I promised my mum I would not go back to Uganda after getting Malaria and breaking my hand on the last trip. But after spending 2 months in England, the longing for warm water, big waves and cheap living kicked in (sorry mum). So I booked my flights, which where far cheaper than normal thanks to the ebola crisis, and set out on my 4th trip to the source of the Nile. The only downside to these cheap flights is that I had to spend 12 hours in Dubai airport. Luckily two of my best friends James Weight and George Younger where also flying out to Uganda on the same flight and we got to hang out and have some highly intelligent and eloquent conversations about gnarly rapids, sick waves and hangovers. We finally made it to Uganda and where picked up by our friend/driver Steve, Steve is one of the few Ugandans who understands that if he fully rips us off we won’t use him the next time but if he only slightly rips us off we will use him every time – Science. As a result of this Steve is doing really well for himself and is currently building a new house for him and his two wives. We where trying to make it to the river that day but as is what normally happens in Uganda everything took longer than it should have done and after a long, bumpy, dusty, ride we gave in and stayed at “Mama Flows Mzungu guest house” for the night. The next day we set of at six am, much to Steve’s dismayal, for Nacartu the village next to the famous Nile Special wave. For those that don’t know there are three main places to stay on the Nile, The Hairy lemon, Nile River Explorers and the village. Most people will stay at the Lemon or NRE but both of those options are expensive, the upsides being power, security and occasionally internet. For the less financially exuberant person (dirtbag) the village is realistically the only option left to live out months on end next to one of the best waves in the world, that being said it is like fight club in that you really need an invite to stay there and a good understanding of how things work in Uganda. We made it to the village and where warmly greeted by the local people, Several minutes later we where on the water. I don’t think anything compares to catching that first wave of the trip. Pure Magic.
The next couple of days passed by in a blur of air screws, awesome sunsets and african children making fun of my freckles. This is one of my favorite parts of living in Africa, Days just blend together and your only focus each day is to surf as much as possible. Theres not too much to say about this part of the trip other than it was awesome, Eventually something had to put a dampener on this awesomeness and it came with James Weight leaving the village to get a job and see his girlfriend (lame). Still me and George carried out our daily routine of surfing, sleeping and occasionally eating. Eventually some more of the boys rocked up to the village, Paul Palmer, Martin Koll, Arthur Paulus and Will Chick. Martin, Arthur and Paul are both awesome guys that have been to the Nile multiple times but Will was an unknown kid on his first trip to Africa and I was dubious about how he’d deal with village life, I needn’t have worried though as within a week he had graduated from semi beater to full blown village boy.
Midway through the trip Nile special got really busy and we started heading up river more and more to avoid the long line ups.This wave is called “mutts nuts” and it truly is the dogs danglies, it only runs a few days a week and early in the morning, we where blessed with no one else in the eddy and a prime wave multiple times. Through heading up river to surf this wave we also started running Itunda several times a week on our way down to mutts nuts because of this we started to get really comfortable on this rapid which lead to probably my favorite day on the water of the trip. We spent the day sessioning Itunda and each got a sick move on a different part of the rapid. I sent the entry loop, Paul launched a ridiculous Panam on Cuban and George nailed a head dry boof through bad place. Will Chick got humbled on his first lap but stomped it on his redemption lap.
There is only one thing that gets old in the village, The food. After weeks and weeks of living on rice the conversations continually drifted towards fantasy food back home but the trip was going awesome asides from the longing for McDonalds, I was learning tonnes, having a great time and most importantly getting really really tanned/freckled. Then during that final week I got that all too familiar feeling of joint pain and head aches. I quickly decided it couldn’t be Malaria because after the last trip where I didn’t take anti malarials and got destroyed by Malaria I invested £50 (3 weeks living in the village) in anti malarial tablets. I manned up for a few days but eventually the fever, vomiting and diarrhea set in and I got owned by Malaria once again, Big thanks to the boys for looking after me and Steve for taking me to the hospital. Because I waited so long to get treated it took a little bit longer than usual, they also discovered I had a blood infection and that also contributed to a lack of awesomeness for a few days. Eventually I got better and and had to make the faithful phone call to my mum.
“Hey mum, Do you remember the last time I called you from a hospital in Uganda ,I had Malaria and a broken hand?
Well, the great news is that both my hands are fine! …the bad news is I have Malaria… and a blood infection… Sorry”
Thankfully I got healthy enough to spend the last couple of days of my trip exactly how they should be spent. Shredding with the boys.
After 6 weeks of pure stoke the dream had to end and I had to pack up and head home to England to get ready for GBR team trials.
The Nile is under threat once again and I urge anyone interested in visiting this magical place, protecting the environment or stopping corrupt political deals to visit this web page – https://saveadventuretourisminuganda.wordpress.com/
Huge thanks to all the boys for the good times, the village kids for providing endless entertainment and everyone else who contributed to a great start to 2015!
Video from my trip is here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BuxcML0IrU
See you on the water,