala
- fabulous free BBQ while you overlook an unbelievable view
- one night free stay if you book an adventure
- very decent prices- 7 to camp, 12 for dorm, 30 for a room, and 35 for a jungle tent
- hot shower, mosquito net, free WIFI, clean
- tons of adventure options: rafting, bungee, kayak, quads, bikes
Cons of the hostel:
- a little loud from music and monkeys on the tip roof
the path out of the hostel, women selling handicrafts
beach & view credit: Nile River Explorers website
Rafting Grade 5’s on the Nile
The day I arrived I went on the Full Day Grade 5 rafting tour option. They have other varieties like half day and less intense rapids. I had rafted before in whitewater as well as drunken trips like in Cesky Krumlov but this was SERIOUS whitewater! The cost for full day was $125 which was very fair! Lunch was included… half a pineapple. Afterward, we had the option to buy a CD with the photos (another 20 bucks I always end up spending) and they fed us until we were stuffed. Most backpackers stayed up late with us drinking on the porch overlooking the river. We still managed to wake up early the next AM for some spontaneous bungee jumping.
Nothing I’ve done so far compares to rafting on grade 5’s. Bungee is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and canyoning in Interlaken was exhilarating, but this is because you have to do things yourself and it’s all in your own hands. It goes against every instinct in my body to jump of a cliff. With rafting, there is no control. Unless your a pro kayaker, you’re just in a raft with a paddle you barely know how to use- it’s the current that has control, and hopefully your guide! I can’t explain it properly in words so here are the photographs!
our guide was fantastic and purposely flipped us often!
There were guys on rocks around the rapids and in kayaks ready to save lives!
guide: “Keep your heads down or you’ll get hurt!” me: ignoring everything
you can see here the guide helped to flip us
my awesome rafting buds!
Rafting was incredible and lasted for about 6 hours. I would recommend it anyone and would do it again! I’d love to try kayaking but I don’t want to die. At the end of our trip, everyone was getting ready to walk back and the guide said there was an ungraded rapid just down the river that we could try if we didn’t tell anyone. So I’m only telling the whole internet. Only me and one other guy went down, Tom, who you can see pictured above. The guide was goofing around and ended up falling off unable to catch up and Tom and I went through the rapid alone. It was huge and terrifying and awesome! I flew out of the raft almost immediately and went through the rapid with just my vest on! Awesome!!
I was not asked to write a review by Explorers River Camp, nor did they discount my rafting. Have you rafted grade 5’s anywhere? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done? Tell me about it!
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