Performance Kayaks Presents


Canada 2006
February 5, 2007, 9:36 am
Filed under: Trips

Dom and Chloe went out to the Canada for two weeks.
Here are some of the pics
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Italy and Tessin 2006
February 4, 2007, 1:48 pm
Filed under: Trips

Myself, Sparky and Morsey went out to Italy with Roger and Ewart from AS watersports and Mike from WWTCC..
Here are some of the pictures …
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Uganda 2005
February 4, 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Trips

Trip report from Sparky…
One Saturday afternoon in September 2004, Dom Crawford wandered into Performance Kayaks and asked if I fancied going to Uganda for the 2005 Easter holiday, to paddle on the White Nile. At the time I had plans to go paddling in Nepal with Nig Congram and a good friend of his, but this was rapidly looking like a bad idea due to political unrest. Half joking I said “OK then” to Dom. A couple of weeks later, and Dom had booked plane tickets for both Nig and myself, and we were committed to the trip. At that point we thought we might check out exactly what we’d let ourselves in for, and we started trawling the Internet for information and river guides. Dom started sending out e-mails containing links to apparently useful or interesting websites, and I began questioning more and more what the hell I’d let myself in for. From the reports, the water was huge – water flows from the source of the Nile at Owen falls dam at up to 1,500 Cumecs (the Tryweryn maxes out at 15 Cumecs) – yet every report recommended taking play boats because “you will just flush through”. I couldn’t see myself lasting more than 5 minutes in my tiny Riot Air 45!

In the months and weeks leading up to the trip a few more of Dom’s friends joined the crew. I had met Chloe on a few occasions in the shop, and as a build up to the Uganda trip we paddled at HPP and on the Upper Dart together. I met the other two guys (Sid and Henry) for the first time in the airport a couple of hours before our flight took off. And so this small band of boaters found themselves on the 8 hour flight to Entebbe, boats stowed in the hold, filled with the anticipation of what lay ahead.

Dom proved himself to be a bit of a logistics genius on this trip. He had made arrangements with a dude called Jamie Simpson (who owns a company called Kayak The Nile) to pick us up at the airport and guide us down the river for the first two days. I have to admit that I had my doubts about this working out, but it was totally perfect. As we walked out of the airport at Entebbe, Jamie was hurtling into the car park in his Matatu. He introduced himself and his driver Marcus, threw our boats onto the van roof, and we set off for NRE campsite. Three hours later, having off loaded our kit into the dorm and had a quick beer in the bar, we found ourselves having our first taste of what the Nile has to offer – a two hour play session on “Back wave”. Now this wave is approximately the size the waves you get at Hurley, yet the “local” boaters nickname it “Gay wave”. We all thought it was great at the time, although our opinions would change dramatically in the following two weeks!!! After a very, very long day, and a pretty good session on Back wave, we were more than happy to pay Cassius 2000 shillings to carry our boats up the hill to the campsite.

Our first full day on the river was a guided trip down the “day 2” section from Kalagala falls to Hairy Lemon campsite near Nile Special. Jamie and Marcus collected us from the campsite at 8.30am, for the 45 minute Matatu drive to Kalagala. This was probably one of the quietest journeys of the entire trip, everyone was justifiably a little nervous. On arriving at Kalagala we were confronted by a LARGE grade 5+/6 fall which could obviously be run, but the consequences of messing up the lead in and running the fall river left would have been dire. We all opted to put in below the falls! The day 2 section is an absolutely classic run. The first relatively small rapid after the put in, starts off a buzz that lasts for the entire trip. This section of river takes in some great class 4 rapids with names like Vengeance, Hair of the Dog, and Kula-Shaker. Along the way we saw Fish Eagles, Egrets and even fruit bats (which are resident on the island that Jamie has bought right next to Vengeance). We also stopped for a quick nose around the island that Steve Fisher has just bought. The trip ended with a good beat down session in Nile Special, and a beer and a tour at the idyllic Hairy Lemon campsite.

For the second guided day on the river we were privileged enough to be led by the Ugandan national freestyle champion, Paulo Babi. This was the section of river that we had been itching to run, because it contains some giant rapids. It starts with rib cage, a relatively simple class 3+/4 rapid, which is about the only place on the river where you are likely to hit a rock! This leads into Bujagali falls, an intimidating class 4+ from the bank, which Paulo didn’t allow us to inspect thankfully. From here you pass through 50/50, a big surf wave, and onto the mighty Total Gunga. This is a huge rapid with three potential lines – river right is safe a bouncy, and this is the line we took with Paulo; middle takes you through the guts of the massive wave train; and river left, which is not a great place for kayaks as it feeds you directly into a rather large hole called the G-Spot, that flips almost every raft that passes through it. My top line on this rapid was down the middle, wave wheel off the huge green wave, land on the edge of the G-Spot and get fed into it, get a good spanking in this hole, flush out upside down, and roll up to see poor Chloe swimming behind me having expected me to lead her down a safe line. Nig had a similar experience on this rapid after being ribbed for taking the “EASY” line every time – entertaining!!! Next up was my favourite rapid on the river (that I was capable of running at any rate) – Silverback. This is by far the most exhilarating rapid that I have ever run. There is pretty much no way to inspect it, you just wait your turn on the flat at the top, looking at the fine spray dancing above the glassy green horizon line. As you paddle towards the rapid, more and more of the massive wave train comes into view, and then you are on the 60 foot long ramp, accelerating towards an 8 foot tall standing wave. If you get through this first wave upright you are doing extremely well, make it through the second and you are a hero, get to the third and you are some sort of God. But, if you are upright at wave four, and you turn and surf it, then you are Paulo Babi!!! Most of our trips on this section ended here, with a Boda-Boda ride back to NRE campsite. This is because following on from Silverback is a long flat section, which ends at a fairly large fall called overtime. You could have masses of fun on this drop in a river running boat. This is followed closely by retrospect, a fairly meaty hole, and then another flat section down to super-hole. Super hole is a great place to start getting those blunts firing off, you can do all sorts of stuff in this wave. Another long flat section then leads you to Itanda falls. This is the most GIGANTIC rapid that you have ever seen in your life, and I really do take my hat off to anyone who can run it. It’s just the biggest 400 metres of turmoil, massive waves, and tubing holes that you can imagine. We were told that you needed to be out there paddling for at least two months before considering an attempt on this rapid, and I can believe it. Euthanasia falls on the Upper Dart it certainly isn’t!!!!

The remainder of our first week consisted of doing the NRE campsite to Silverback run on a daily basis, spending hours running Bujagali falls, and spending far too much money on beer in the NRE bar. We also did a mission to Mulalu one afternoon, which is the friendliest of giant waves that you could wish to play on. At the end of the first week we relocated to the Hairy Lemon campsite, which is the coolest place on earth. Life here consisted of getting out of bed early to watch the sunrise, having some breakfast and then heading straight over to the Nile Special wave. Have a good session on this monster wave perfecting our aerial blunts, back to the campsite for lunch and a nap in the sun or a spot of fishing, and then another evening session on Nile Special wave or Mulalu before dinner. This was playboating heaven, and I am sure there are few places in the world that could beat it, to quote Marlow Long it is “the sickest place on Earth”.

And that was pretty much it for our two weeks. Uganda is a great paddling destination; the weather is hot, the water is warm, the waves are massive but friendly, and the locals are welcoming (everywhere you go you see smiling faces and hear cries of “Muzungu”). Anyone thinking of heading out there should definitely plan to stay for more than two weeks, and should book a two day guided trip with Jamie and the guys at Kayak the Nile, so click on the image below for more information!!!!

If you want to see some video footage, give me a call – I have hours of it that I can bore you with!

Mark
Entebe airport pickup
Enjoying the easy lifeDropping into BujagaliBack WaveThe humpScared !!!Evening session on special