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At Busiika I conquered my phobias, finally

The afternoon sunshine could not have made the fear of being more than 10 metres off the ground any worse.

It is not everyday that one has to walk on a small bamboo stem held by ropes high above the ground, with prospects of falling. Behind me was Becky and ahead of me Joan, two colleagues I met on this trip who were equally scared.

Below us a choir of others we had travelled with cheered us on to go harder and complete these “life- threatening” obstacles, recording videos and taking photographs.

What if this thing breaks? What if I did not tie my safety harness firmly? These are the questions that ran through my head each time I looked down to the brown ground where I could land in case I missed a step.

A participant taking on one of the obstacle challenges

This is Extreme Adventure Park, Busiika, a place I have always wanted to visit and find out whether I really don’t fear heights. Located 32km from Kampala on Gayaza-Zirobwe road, this popular park will refill your adrenaline levels.

On several occasions I have tried to convince myself that actually I do not fear heights and I had started to believe it, but this was only because I had never been up to a heights challenge.

Recently opportunity presented itself when I joined a group of young travellers under their flagship, Ndoto Travels to Busiika, seeking adventure; and adventure indeed we got!

At the park, we found a group of people being taken through team- building activities that included fitness drills before any activity.

Although our group missed it because of the number of bookings, we went straight to the obstacle challenges which I was okay with since the previous week I had been jogging and exercising in anticipation of these challenges.

This explains why I was among the few who did not complain of muscle pulls thereafter. After signing a disclaimer form, we were taken through safety guidelines and how to manoeuvre the different obstacles. The excitement we had while on the ground could not even let us think about what awaited us above the ground.

Some of our colleagues, especially the girls, developed cold feet, opting to stay away from the challenge altogether because the fear in them overpowered the excitement at the prospects of going up there.

Others such as Proscovia chose to go for easier challenges like climbing the 10-metre net and subsequent zip line.

“I paid my money for this but I am fine not going up there. I am good; maybe I will try the bouncy castles,” said one member of our group.

As I reached the first stage with zigzag wooden pieces, the excitement was replaced by a small layer of fear, but I had not come all this way to chicken out.

I wanted to try out the thrilling zip line, which only could be accessed after going through a series of obstacles I had started. Climbing, balance, physical and mental strength were going to be my pillars as I took on the challenge.

Participants doing the ziplining

We had to walk past zigzag wooden pieces that are not stable, balance on ropes, ride a bamboo raft mid-air, the spider web and climb past a three-metre wall before reaching the highly-desired 147-metre-high zip line.

Here I was, up in the skies and every step I took had to be calculated. Although my aim was to complete all the obstacles in fewer than 15 minutes, I was hindered by the fact that I had underestimated them and that the people ahead of me were doing it rather slowly.

Before long, I was on the zip line screaming my way to the ground in celebration of a big victory. Victory over my phobia for heights.

Paintball

We then headed to the paintball section, a part of this place that gives you a feeling of being in real combat; kill or be killed.

A player in action during paintball

The game is played by 10 people in two groups of five. Within the enclosure of this section are obstacles akin to those used by soldiers at quarter guards; however, these are mainly wooden and old car tires. They are supposed to be used as our cover from enemy fire.

The goal of the game is capturing a flag. Each group has a flag planted behind them that is supposed to be protected. Get to the opponents’ flag, win the game. Simple.

I was among the first lot that started the game; one we lost! Walking to our side of the ground felt like I was heading for real war and that I was not supposed die. My heart kept racing all through, only to cool down a bit when the first paint bullet was shot after the whistle.

Being that I had convinced myself to personally retrieve the enemy flag, I made up my mind to start running towards it, hoping no one would be successful in aiming at me.

I started running and taking cover behind obstacles, dodging bullets and asking my teammates to cover me. Much like Rambo!

However, I could not retrieve the flag in the end as in self-defence, I shot at an opponent who had aimed her gun at me.

I shot her at close range, which was against the rules of the game and, therefore, I was disqualified only to see my team lose a few minutes after my exit. If I were to go back to Busiika, paintball would be my first priority. I thoroughly enjoyed that!

kamogajonathan50@gmail.com

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