July 2012 saw the entire family out in Uganda to paddle the White Nile. We’d originally sketched a plan to paddle in Canada in aid of Sarah and Michael’s growing playboating habit, but really wanted somewhere with a bit of river running to keep Mary and I interested. Lowri suggested the Nile, which I was not entirely comfortable with – I really wanted some hardish, maybe steepish, but above all smaller rivers than this ! However, we went, we saw, and we paddled. The water was warm, the people were incredibly friendly, and however scary at first encounter, the paddling was brilliant ! Mary and I had taken the precaution of going on Chris Evans’ “The Bombproof Roll” course at Plas-y-Brenin, since we’d both struggled to take our perfectly serviceable pool roll out onto white water. A good investment which definitely paid off, but also, paddling the Nile was a perfect complement to the course, as we got plenty of real-life practice in warm water with very few rocks. I, in particular, just went out one evening near the end of the trip and rolled repeatedly in the current far more times than I could have managed at home in cold water, and I’ve really never looked back.
As well as playing on the Nile Special rapids from Hairy Lemon Island, and Superhole, nearer to Jinja, we did a couple of runs down from the Bujagali dam (mostly easy rapids) and twice ran “Day Two” from Kalagala Falls down to Hairy Lemon, on the 16th and 18th July. The first video was put together (and rather ruthlessly trimmed to the limit of four minutes) for the SOC Photo Competition, using footage from both our runs, with both Sarah and myself using headcams. There’s also bank and headcam footage from playing on the Nile Special rapid, which is at the end of this run, taken on the 17th.
The video was shot in HD,so watch it on youtube for the full 1280×720 resolution. The river is vast, and there is quite a lot of navigation simply to find a route down reaching the named rapids by the correct channel. Here’s a gpx track of our approximate route, on which I’m pretty sure I’ve got the line down the five major rapids shown correctly, but the line down the flatter bits in between is a bit speculative (the track has been put together by looking at the aerial photos not recorded on a GPS at the time). The lines there possibly aren’t that critical, but please don’t copy the track into your GPS and believe that it will lead you down a safe route on the river !!
Cutting the Day Two video down to four minutes was enough work that I had watched too much of the footage too many times to make a good job of the full video showing more of the trip, so I left that job for later. I’ve been making more of an effort to catch up in spring 2013 (there’s a backlog of getting on for a dozen trips which will make videos) and the longer video is now complete (at just over 17 minutes). The intro was made from footage later on the trip when we travelled west and south close to the Congo border, but most of the video is paddling on the Nile.