4 Life Lessons Learned Rafting Down The Nile River

Nature and adrenaline is arguably my favorite adventure combo. So when my friend invited me to raft the White Nile, you bet we were on the first 12-hour bus from Kenya to Uganda. It’s not simply the thrill of a new place or experience that lights me up, but the insightful life lessons that are brought forth when I step outside of my comfort zone. It’s no surprise that braving Grade V rapids, as a novice rafter, in the longest river in the world, taught me a few things. Nature’s always been a great teacher.

Gracefully capsizing on “Vengeance”

Here are a few things I was reminded of:

  1. If you try and don’t succeed, try again
    Even if you’re paddling hard and harmoniously with your fellow boat mates, you aren’t guaranteed to make it through a Grade V rapid unscathed. People will fall out of the raft, or the boat will flip and you’ll get sucked into a liquid tornado. It gets chaotic. There will always been unforeseen obstacles, especially when you’re at the mercy of a force greater than yourself. Stay positive, do your best, get back up and try again.
  2. Remain calm when underwater
    Not panicking when you’re submerged is perhaps the most arduous effort. I was caught in what felt like a permanent press spin cycle after our boat flipped on a rapid so-appropriately-named “Vengeance”. I used all of my physical and emotional energy to swim to safety, but it was a futile effort. The river needed to take its course. When challenges arise, the best thing to do is stay calm and enjoy the ride. Oh, and if you enjoy epic fails, check out this video of us getting swallowed by Vengeance.
  3. Embrace chaos
    Though this section of the Nile is actually quite safe, there’s some obvious risk involved when you throw yourself at the mercy of a raging 4,000-mile river. There are rocks, waterfalls (that you accidentally float down backwards), and most of the rapids look diabolical at best. It can be challenging and scary, which is EXACTLY why you should embrace it. Why? Because epic growth happens when you push your limits and leap outside of your comfort zone. Also, it’s crazy fun. As Buddha said, “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”
  4. Always be grateful
    Even if you’re underwater, or amidst chaos, or failing in life — BE GRATEFUL. It is the greatest of all virtues and can actually improve psychological and physical health. Shift your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. With this perspective, no situation will be insurmountable.

Our rafting trip concluded with one of life’s greatest joys: an ice-cold beer. Oh, and amazing new friendships, a new life perspective, and irreplaceable memories. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone traveling through Africa, especially to those who viscerally reject the mere thought.

If you want recommendations for tour guides or to nerd out about whitewater rafting (now that I’m CLEARLY an expert), leave a comment below!

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