Saturday, February 6, 2010

UGANDA: The White Nile

For those of you who knew that we went to Uganda from Dec 17th to Jan 18th to kayak on the White Nile you have probably just about given up checking for this post especially since we originally said we were probably going to post while we were in Africa. On principle, I figured that I better get this written before I finished my month long post-trip prescription of Doxycyline (no Malaria yet). So, despite being slammed by such "-ing" activities as: TA-ing, grading, researching and skiing, I have finally managed to find a little time to do a little writing about our adventuring for your pleasure-ing.

From nile blog- part 1



I am going to write this up in three parts so that you, the reader, can just skip to the pictures/stories in which you are interested.
Part 1 =big water rapids in the Day 1 section
Part 2 =playboating photos mostly from the Nile Special (tons of these photos)
Part 3 = other such as: friends, scenary, wildlife etc. (not as many photos there as I would have liked)

PART 1: BIG WATER RAPIDS

From nile blog- part 1

JET LAG

From nile blog- part 1

Our first view of the White Nile from NRE campground


Leif and I showed up at NRE (Nile River Explorers) late night on Dec. 17th and the next morning hooked up with Jaime from Kayak the Nile to get our boats. Thanks Jaime! We spent an awesome day following the rafting trip down all the way through the Day 1 section. For the record, the Ugandan safety kayakers rip it up way harder than American safety kayakers. Also for the record, if you have blond hair and blue eyes, and are going to a sunny place, and are going to be on the water every day, DON'T take Doxycycline for malaria. The resulting sunburn/rash is not worth it. Pay the extra bit for Malarone. (luckily it was more rainy than it should've been while we were there so it wasn't so bad, but if it was sunny more often it would've been quite hellish for me.


From nile blog- part 1

The rafts attempt a boof and fail on Overtime. Photo by Leif.

From nile blog- part 1

Ben, who I met in Africa and amazingly enough went to my small town highschool in Angels Camp, CA, shows the rafts how to boof. Photo by Leif.

From nile blog- part 1

I show the safety boaters how it's really done. Photo by Leif.


At the end of our trip we returned to NRE and explored all the backchannels at Bugagali falls in Fluid Spices which neither of us had paddled before (they were awesome-the boats and the rapids). The first day Leif and I were raging for some excitement and without a guide we tried to find the steepest biggest way through the channels, we succeeded. We blindly ran widowmaker and picked a line which led straight into two huge holes. Fortunately Leif and I are very proficient at NOT swimming and we both came through fine in the end. The next day we wanted a re-match. After a careful scout we decided on a line that would've worked in a lower volume river but instead dumped us right back in the same two holes. We handled our second beatings quite professionally having already done them once the day before. We now claim that we know the line and if we had done it again we would've styled it. And, it was low water anyway.

From nile blog- part 1

Leif and I like our matching Spice boats. That's Leif's game face. Photo by Max Coney.

From nile blog- part 1

Leif and I blue angel it down the right side of Widowmaker which we are calling "the orphanage" to get a better look at the holes we partied in the day before (note big hydraulics on left side of channel). Photo by Max Coney.

From nile blog- part 1

Leif and I decide to go for a second beat down in Widowmaker. Photo by Max Coney.

Slide Show of other Back Channel Rapids:


I find it sad to think most of these incredible rapids will be buried under water very soon. The dam is well underway (see photo below). As an American who uses a lot of electricity in my existence it wouldn't be right for me to judge the dam as evil, wrong, or unnecessary since it will bring electricity to much of Uganda currently without electricity. But, at the same time I cringe at what will be lost: the rapids, some of the wildlife (especially the birds), and the beautiful dark night sky. I really hope that the world can pull away from these mega projects and start generating a more decentralized electricity and power grid which is less harmful to the natural world. I know that nothing lasts for ever and eventually the dam will be destroyed and the rapids restored, whether or not we humans are here to witness it is a different matter. I hope we will be.

From nile blog- part 1

Dam site, with rafts and safety kayakers just about to enter Silverback Rapid

PART 2: NILE SPECIAL

The real reason the White Nile was on Leif's list of rivers to run was playboating on the Nile Special. My goal was to learn to helix, which I did; Leif's goal was to move the clean blunts from the "every now and then" pile to the "most of the time" pile. In other words, to put another trick in the bag. Which he did. The waves served up some great air.

From Nile playboating

Leif throws a Large Helix in the Large Nemesis.

From Nile playboating

Natalie throws a Large Blunt in the Small Flirt

We stayed at the Hairy Lemon for about three weeks and surfed the Club Wave and the Nile Special almost every day. We also surfed the Hair of the Dog a few times and navigated Kalagali falls and Itunda falls. We would like to thank the Hairy Lemon staff, especially Michael and Maureen, for making our stay quite enjoyable. Enjoy the following slideshow!



Playboating Slideshow:



PART 3: OTHER interesting photos and my thoughts about my cultural experience in UGANDA

Although Leif and I didn't go to see any big game we did see TONS of really cool birds, some of which are shown in the slideshow below.




Check out this sequence of a bird eating a fish- it's awesome.




Unfortunately I didn't get as many photos of everyday sights as I should have. I'm a bit shy about bringing out the big fancy camera so a description will have to suffice. We went to a rural part of Uganda that has a pretty active outdoor adventure tourist industry. The landscape is covered with family sized farm plots of a variety of crops such as coffee, pineapple, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, sugar can and rice. It seemed to me that the women and the girls did most of the hard farming labor while the boys had a lot more time to 'hang around' with the tourists. The men typically had jobs going to market and operating the bodas (motorcycle taxis), matatus (van taxi/buses) and car taxis. The women could carry and balance amazing loads on their heads and I have never seen bicycles so well used and so well loaded to transport everything and anything you could think of. One thing that struck me was the huge number of children who always yell "Muzungu" (white person) and "howarYOO?" In talking to one woman I learned it is not uncommon for a woman to have 10 kids and for her husband to have many wives. All told, in general my impression was that the Africans in Uganda are hardworking, nice people who keep their houses and clothes impossibly clean given all the red dirt everywhere.

I would also like to give a shout out to OneMama, which is a small clinic I went to to have an ear infection treated. OneMama is just starting up and is hoping to open many clinics in the rural areas that pair traditional midwives with western medicine to help reduce the transmittal of AIDS to newborns during childbirth. They also hope to fight malaria through education and the distribution of mosquito nets. You can check OneMama out at their website

Thanks to all our new friends we met in Africa who took photos for us and paddled with us. Also, thanks again to Kayak The Nile for renting us boats, and getting us oriented when we first showed up in Africa. I highly recommend that if you go to Africa, you get KTN to handle the logistics like boats and airport pickup.