Bafirawala started  waves tubing on the Nile

Among the many activities in the tourism city of Jinja in Eastern Uganda is tubing or floating on the longest river in the world, the Nile.

The activity involves sitting on inflatable tubes tied together in groups and then connected to a kayak that gives the group direction as they glide downstream through both calm and white waters.

It is a new activity and is operated by a company named, Tubing the Nile, started and owned by youthful John Bafirawala where he provides services of Zen Tubing, Kayaking, Boat Cruises and Bike Riding.

He says having grown up in Bujagali,  only 500 metres away from River Nile, his life has rotated around the river.

He started by working as a local guide at a tender age and this ensured that his passion for adventure grew with time.

“Growing up, all the adventure businesses were owned by Caucasians and Whites and it was quite a challenge that most of the employees were coming from outside the village. I grew up seeing this happening and there was a South African who had this idea but passed away in 2010. I was still a young kid but a few years later after school, I thought of doing something about a local owned adventure business that would create jobs for fellow youths in the area,” Bafirawala says.

He says this way, the idea of Tubing the Nile was birthed and using money he borrowed, he made his dream a reality.

“I used shs350,000 to print 500 copies of flyers where I included my email and phone number. I also bought a few tubes and rented a small boxed kiosk to keep them,” he says.

Bafirawala says one day he approached a white tourist who was on vacation in Bujagali and sold to him the idea of being floated on the longest river in the world.

“I asked if he liked the idea of sitting on a tube to float which he bought. He paid shs100,000. I got a tube and asked him to sit and went into the waters. I also got a colleague who had a kayak that I asked to pull him,” he says.

He says this was an experience to remember as the tube was small and client didn’t balance well but it kept flipping him off and Bafirawala had to get into the water to hold the tube for over 6km back to the shore.

“I got numb and frozen but I still I couldn’t give up and had to finish what  I  had started. The journey was finally done but at the end of the day, all the shs100, 000 had gone into expenses.”

He however says he never gave up and a few days later, two Ugandan couples approached him for quad biking.

“I decided to sell to them the tubing activity. They accepted and paid a total of $100 and this was my initial capital for my Tubing the Nile company.”

Since then, he has never looked back.

Bafirawala operates in Jinja, Kimaka road at Bungee Uganda next to Jinja Nile Resort.

“We have a website and social media platforms where we get clients from. Also, other clients are got by word of mouth but most of our customers come through referrals,” he says.

He is proud of the growth that his company has achieved throughout the years.

“My company has grown from having one equipment to employing more young people. The company owns a vehicle. I have personally made big steps in life with this company supporting me,” he says.


Bafirawala says his journey has not been without challenges.

“It was quite a challenge when I was starting because I could take a month without a customer then Covid-19 hit after a few years of just getting started.”

He says whereas he initiated the idea of tubing on the Nile, many other people have copied it eating into his revenues.

“Some of those who copied and pasted my idea are putting people’s lives at risk in terms of safety since many don’t know how to swim. This ends up killing business.”

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