Words and Photos by Seth Warren
We made the pre-event journey to Itanda Falls today. This is going to be one of the best river festivals of all time here in Uganda. There is still plenty of whitewater to be had, despite the tragic damming of Bujagali, which has drastically impacted the whitewater tourism.
In light of this loss, the 2012 Nile River festival is one of celebration for Hendri Cotezee, who made his home here on the Nile. A world class kayaker and one of the great African explorers of all time, Hendri was killed by a crocodile in 2010 during an expedition on the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This year's feature event is the fruit of Hendri’s very creative mind–his rules, his dream! Organizer Jamie Simpson of www.kayakthenile.com spent many hours discussing the nitty-gritty details of this two-day, multi-event competition. The final product includes a head-to-head race through Itanda Falls, followed by a 25 km downriver race and a big-air competition on Nile Special. It’s sure to test the best paddlers here.
Tonight we brace ourselves to watch the award-winning film Kadoma, a tribute to Hendri’s life and philosohy of living that has touched thousands all over the world. The film reminds all the paddlers why we travel to places like Uganda to live the dream.
The theme of the Nile River Festival is “The Best Day Ever.” This was Hendri's life motto. For Hendri, living life was all about today. With guts and gusto we all have the possibility to live our best day ever.
Here’s Jamie laying out the competition. Stay tuned to C&K for photos, words and video of the event as it unfolds.
Pic 1: Peter Meredeth is here helping to organize the festival. He was Hendri's best mate and is know locally as Africa's #1 rafting legend.
Pic 2: This way to some of the best whitewater on earth.
Pic 3: The lower bit of Itanda Rapid (The Cuban is Center with the Ash Tray just below).
Pic 4: Jamie Simpson event organizer giving the Pre-Game meeting.
Pic 6: The local kayaker boys—all contenders in the running for a stack of cash and a ton of schwag. Local paddlers are the gem of this event.
Pic 7: Eyes on the prize.