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This past winter I was very fortunate and so lucky to travel to Uganda to surf the legendary Nile Special wave on the white nile. This was my first time travelling overseas and I was going by myself at 16 years old and heading to Africa. My plan was pretty loose, only assuming that I’d know and meet people at the well known paradise known as the Hairy Lemon. After over around 24 hours of travel I finally arrived in Entebbe airport in Uganda, I was met by a driver sent from The Hairy Lemon at 4 am and started the 5 hour drive to the island. The roads alone here were like nothing I’ve experienced, motorcycle or “boda boda” drivers swerved between cars, the roads had no lights, stop signs, lane dividers and this was the first time I had driven on the left side of the road opposed to the right. The whole drive in was totally overwhelming with new things and I was so fired up to finally be in this place I’ve been dreaming about since I started kayaking. I finally got to the lemon after hours of waving at kids out the window and it really lived up to all the hype about it, easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and is an absolute kayakers paradise.

The first 2 days I didn’t surf really at all because my side was really sore from sitting on the plane weirdly for so long so that was devastating at first but once I surfed Nile Special for the first time feeling good it was one of the most amazing feelings of my life, a dream for the last few years coming true and a ridiculous plan actually happening, it was amazing.
Over the month I was there I improved and honed my skills on the water so much, I spent a use amount of time really working on my airscrew and it has really paid off. I also started trying and learning some combos and non traditional moves while I was there, such as bread and butters, spin to airscrews and blunts, tricks off the rope and trying to increase my overall trick rate. Another amazing wave on the nile is called Kula Shaker, this wave was generally only in super early morning on Sunday and Monday and required a boda boda ride from the other side of the river so it was quite the rally but such a smooth and epic wave.

I ran the river only once while I was there and it was a super fun big water run, I ran Itunda and it was super big and powerful, such a fun big rapid. Unfortunately never got the chance to run Dutchman, hypoxia, Kalagala or surf Cubans so I do have a good excuse to go back someday without nile special!

The world class wave that has been home to so many kayakers and the sports progression is now a completely flat pool because Isimba dam built just downstream. The island paradise called the Hairy Lemon that most kayakers and myself stayed on has already been deconstructed and deforested and is now completely submerged beneath the water of the Nile. This is all very sad news, especially for local people who depend on the rapids to live and as a important part of their lives, but I am very happy I was able to go there before it’s gone and stoked that so many people were able to have amazing experience here, now time to find the next winter big wave paradise somewhere else in the world, but nothing will compare to the white nile, the community and Nile Special.

Here is a short video from my trip there last February:

– Luke Pomeroy