Breakfast was served at 7:30, before my 9:30 private white water kayaking lesson and trip. David, my guide, was “one of the best kayak instructors in Uganda”, which may or may not be something to brag about but he clearly knew what he was doing.
Phase 1: Kayaking Basics:
We walked our kayaks down to the water just below the campsite, where David taught me the first and most important lesson – the emergency escape and quick release out of the skirt and the kayak. Then we paddled around so I could learn each of the following:
• Power stroke
• Turn stroke
• Hip flips
• Paddling in current
• Ferry glide (angle against the current)
We practiced my lessons and strokes by ferry gliding across the Nile and in/around some nearly by islands, stopping for a stretch and a break on one specific island. The sight-seeing tour included a trip past a group of locals doing laundry in the river, and a sighting of a Nile monitor. No photos of any of these, though. White water kayaking lessons don’t leave time for snapping photos., and I don’t have a housing for camera anyway.
Phase II: Kayaking Fo’ Real:
After lunch at the camp we put the kayaks on the rooftop of a car and drove twenty minutes to the drop-in point at the dam. David took me through some white-water drills in a rapid, mostly edging, how to “break into” a current, and how to recover from a partial roll using David’s kayak. We hadn’t even hit the actual rapids but my arms were already exhausted. Hips too. Kayaking involves a great deal of control of your hips and abs.
Then we hit the white water. Our trip took us down four different rapids: Joes, Pyramid, and two smaller “unnamed” – I managed to stay topside for all of them, following David’s lead and doing my best not to… well… die. Though the entire trip was probably only 20-30 minutes I felt like I’d run a marathon. I was so grateful after the last rapid when we could coast and could catch my breath.
Phase III: The Self-Roll
As we coasted David taught me the concept of recovering from a full roll. It involves keeping a cool head, aligning your paddle in a “T” perpendicular to your kayak, and using that as leverage against the water to push yourself upright. I practiced the self-roll w paddle 4-5 times but my arms were terrible tired. I just couldn’t manage to get it, but I did manage to get most of the Nile up my nose.
We pulled up to our drop off point and celebrated with a large beer called “Nile Special”. Probably special because it has 5.6% alcohol. I enjoyed every sip of it on the 20 minute ride back.
Sadly, there was no water in the room so I couldn’t shower for hours. Instead I wandered around, had my second beer, talked to Kate and J, talked to the kayak guys, and had David show me the wall map. Then he inexplicably tried to kiss me so I hustled away and read in my room until dinner.