January 19, 2008

A Ugandan Winter

I've had a few days to hibernate away and get used to cold weather back here in the UK; and I've also had a chance to reflect back on my month in Uganda. I had a lot of expectations and ideas about what it would be like, having seen and heard so much about the White Nile section of rapids near Jinja, in the south of country. In many ways it was what I thought it would be but it was also quite different and went beyond what I had imagined.

I feel sad that I wasn't able to get to the river before the building of dam began and from what I gather there is a lot less play than there used to be but the river is still amazing despite the recent changes. The best spot is by far 'Nile Special' of course and with such big volume, it's awesome fun and everyday on the river was fantastic, obviously the constant sunshine and warm water helps!

We split our time between staying at Eden Rock at the top of the day one section at Bujagali and the Hairy Lemon Island resort at the end of the day two section. Both places have their highlights. Staying up the top makes you feel much more like you're in Africa with being able to boda into Jinja and interact more with the locals. Runs down to Silverback were great fun and the boda rides back almost just as good. While we were there Pas and Jon hired two bikes for the day with good intentions to run our own shuttles during the fuel crisis Uganda was experiencing, however we quickly realised this was actually quite difficult and I had a much better idea anyways; the first annual International Boda Boda Challenge. I set a track around the Eden Rock campsite and teams of 2 had to negotiate the course while picking bits of gear along the way and not spilling a bottle of water in their basket in the front. Obviously they has to go as fast as possible but penalties were given for missing target and the amount of water lost. With 6 international teams from 4 countries, the competition was tough and the standard, well, not really so high but very entertaining. A video of the event will follow soon.

The Jigger Jigger Trophy - The prize for the Boda Challenge

Alli on flying on Silverback

Down at the Hairy Lemon, it's isolated but blissful. We were fortunate to have high levels the majority of time we were there so paddling on the wave was possible. When it was lower, at tow on levels, initially I struggled with the rope but when I finally got it I was stoked! Once you've figured it out, it's actually quite easy, although getting tangled up in it is pretty damn scary. Christmas Day at a Lemon was pretty special; my first on spent in a hot country and we drank champagne in the 'jacuzzi' area.

Jon and Alli on Christmas Day

Another highlight was running Kalagala Falls; here's short clip of me

When Jon returns, I'll have my camera and tapes back and we'll have some footage up.

Another day we spent paddling the whole section from Bujagali to the Lemon to save us doing the journey in the matatu with our stuff. What a mission, it took about 6 hours, no where near the 2 and a half something hour record, but it was great to check out Itunda for the first time and see couple of the guys running it.

All in all, I had a awesome month paddling, relaxing and partying in Africa, can't complain that's for sure!


KayakMind said...

Nice video. I posted it as the featured clip of the day on KayakMind.com. Cheers, Chris

Dangerous said...

Fuck me Gaz - i wrote something a minute ago and then cus i had to register i forgot what i said!!! Fair play tho going down those rapids takes balls!! Bit like watching Swindon really!!



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