Monday, January 27, 2014

Uganda, The White Nile

It is 1:30am and I am sitting in the airport in Entebbe, Uganda. I am awaiting to board my plane for a long few days of travel back to the states. We are finishing up an amazing 3 weeks of a relaxing kayaking holiday. The Zambezi crew that headed up here included John, Sean and myself. On arrival to the country we were picked up by a taxi driver that was suppose to take us to our friend Rueben home in Jinja. The ride took about 3 hours and was an exciting early morning drive with some cold beers to start our day.

With the commotion of us arriving and dogs barking, Rueben woke up at about 4:30 to come greet us and welcome us to Uganda. That first morning we decided, or well Rueben decided, that we did not need any sleep after a full day of African flights to Uganda.(Inter-African flights are like buses every else in the world, multiple stops) So instead of showing us to our sleeping quarters, the garage/hanger, we had another beer and watched the sunrise on the banks of the White Nile. Reuben’s Mrs., Courtney woke up with the sunrise as well and came out for some morning coffee with some and chat.
Dropping into Kalagala

That first day continued on to the river to paddle across from Rueben’s casa to Nile River Explores to sort Sean out with a kayak and to try out the traditional Uganda Chapatti for breakfast. A chapatti is essentially a flour type tortilla but thicker usually with an omelet and veggie mix, Ugandan breakfast burrito that soon would become our go to snack for the  trip. Then the plan after breakfast was to do what we came here to do, kayak. So after no sleep for almost 36 hours  we set off to run a section from Kalagala down to Nile Special, which would become a classic run we did plenty more times. That first day was epic but it was nice to finally crash out after 2 long days of no sleep.

The goal for our trip was vacation. Nothing to special planned, just enjoy the river and chorble hard, by no means where we necessarily on the charge mission. The first few days we went down the river with Reuben and Nalubale Rafting for the whole section, lots of flat-water. Most of the rapids are pretty straight forward and provide plenty of good surf waves. The hardest rapid, Itunda, comes right before the rafting lunch stop. It is quite a long complex rapid with some huge holes you want to avoid or maybe get the balls to have a quick surf in one of them. Basically the river is super wide with a bunch of different channels when coming to Itunda. You need to pick the right channel that is class 2ish that leads into the first big ramp down the rapid into a big hole, then left of the pencil sharpener, right of the Cuban, right of the ashtray and left of the bad place. All simple if you have someone like Anton Immler to say hey man just follow close to me, down the ramp, left, right, right, then left, happy days. No scout just follow the charger.

Surf Session Malalu
A few fun days of tagging along with the raft trip then back to some of our Kalagala to Nile Special chorble paddle sessions which would start about noon, after about 2 pots of coffee, reading, big breakfast, some stretching and just chilling on Reuben’s porch with a river view. Reuben took us on a little camping/ surf mission at a really fun play wave. It was good to sleep on the river and enjoy some good surf sessions. The end of our trip was also the Kayak Festival. Not being an expert at play boating compared to some of the local shredders and a bit of party I only entered the Itunda race on our last day. Instead of tagging along with the festival for the first few days we decided, or well I wanted to paddle for Itunda down a few more times to get comfortable with the lines.

Our last day paddling before the race we put-in at a play wave above Itunda and as I was paddling down the flat section I stopped for a few minutes on an island above Itunda to let the boys walk downstream for some safety/video. As I put my spray deck back on, splashed my face and set off alone towards Itunda I felt alive. I stopped and looked around at where I was and I had one of those moments. One of those moments where you just stop and recognize how beautiful life is and how blessed I am to be where I am at today. A quick class 5 prayer then off I went down the private paradise of the White Nile. I ended up making the final top 5 for the race which started out first with  heats of 2 guys the top 5 fastest times overall would be in an expression style final and requirements where you had to run the bad place on purpose. I was up first and to be honest, I did not really have much desire to want to do play boating moves down a class 5 rapid. Besides a quick front surf in the Cuban, my run was pretty normal. I was stoked to paddle such an amazing rapid 2 times on my last day and also to watch some of the local boys crushing it.

After the festival we boarded a taxi and where off to pick up our gear and to the airport for the long haul home. My first flight got delayed and I missed my second flight from Nairobi to Joberg, so 12 hours in a nearby airport hotel with plenty of time to blog and internet surf. Tour de Suenos continues on. Life is Grand, live the best day ever.

Plenty of fun surf

Local boys

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