Last weekend, the month-long domestic tourism initiative of the Pearl Guide Magazine with support from Partners; MTN Uganda, Total Uganda, Nile Special and Jumia Travel, drew to a beautiful, nerve-wrecking and incredibly worthwhile end in Uganda’s tourism hub, Jinja. The Uganda Travel Month has seen over four hundred fifty Ugandans travel to four of Uganda’s top tourist destinations, namely; Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and finally Adrift Adventures in Jinja.
On Saturday morning, an excited group filled up five minibuses and set out for Jinja, in anticipation of a massive Travel Month closing party, but without any idea how physically and emotionally engaging the day’s activity that awaited them would be. A stop at Namawojolo highway market resolved all of the chicken cravings and laid a much needed base for butterflies that were to be encountered in the following hour. On arrival at the Adrift Adventures camp, no unpacking needed to be done before the day’s real business.
The inflatable rafts were all set, helmets lined up, the adrenaline pumping and the excitement was palpable; before the nerves set in. The thing with group activity is that you’d expect all the noise around you to drown out the voices in your head but that’s only wishful thinking. However, having made it this far all of over seventy people got their briefing on safety, the Dos and Don’ts – I’m not sure who still remembers any of it. And off we went!
Four hours of paddling, friendly banter, yelling for dear life and a lot of laughing followed as each crew tried to keep their raft afloat and find a way to navigate the Great Nile River. One moment, you were on top of the raft and the next, it was on top of you. In that scary, dark, really dark split second that you were fully immersed in the water without a ray of light in sight, you prayed, you contemplated this decision and then there was light!
A much welcome lunch break on a scenic little island (that little place is Oh So Heavenly!) was followed by a contented stroll back to the safety of the bus. This was not without its aches and joys. One longing stare at the level six (oh is it 7! Heh) rapids whose resolve we didn’t test, and a sigh of relief that it was over.
Everybody should raft at least once in their life. Your body needs to feel a myriad of extreme emotions, good, bad, the scare, and the thrill all at once. The confusion that this cocktail leaves your entire system, without leaving you numb!
With one hurdle down, we had two to go; the jump and a hectic party. When we were showered and changed, the Radio City madness was calling out to all party folk, even though some of us still had a little more adrenaline to expend. And off went to face our fears of falling. Did you know that the fear of falling is one of the few inborn fears in humans? No amount of comforting and/or inspirational talk about bucket lists and just how ‘not-so-bad’ it is can fully prepare you for the moment that you stand over ….m above the Nile you’re about to be cast into. When the screams die down and you find your way into the safety raft, you either hate it or absolutely love it.
It helps to have excited friends over at the bar cheering you on as you reflect upon your life’s decisions in that moment, but even more some great music playing over the loud speakers which you absolutely can’t hear over your own screams or wails, whatever your case might be. The night was young. The food was hot, and so were our neighbors everywhere you looked, literally! Uganda really has beautiful people! You’ve probably seen that much food, drink and music at a party but it surely wasn’t by the Source of the Nile, and neither were the vibrations in the air brought to you by Radio City. The party will not soon be forgotten.
It’s safe to say that whether your bedtime came at 9pm or 4am, you were glad to have been a part of it. A special shout out to the host of MTN Uganda’s Facebook LIVE recording, for he did not help our weak knees as we waiting for the big jump, but surely made the time pass fast enough between the lining up and getting strapped into the harnesses. It was an unforgettable weekend of many firsts for many of us, and sincere thanks go to the Pearl Guide Magazine team and partners for putting it all together. Until next year!
And for the rest of you, when you do take the bungee jump, May the Force be with you…
[Images: Daniel Gilbert Bwette]