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When winter comes to the States there is only one place to go in my mind: UGANDA!

Although there are many other places I still crave to visit I have a hard time putting Uganda behind those new exciting places. Mainly because every visit is always an adventure, and one I will never forget.

Uganda is home to the White Nile where I paddle twice a day when I can on some of the best waves and occasionally a world class hole. It was home to two sections of river, the Day 1 and Day 2 located near Jinja, Uganda. Recently a dam has caused the Day 1 Section to turn into nothing but flatwater. What was a BIG water rollercoaster section of river is now literally a lake. It was depressing to come back, as two years ago I was going down on the “last free day of the Silverback Section.” This year there is nothing to paddle on the Day 1 Section.


We have spent 99% of our trip on the Hairy Lemon. Which is its own little paradise located on the Day 2 Section of the river. From the Lemon you can paddle 15 minutes up to the two famous waves: Nile Special and Club Wave. When you are finished you simply float back to the lemon.


The paddling has been incredible. I have truly been enjoying every second on the water.  I have accomplished my goal of consistently throwing clean blunts and I am very excited to have those added to my big bag of tricks. I have found the new kayak to be so incredibly loose and fast, that many moves I struggled with on the last trip have become much easier. Even on “sub-optimal” levels, the boat has enough speed to retain itself on the wave. Meaning I get way more surf time as a green wave does not mean I will flush off!


The water is so warm I have been wearing my Kokatat Knapster Dry Deck with my Snap Dragon Bungee skirt. It is the perfect combination for warm weather boating! This combo has kept me cool in the incredibly hot weather and also it keeps me plenty dry. So all in all my kayaking has been truly perfect thanks to all the perfect Uganda weather gear.


When not kayaking I spend my time playing volley ball, bananagrams, reading and recently I went on a Net Sale with Jessie Stone for Soft Power Health. We visited the largest sugar plantation in the World and on a previous trip I actually met the sons of the owner of the plantation. I must say the plantation was insane, it was its own little world, its own airplane landing strip, hospitals, schools and more. It was very interesting as it was nothing like I had ever seen before. We met out on the field in the middle of all the houses and the staff was well educated on Malaria so Jessie was very impressed. She sells the nets cheaper than anyone else as if you give them away for free, they don’t get used or taken seriously. We sold over 100 nets and had a great time running around with the kids. For a long period it was more or less running away from the crazy Muzungu (white person) Nick Troutman, who was playing tag with a group of 50 plus kids.


Nick and I started the Troutman Foundation last year. Which really is just us raising money by doing what we love and putting the money where we feel it should go. With the help from multiple sponsors and individuals Nick came to Uganda with a check in hand for Jessie Stone. With that check we haven’t fully decided what we would do yet as there are so many exciting things we could be a part of. After looking over some photographs we have decided to put part of it towards an organization started by a local Ugandan lady. It’s a home for special kids, with mental and physical disabilities. Recently Jessie was asked to visit a hut that had many kids and the mother had passed away several years prior. When she got there, there was a mentally ill kid as well as a kid with cerebal palsy both who were starving due to the father not having enough money to feed his kids, and these kids due to their disabilities, not having the capability of going to get food on their own. Thus they were transferred to the Home for Hope. After seeing the images of their pencils for arms and legs Nick and I knew we wanted to help this lady to take care of these two newcomers. We have given many of our clothes and a good chunk of the donations to ensure that they are well taken care of. At the end of our trip we visited the home to check in on the kids. They were happier and healthier than ever. They were gaining weight and very enthralled with the trampoline and tv time!

Now I am back home dreaming of my sunset paddling and amusing more adorable kids.


If anyone is ever wondering where they should go in the cold months of winter, be sure to see Uganda at least once, and perhaps it will become your new winter destination!


Emily Jackson-Troutman