4 Life Lessons Learned Rafting Down The Nile River

Nature's always been a great teacher.

Nature and adrenaline is arguably my favorite adventure combo. So when my pal invited me to raft the White Nile while I was living in Kenya, you bet we were on the first 12-hour bus to Jinja, Uganda. It’s not only 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.

Here are a few things I was reminded of:

  1. If you try and don’t succeed, try again
    Even if you’re paddling arduously and harmoniously with your fellow boat mates, you aren’t guaranteed to make it through a 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 the ultimate challenge. 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. Check out this video of us getting swallowed up 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 some studies suggest it can actually improve your 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. If you're traveling through East Africa and are looking for an adventure-filled, revelatory experience, rafting down the Nile is just the thing for you. 

Published: February 1, 2017

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Lindsay Sanders

Oakland

By day I run communications at a nonprofit in Kenya. The rest of the time I'm trying to figure out creative ways to drive social change, planning my next adventure, or pretending I play guitar.

Explore Egypt

Adventure

Hike up Mount Sinai