Fun Times in Uganda

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July 31st 2010
Published: July 31st 2010
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Alright sorry guys, its been quite some time since we arrived but im afraid Ive been having way too much fun to be updating any kind of blog.

So yeah, we touched down in Entebbe on the 10th June, loaded up our kayaks onto a taxi and headed to the NRE campsite at Bujagali falls. For me and Chris it was quite a mellow ride as we'd both been to Uganda before, but I think James was a little bit more aware of the three crashes and volatile driving we witnessed. Luckily we arrived just as the bar was closing and had enough time to have a cheeky bottle of Nile Special under the quite visible milky way.

First day paddling went surprisingly well. First obstacle was Bujagali falls, graded somewhere between 4-5 (out of 6, 1 being flat, 6 being death). After a tense game of rock paper scissors i headed down first, somehow managing to stay upright. James then won the next game, and styled it himself. Extremely impressive seeing as it was his first major rapid on the Nile. Chris came down third giving all three of us a 100% upright record on Buj (but not for long!). Next up was 50/50, named so because roughly 50% of the time, it flips a raft....every time! however in a kayak its more like 1-100. I dont think any of us have rolled on it yet. Final rapid on the section is the Silverback rapid. It is a massive grade 5 which condenses all of the 20,000 cumecs (cubic meters per second) into a roughly 6-8 meter gap and hurtling down. Myself and Chris tried to get behind James and keep him distracted so he wouldn't notice it, but there was something about the roaring horizon line that made him question where he was. Fortunatly for us we were committed enough into the flow that there was no turning back, and we led James wide eyed into the rapid. Myself and James took a solid pounding, but somehow Chris managed to keep himself upright. 7 weeks of kayaking later collectively I think we have done about 10 runs of Silverback upright!

After of week of fun river running and what not at NRE we headed to the Hairy Lemon island, roughly 50km downstream. The island is a beautiful paradise for kayakers and non-kayakers alike, equipped with a kitchen, bar, one long drop, a dog, and a pig and a few monkeys. The draw of the Hairy Lemon is the world class wave 5 minute paddle from the beach on the island, and we had world class fun times!

Since then we essentially repeated this pattern so i wont bore you all by going through day by day what we did, instead here are a few highlights:

Bungee jumping....The morning after my birthday I decided to wisely invest some of the money donated by family in a 44m bungee jump into the nile (yup, into!). We went along with some of the Middlesex uni volunteers we'd met and 6 of us jumped. I must admit that with a fear of heights jumping off a bridge isn't the most enticing idea, but I can now say it was one of the most fun things Ive done ever. It was also quite funny watching one girl do the bungee, and when the rope stretched out, dunking her into the water her shirt decided to stay down, whilst she was pulled back up. Needless to say there was a big cheer from the onlooking crowd at the bar!

Christine's first run of Silverback....I dont intend on putting any foul words in this blog, but I can assure you she wasn't overly excited when she first saw the rapid. And the best news is...we have the head cam footage of it!

Having over 1 million shilling stolen....Not quite a highlight but it did allow us to get to see parts of Uganda that we wouldn't have normally seen, namely the police stations of Nazigo and Jinja. The police reports you get are written in the first person by an officer who's English isn't quite on par with ours.... Some brilliant quotes from it include: the opening statement "I do quite very well remember that..." when referring to James "my colleague Smith" the moment we realized our money had been nabbed "I did not have a penny to my name and could not cater for my bill so frantically hurried to the nearest ATM" and the best part, the reason for our trip out here...."going on a kayaking spree!"

Various injuries.....One thing we have started doing to keep ourselves entertained is racing down the rapids. The race begins if someone within earshot, who doesn't know the rules, says the words "kayak" and "go" in the same sentence. If this occurs the race starts, regardless of how much we want to do it. We then have to run over to our tents, get changed, run to the road, order boda bodas (motorbikes) to drive to the end of the run, get onto the river and race, where after the 4th rapid we run up the bank, jump on a motorbike, balance our kayaks on our knees, drive for 15 mins (although if you tell them your racing its more like 6) and get back to the campsite. If all this happens after midday the race begins and ends with a shot of Zappa- Ugandan sambuca.
One morning (so no zappa) a race was declared and myself, James and Bryce, an Australian boater we met out here set off. At the bank of the nile there is a 6 meter slide that has a kicker at the end, which when done in a kayak normally sends you at hurtling speeds out and onto the water, obviously the fastest way to win....
We'd done the slide loads before, once with 3 of us on one boat, we'd sent people down it who'd never sat in a kayak before (promising them that it was completely safe), so when James was sat on the edge still getting ready I figured giving him a gentle push down it and relieving him of his paddles would be fine. When he landed there was a pretty loud thud and he must have landed pretty flat on the water. Me and Bryce slid down after and saw James had swam to the side and was lying on the bank in pain. Assuring us he was just winded we continued on down assuming he'd catch us up.
Once we got back to NRE it became obvious he wasn't just winded. He was sprawled on the floor of the bar lay on a door, which some unlucky gardeners had carried him up the stairs from the river with. woops.
Lots of drugs and x-rays later it transpired that James had chipped part of one of the conecty things on his spine (technical stuff I know). So that pretty much meant no more kayaking for James for at least a week or so....
On the journey back from Kampala's hospital as I was chatting away with our driver Chris piped up and asked very casually what the symptoms for malaria were. We reeled a few off, and an hour later after a test great news...Chris got malaria!

After 6 weeks Chris' time was up, and with James' back the way it is we decided to push on to Kenya and have a break from boating...but thats another story all together.....


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