So as you can tell from my previous blog posts and social media snaps, I had an amazing time in Uganda, back in June. I went over to volunteer with EAP as well as trek to find gorillas (read blog posts about both experiences here and here). We also had the choice of an extension activity in-between the trek and opening our playground. I (nervously) chose ‘High Adrenaline’ which meant I spent 2 days white water kayaking the rapids along the Nile with Nile River Explorers followed by a relaxing day on The Hairy Lemon. It was AWESOME! So of course I had to share it with you all.
Nile River Explorers (NRE) became our home-away-from-home whilst we were in Uganda, inbetween activities it was our base. The dorms were basic but well equipped with comfy bunk beds and mosquito nets. In the morning we were (amusingly) woken up by monkeys running along the metal roofs. But getting up this early wasn’t so bad when you have this beautiful view of the Nile.
Just wow.Uganda is known as ‘The Jewel of Africa’ and its easy to see why!
One of the best parts about NRE was the food, oh they know how to keep travellers and expats happy! The menu on offer is brilliant; a wide range of breakfast, delicious burgers and £1 beers (many were consumed throughout our trip) as well as a kayak paddle full of tequila shots (1B know how to party). I highly recommend the banana and passion fruit smoothie plus the coleslaw chicken burger, yyyuuummmmyyy.
The site has many activities to offer; fishing, horseback riding, quad biking and a zipline into The Nile that you MUST try. They also have a small jetty where you can relax or set off on a kayak adventure. And thats exactly what I did! Starting with basic kayak training on the lake, our Devon born-and-bred instructor Ben took us through manoeuvres and safety procedures. After a small lunch we had a short journey to the dam, there we did a few rapids ranging from ripples on Grade 1 to a Grade 3 rapid called Jaws, it was scary at first but awesome once complete! A gentle kayak back to the bus where we were welcomed by a cold beer!
As always our night ended with booze, a lot of bad signing and table top dancing!
The next day we left on the bus, with a rolex for breakfast, to the other NRE site – Backpackers. After suiting up, we heading for the more advanced Grade 4 and 5 rapids. But then the nerves started to kick in. They got even worst when we practised the tandem kayak roll, a safety procedure you must do if the kayak goes underwater. You bend forward, hold the kayak and your breath, waiting for your guide to flip you both back up. Difficult but these guys are STRONG and build like Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it wasn’t anything strenuous for them. However its a scary situation so I started to freak out even more, to the point of wanting to give up.
But my guide Hassan was brilliant and with some tough love of ‘You’ll be fine’ we were off! Did first waterfall/rapid and it was awesome! I felt better the more rapids we did and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. We relaxed in the pools of water inbetween rapids whilst the crew were constantly making us laugh. Now I can officially say that I have ridden the Nile rapids and didn’t fall (little bit proud).
After the last rapid we had a delicious BBQ (Josh was ecstatic that they had hummus) then headed to the boat for The Hairy Lemon. We were the first to arrive so had a tour of the facilities. This camping island is located right in the middle of the Nile, the only way to reach it is by a short boat journey across a river! It offers dorms, camping and private shacks. There are also actives on offer as well as areas for pure relaxation, my favourite being the hammocks. The food is also local, filling and comforting, a true home-away from-home. A perfect place to enjoy the Nile.
Waking up on this beautiful island the next morning was bliss. Even the view out of my dorm bunk bed was lovely! Breakfast of mini pancakes, omelett and fruit before swimming in the Nile, sunbathing on the beach and exploring around the natural pool.
We had a blissful day of chilled music, chatting, cards games and food including an afternoon cup of tea with home baked goods, which was just what I needed! Later on the team decided a game of water Volleyball would be a good idea, it was fun but made slightly tricker by the current. After dinner the stars came out and looked amazing, confirming how magical and unique this place was.
We woke up early the next morning to pack up and head back to NRE to open the playground the next day, but not without purchasing some baked goods for the journey…
Huge thank you to everyone at NRE and The Hairy Lemon for such a wonderful time in Uganda. And as always a huge thank you to the amazing EAP team for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to the best group, 1B! Very lucky to be stuck with you lot for 3 weeks 😉
When will you be exploring The Nile and Uganda?
Come join my adventures: Twitter & Instagram : @emmasoffagain
[DISCLAIMER – not all photos are my own, some were taken my team members who have shared them with me]