Thursday, January 17, 2013

Uganda 2013 - 'a malarone a day keeps the malaria at bay!'

Its hard to believe that its mid january already. After a lovely New Year celebration with my family in London it was time to jump on a plane and head to warmer climates to start training, back out on the water.
Celebrating New Year

If you ask any freestyle paddler across the world where the best warm weather winter training venue is they will inevitably say the White Nile in Uganda and that is where i'm heading (for the 3rd winter) to train.
Warm weather
Uganda is situated in the middle of Africa just above Lake Victoria. This beautiful yet very poor country is home to the source of the White Nile and some of the best whitewater and freestyle kayaking waves in the world (Nile Special and Club Wave).

River map of the main rapids on the Nile

We arrived on the 2nd January and have spent the last 2 ½ weeks living at Hairy Lemon a lovely campsite and paddling resort on an Island in the middle of the White Nile.

Red Tailed Monkeys

Life out here is very simple. Every morning we get up and go paddling, come back and eat breakfast, chill out and do a work out, eat lunch, chill out and do some stretching, go paddling, eat dinner and then go to bed.

Jasper chilling at the Hairy Lemon

Most days we surf Club Wave in the morning when the river is low and tow onto Nile Special in the afternoon when levels are higher. The waves are incredible but busy as there are a lot of paddlers out here from all over the world.

It takes awhile to master the rope

Claire O on Nile Special
Loving the waves

Every few days to mix it up we head upstream to surf a sweet little hole called 'Super Hole'.

All loaded onto a truck to get to Super Hole

Den and Sim on Super Hole

As well as freestyle there is also a number of big volume rapids you can run especially on the day 2 rafting section of the Nile. There are also a whole mix of other adventure activities to do such as Quad biking and horse riding safaris, zip lines, bungee jumps and rafting and the local towns, villages and markets to explore.

Quad biking adventures with Maria

Quad Bike Safaris around Buagali

Checking out the local markets

Den testing out a lot of coffee in town

We have just moved to the local rafting town Buagali for a few days to catch up with Internet, do some shopping and surf super hole but will very soon be heading back to the Hairy Lemon and settling into island life and training once more.

Claire O enjoying a Super Hole session whilst up in Bugagali
Mixing things up with a 30 min boda boda shuttle to Super Hole

Stopping for fuel Ugandan style
Sometimes the journeys to the river are more of an
adventure than the boating itself

This is the perfect way to kick start the year with a combination of healthy food, loads of exercise, warm water and sun.

Sunset over the White Nile

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

As I celebrate the New Year I can't help but reflect on the last 12 months and what has been an absolutely incredible year. The places I have been, the experiences I have had and the people I have shared it with along the way have made it one I will remember forever.

If I think back to the list of places I have had the opportunity to see just in this 12 months alone... Morocco, the Grand Canyon, California, Reno, Wyoming, Colorado, Austria, Italy, France, The Olympics in London, Canada, Tennessee, North Carolina, Hurley, the Lake District, St Petersburg, Wales and of course Leeds and HPP, I realise how very fortunate I am and that I am literally living the dream.

And to think that I have now left work to start training full time and set off with my coach and good friend Den to Uganda today, the 1st January 2013, to begin my training for the ICF Freestyle Kayaking World Championships in September. I realise how incredibly lucky I am, as my dream, my life continues and the next chapter begins.

To everyone who had shared any part of this wonderful experience with me and to those who have made it all possible, Thank You and have a fantastic year in 2013.

Here is a great video put together by my good friend Dave 'Scout' Whortley of our 19 day, 290 mile expedition down the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon from Dave Wortley on Vimeo.

Let it inspire you to follow your dreams.

Heres to success and happiness with family and friends in 2013