29 04 2007

Uganda Kayaking
Out of Africa- Living the dream or in a dream

Announcing to friends, colleagues and clients that I was about to visit Uganda always seemed to invoke the same blank stare followed by “why on earth are you going to Uganda?” Well actually its got a river called the White Nile which happens to have the best play boating on the planet. Added to that, the logistics are easy, its warm, cheap and has kayaking for a range of different abilities.

For some people flash cars, houses and marriage are all signs that they have made it in life. Not that there is anything wrong with those things, but I feel like I have made it when I get to experience like places like Uganda, West Coast (NZ) or Nepal. It’s not just about the places, but the people that are attracted to those places. Its about the journey to get there and solving problems when things go wrong. I made a decision a long time back after doing a lifestyle job that there had to be a better way to sustain the dream. Over the last 8 months I have certainly been lucky to live that dream.

I spend far to much time in a creek boat and consequently my play boating skills are not what they could be. This was particularly evident after turning up to the Nile Special and not even being able to get on the wave. A few sessions later with advice from some generous souls, I finally got the hang of it and had a ball.

There are 2 sections of the river , predictably called day one and day two. Day one is more about the river running but also has the best wave on the river (Ugly sisters). The Nile River Explorers (NRE) is the place to stay if you want to party. It also has accomodation to suit every budget and taste. NRE attracts an interesting mix of people (raft guides, NGO workers, volunteers, kayakers, overland truckers and the occasional local) each with their unique outlook and personality. Combined with a culture of drinking and a go hard or go home policy it makes for interesting evenings!

Day two is more about the play boating and has an awesome place to stay called the Hairy Lemon. It is an Island in the middle of the Nile with no mains power and a really chilled out feel . The Nile special and club Wave are a short paddle from the Island and are both world class play spots.

Uganda has moved on since the days of Idi Amin (go watch the Last King of Scotland) but still remains a poor country. They population has increased to 24 million and over half are under the age of 15. It was somewhat surreal after being surrounded by mud huts to see the high rises of Wellington. For me holidaying as a westerner in Uganda was like living in a bubble divorced from the realties of every day Uganda. I didn’t have to move far though to hear interesting stories from people living in or around Uganda and the realities they face on a daily basis.

Uganda is a great place and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back or recommend it to anyone thinking about going there. If you are looking for more information on kayaking in Uganda, I have collated a bunch on links at the following location: http://www.google.com/notebook/public/08669969625212151804/BDSikIwoQlfnzt40i
Thanks to Sam Sutton for the photos. More at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yakers/sets/72157600145686438/




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