Select Page

Uganda 2022 – 19 Years and always something to discover!

This February marked my 19th year of paddling in Uganda! Though the river has changed much in that time – with two dams built on the amazing and wild first 50 kms of the river after it leaves Lake Victoria, there is still really great paddling to do and new features to enjoy! The high water that has been the norm since the start of the pandemic, has produced new waves and features that never cease to amaze! On this trip to Uganda, I spent most of my time surfing the newly discovered Flamingo wave.

19 Years Paddling in Uganda
Luckily, I met up with Sam Ward just before he left Uganda, and he gave me a personal tour of how to get to the wave and when to paddle it. Flamingo is a high water wave and only in when the Bujagali dam just upstream is releasing bigger flows. The siren at the dam can be heard on both sides of the river both upstream and down so no matter where you are near the river, you will hear it. The siren alerts you to whether water is going up or down which is very helpful. The levels change very quickly being that the dam is so nearby.

19 Years Paddling in Uganda


Generally, the later afternoons worked out for great high water, and paddling in the area where this wave is is incredibly scenic. It feels and looks a lot like the wilder parts of the Nile that used to be common place and is home to many creatures such as fish eagles, ground hornbills, and otters along with plenty of fish that fling themselves out of the water in pure ecstasy – probably just celebrating how beautiful and amazing the river is here. The main channel on river right is where the rapid Jaws is – infamous because the giant whirlpools eat you up when paddling through them. I had plenty of experience with this!

19 Years Paddling in Uganda


The far river left channel that is formed by an island and a bend in the river is relatively narrow but holds plenty of volume so Flamingo is has a big glassy face with a breaking pile on top. Both kayakers and board surfers alike have been enjoying the wave. Its slow enough that you can take your time to plan your move and set up, but you have to very proactive to stay on the wave once you have thrown your move. You can work on just about any set up and move you want so long as you pay attention to the window in which you can do the moves. Its not small, but its not huge either! Like all the great waves on the Nile, Flamingo builds and breaks – surging between a nice fluffy pile and a greener face.
One thing Flamingo does not have is eddy service so when you flush off, you need to paddle to the eddy behind the island or to the left shore and hike back up. The benefit of this that no one is ever waiting very long to catch the wave and your legs get a good work out as well as your regular paddling work out! Every time I surfed this wave I could not believe how good it was – what a treat! It just goes to show that there are always new things to discover, even after all these years and all the changes! The Nile still has wonderful surprises left in store!