Having done the whole bungee jumping experience a few years ago, I figured the next natural step would be zip lining. After much procrastination, I finally got round to it. That right there was an experience!
In Uganda, there are two places one can go zip lining;Busika Adventure Park, which offers extreme adventure activities mostly for companies or individuals looking to do team building, along with zip lining they also offer paint ball shooting and rope obstacle challenges. The other is Griffin Camp site Lugazi which I opted for as it seemed like more of a thrill.
Griffin Camp is 44Kms east of Kampala on the Jinja highway, having spent the night in Jinja at the lush 2 Friends Guest House, my companion,(I like using this word, it’s like four seconds away from being concubine, Ha!)Sam and I set off midmorning after the receptionist made inquiries and got us directions. From Jinja, it was a matter of getting to Boda or motorbike rider to take us to the camp site about 7Kms away, the Camp people pay for the bike ride upon arrival. It’s been pretty hot lately, a good 33 degrees C that day. The dust was just about as epic as the Kakira Sugar Works plantations lining the road we took.
The Campsite has very basic structures, an office which I didn’t bother investigating an the saddest looking restaurant this side of town are in view.S signed us in, with the 60,000ugx each paid. Its (Its 50$ for foreigners) we got fitted with the appropriate equipment. Good God I am bad with names, was it Badru,Haruna?I think it started with an H,I can’t remember, the man fitting us with the stuff was very pleasant, explaining the basics of the zip lining process and what not. It involves climbing these ancient trees. A 38M long tree to start. There are a total of 6 trees several meters apart. The whole excursion spans 300meters,in all a 2 hour affair. A young girl, Brenda, walked us to the starting point. It was a brisk, let’s go deep into the forest 10 minute walk, give or take, I hate walking!
We got to the starting point, a majestic tree with hooks lining it all the way to the top to help with the climbing, we sat around waiting for the guides who were running late, I didn’t particularly mind as the weight of the situation was starting to sinking in! As one that is deathly afraid of heights, I will never understand what posses me with the adventurous spirit to do what l always feel like are death defying acts.
The guards came through eventually. Baker (I spent more time with him so I remember his name) and another young man. It was decided I would go up first. I’ve climbed some trees in my day, I was quite the tom boy once upon a time, I recall a particular tree in the neighborhood back in ’96 which I would happily climb just enough to impress the boys along with the tree house my childhood friends and I had, I’m no monkey girl but I did alright then and was determined to do good here as well. Everything was fine; I think it helps if you are in some kind of shape, until I foolishly decided to look down! On top of that, my helmet slid off my head, the strap choking me S&M style, the fear, the horror, what on earth was I doing?
The guide (not Baker), was very helpful, he hoisted me up with each climb. Once I got to the top though, all bets were off; I was trembling so bad, I couldn’t stand. The amount of dry mouth I had going on from the Adrenaline was brutal! Occasionally looking round at the beautiful expanse of canopies, I was too petrified to appreciate it, I stayed sitting on the platform, transfixed on one spot, breathing really shallow.S came up like spiderman, all animated and what not, I was having none of it, I’d tried having a conversation with the guide to no avail ,it’s impossible to concentrate on forming words once you realize the platforms sway with the wind Jesus take me now!
Once Baker came up, it was time to begin, Since I couldn’t stand on my own, being firmly rooted on the ground getting well acquainted with the dirt,S helped me up, the minute I stood up, tears just started streaming down my face all while I murmured something about not wanting to do it anymore. I barely noticed, ok, I’m going to call him Dave for the purposed of this story, had zip lined across. As I stood there weeping, I contemplated descending the tree but no that just wasn’t plausible so I figured, fuck it, let’s go!
I half listened as Baker explained how strong and safe the wire was, just the other day they had a 120Kg individual on it and he was fine, yeah right! I slowly, and I mean slowly shimmied my way to the end of the platform, Baker asked if I felt like I was being supported,oh yes, that harness was holding me tighter than those lovers embrace situations in the Mills&Boon novels I read as I kid. And then I was off!
There was a moment I was literally dying of fear, then I was sliding down this wire and what do you know, it was the most pleasant thing ever, the wind in my face, the tree tops going by, I actually turned back to see B and S thinking,wait,,is this why I was shaking? BRING IT!
D was there to help me onto platform2,my fear had subsided a little bit, wearing my dark aviators did help as well as I couldn’t really see how far I would be falling.No,it wasn’t cheating.
We took turns going down the line so we could take pictures of each other; the distance between platforms 2 and 3 was longer. At this point, the sound of River Musamya below intensifies and as such the anticipation to go over it. After platforms 3 and 4 it occurs to me the distance between them increases, I can’t really tell you by how much though. Platforms 4 and 5, with the river rushng against the rocks below in full view are truly a sight to behold.
At this point I took the sunglasses’ off as I’d got some newly acquired balls and having way too much fun not to look. The boys were so proud of me at this point. It was particularly lengthy and enjoyable zip lining to the 6th and final platform. There is just no other feeling or view like it.
I can’t believe I thought of giving up! The guides had mentioned two men before us; the first guy climbed half o the first tree and decided to call it quits. The 2nd man went all the way to the top but couldn’t go through with it. As I reached the platform, I thought of them and missed opportunity.
The trees around this point are higher up, 40M.This being the last platform, the trajectory of the line changes; it’s slanted so you end up at square one, or near it. Up on the platform, I had several moments to myself. It was hands down one of the most peaceful moments I’ve had in a long time. The intense sound of the water below, the expanse of green, birds chirping, the, what had now become ,the epic sway of the platform was all very much well recived.Everything else just seemed to melt away. As always all good things come to an end, it was time for the end.
I have to say, the final descent was a little underwhelming, the final zip line stretches 87M across the River so the guides have to keep stopping you as you go along because should they let you go down at full speed, you are going to break everything in your body, as evidenced by the backpack they sent on after me to prove how fast and dangerous it can be.In the end I was glad to be back on solid ground and after the trek back to the reception, the adventure was done.
Zip lining was an amazing experience, dare I say much preferred to the horror that is bungee jumping. One of these days, instead of going to the bar, put that 60,000ugx in your pocket, fuel your car jump on a bike, taxi, Uber, frog jump it, whatever floats your boat and try it out. Even with the pain in my hands and arms from gripping onto my harness for dear life, random bruise on my thigh, it was all very much worth it.