Last week I was fortunate enough to make the kayaking pilgrimage back to the Nile River. What made this trip different from previous journeys to the Nile was the fact that some of the most spectacular rapids in the world had disappeared less than a week before with the completion of the Bujigali Dam. These missing rapids included, what I had previously called my favourite rapid on the river, Escape Hatch. So by heading up the Nile I was in denial that anything drastic had changed on the river.
I soon discovered that the river had been drastically transformed by the dam with km’s of classic high volume whitewater disappearing for good. This transformation did not, however, deter from the quality of the kayaking. The water level was the highest I have seen it since my first trip there in 2003, this made the remaining rapids soft and scary. This water level also opens up some of the bigger rapids which I need to tackle at some point in the future.
My trip, this time, focused primarily on the hairy lemon. I was heading up with my dad and, despite all my previous trips, I have not spend more than a night on the isolated island next to Nile Special wave. The speed at which life moves is a little slower at the lemon compared to the NRE resort up north. This makes it a great spot for fishing very means of fall into the ‘African way’ of life. All the kayaker friendly resorts on the river are amazing and there is no way to compare them since they offer very different atmospheres in one of the most amazing locations in the world.
As my trip was only a week we were very keen to get onto the river as soon as possible, being one kayak short however forced me to head up the newly completed Buj Dam to see Jamie at kayakthenile.com. The site of the fallen rapids being tainted by wake boarders and open top canoes installed a fear that there was nothing left for me to paddle. As mentioned above, this fear was short lived. We spent the next few days surfing Nile Special and tripping the river fromOvertime down to the Hairy Lemon once, and from Kalagala falls down to the Lemon a couple time after.
There were a number of additional things, other than the whitewater, that made this trip amazing. The first aspect was that fact that I was able to get my dad down the river again (he came up with me in 2007). He was very nervous on the water at first, but was able to hold his own in a very short space of time.
GoPro cameras also contributed to the trip by lending my a pair of Hero 2’s to tryout. These mounted cameras were perfect on this wide river as videoing from the bank is painful and often takes serious effort. The feature that most impressed me was the “time lapse” mode which allows one to take a photo every 0.5, 2, 5 … seconds. I was able to mount the camera on my Fluid Nemesis and get some awesome, very high quality, action photos on the water. The video mode, as always was impressive, and hopefully I’ll have a video churned out in a few days.
To sum up, this trip re-enforced that long standing love I have for the White Nile. The rapids are absolutely spectacular, while being friendly enough to show intermediate paddlers down. The people are very welcoming and helpful and the views are breathtaking. This is a must see kayak destination for all white water kayakers. There is also very exciting news about the next Nile festival, I am not able to share all the exact plans but, as with the previous events, this is a festival you don’t want to miss.