When you reach Sagana, the instructors give a briefing of what you are meant to do when you go water rafting.
First up, before you enter the raft, you must wear a well fitting helmet that will not fall out, and a properly fastened life jacket which is very important because this will save your life in case you fall out of the boat.
The rope around the raft is the one you are meant to hang onto for dear life when the rapids get too crazy. The instructor, a hilarious Brit, managed to put the fear of God in us by telling us about how there are crocodiles in the Tana river who may grab our paddles with their teeth. The really large crocodiles may try twist the paddle out of our hands, and he was telling us how to wrestle with the crocodiles Crocodile Dundee style
rolls eyes. We were also warned about snakes and how they may jump into the raft and how we should all move to one side of the boat.
We were told about how one must lie on their back in case they fall into the water, and we were warned against trying to wade in the water since the river bed is reminiscent of Nairobi’s bad pot hole ridden roads but even worse. There is also a safety rope that is about 20 meters long that is kept in the boat which is used to rescue people who fell out and are far away from the raft. By the end of the brief, I was terrified of getting into the water.
We had to drive out of the camp to get to the starting course, where the river is upstream. It is about a fifteen minutes drive from the White waters camp. We wore our helmets, securely fastened our life jackets and picked out our paddles. The next step was getting into the rafts, where the river guides gave us more in depth instructions.
If you look at the picture of the raft, the front is the side right next to the man with the AIG shirt. The handle is what the person seated infront should grab a hold of if the rapids get too rough. The round tubing inside the raft is where you should secure your feet under in case you feel like the raft is about to tip over. We were instructed to sit on the rim of the raft, but if things got too rocky we were told to seat inside the raft (like where the life jackets are).
We were also taught how to hold the paddle correctly and how to forward and back paddle. Forward paddle steers the raft frontwards and back paddle means vice versa.
We were 7 people in each raft, inclusive of the river guide. Our river guide was this cheeky, funny old British guy, he was really cool. So we set off into the Tana river, which looked like this:
It is advisable NOT to carry any valuables when you go water rafting since they could get wet or lost in the water so I could not take any pictures 😦
The start of the course was pretty calm, our river guide did most of the paddling for us. The river bed was reminiscent of the Amazon, think of that river in the movie Anaconda. I was seated at the front which was not the brightest idea because when the raft veers into the bushes, we were the shields for everybody else. I was so scared I would come face to face with a snake, I absolutely abhor snakes *shivers* and that briefing they gave us did not help matters.
I am glad to report we did not come across any snakes or crocodiles, those guys were just yanking our chain.
The river was rocky, and we reached sections where the rapids were high, and yours truly fell out of the raft. We had gone over a large rock and the boat tipped over on my side, I thought we were capsizing, but I was the only one who fell out. I touched the floor of the river bed and in my mind I was thinking ‘Oh God I have landed on a crocodile’.
The guide was instructing everyone loudly to hoist me into the boat using my life jacket, he said it with such urgency which freaked me out even more. But thankfully they got me back into the raft.
We reached a section which was rocky and we had to get out of the rafts and let them float past the bad terrain, then we got back into the raft and headed over to rougher parts of the water. I shifted positions so I sat in the middle which was much better.
The sections where the rapids were high were so much fun, the guys on my boat were hilarious. There were 2 people who could not swim so they were a bit more scared then the rest of us but they were good sports! We went down this section of the river in this photo, which is right next to a small waterfall when you take the corner. There is a very beautiful rainbow right next to the waterfall, such an amazing sight to behold. We steered the raft right under the waterfall.
After that section the water was pretty much calm, and we attacked other rafts and pushed them into the water, our guide is just evil, he threw me into the river twice! He attacks when you least expect it, like when you are hoisting someone up and he pushes you so you all go back down into the water 🙂
The course was about 28 km long and it was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I suggest you try it one of this days. It costs Kshs 6000 and you can get all the details on their website White Water Kenya.