If you are in contact with any media out there, it currently feels like we live in a really chaotic and crazy world! And it would be hard to conceive of why anyone would want to travel halfway around the world to kayak in a place where either you may get blown up by terrorists or get Ebola and on top of that your kayak may get lost in transit. There is good kayaking in many places and well why go through all that to paddle when you can be home, right? Well, I am sorry to say that once you have been to the Nile, it’s really really hard to not fall in love with the river and want to paddle there all the time. The journey there is part of the adventure and once you arrive to warm, friendly Uganda that also has the right price point for just about all kayakers, it’s hard not to stay for a while or keep coming back.
Another thing you discover when you get to Uganda is that the media hype that you happened to hear up until your arrival was just that – hype – very good for selling newspapers and advertising space but not necessarily reality based. First off, getting Ebola in Uganda when there are no confirmed cases would be really hard to do, especially since the outbreak is as far from Uganda as London is from Uganda. Plus, there are no direct flights from Uganda to West Africa where the Ebola outbreak is. You have to fly through Europe to get there and overland would be next to impossible especially with stepped up border controls checking everyone coming into the country not to mention crossing the Congo which has no viable roads. Second, and probably the most compelling reason to visit the Nile and paddle it is that the Nile is under yet another threat of being dammed. This new proposed Isimba dam would be done in 3 years and flood all the great whitewater!
The latest news on the dam is a little sketchy – a Chinese company that has been blacklisted by the World Bank – the Chinese Water and Electric Company – is supposed to be building this new Isimba dam. Locals and businesses that would be affected by the dam are fighting back and making their voices heard in the Ugandan parliament so any other voices in favor of saving the Nile should also make their wishes known at Save Adventure Tourism Uganda. It is definitely not too late and the effort to save this mighty river is far from over!! In the meantime, stop listening to the media and get yourself over to Uganda to paddle one of the world’s greatest rivers! It’s an experience you’ll never forget. The only things you really have to be careful of are getting Malaria – which is easily preventable – ask me any questions you like on the subject or anything related to paddling in Uganda – and travelling by public transportation – definitely hazardous to your health but manageable by hired car!
Remember, “He who hesitates is lost!” So don’t wait until it’s too late and hope to see you in Uganda!
[Dr Jessie Stone is Aquapac Outdoor Champion 2014]