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River Nile explored, but not exploited

Posted by Eric Ntalumbwa Monitor Publications on Tue August 31, 2021.

More efforts. As Uganda struggles to attract four million tourists annually, one of the top tourist destinations that remains unexploited is River Nile. A report published in 2013 indicated that there is potential to develop the source of the Nile into a world-class recreation center, writes Eric Ntalumbwa.

Cam Mcleay, a New Zealand adventurer led the first expedition to travel up the Nile to its source. Mcleay and his wife founded Adrift Company in 1992.
They both ran rafting operations on River Zambezi, the Blue Nile and other rivers in Ethiopia, Turkey, Nepal, and South America.

However, in their 30 years of rafting and kayaking (a kayak is a canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation) around the globe, they had never seen anything like the Nile in Uganda.

He says: “There were rapids on a scale I had never seen before. Bigger, safer and more exciting than the mighty Zambezi. When we ran the first commercial rafting trips on the Nile in August 1996, I knew that the rapids in the gorges below Victoria Falls which had earned the reputation as the most exciting, one-day raft trip in the world were no match.

Mcleay adds: “Not only does the Nile offer mighty rapids, but big slow-moving pools between the rapids allow for recovery time when the rafts flip or passengers fall overboard.”
He describes the Nile as a safe haven with heavily forested islands, and prolific vegetation, which makes it home to hundreds of remarkable bird species, monitor lizards, large colonies of bats and numerous species of unusual fish.

Mcleay ceased to be the owner of Adrift. Ninety percent of his staff then were Ugandans and most of them came from villages around the river.

After foreseeing the potential to create more tourism products, in 2003, Adrift constructed the Nile High Bungee tower, near Jinja Nile Resort, above the Nile.
He says the skills were largely transferable, and a handful of staff was trained in operating the Bungy tower safely.

Bungee jumping

Mcleay said: “The most dangerous part of the bungee jumping or rafting is driving between Kampala and Jinja. I felt that Uganda needed to promote adventures that are unique. In 1986, I climbed the Rwenzori, mountains from Zaire and I knew the tourism potential that surrounds River Nile.”

Today, river surfing, whitewater kayaking, rafting, horse riding, quad biking, zip-lining, sundowners are some of the unusual and exciting activities along the Nile, despite the fact that Adrift shut down Bungee Jump in 2017.

The unexploited wonder

Following the declaration ceremony on February 11, 2013, in Arusha, Tanzania Dr. Phillip Imler, the president of Seven Wonders stated: “The Nile is more than a historical wonder that engages most of the countries.”

Nile River is the longest river in the world which flows through nine countries, namely Egypt, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Zaire. Flowing northward through the tropical climate of eastern Africa and into the Mediterranean sea, the Nile is not known for wildlife but the Nile crocodile, the largest crocodile in Africa and one of the largest in the world, weighing up to 680kgs.

The Potential of the Nile

Dennis Ntege, the managing director of Raft Uganda, says marine tourism has not yet been fully exploited yet it has the potential to earn Uganda revenue.