Sunday, 22 February 2009

Uganda 3, Africa Revolutions Tour & Sun Catchers Project

Before I divulge in my fond memories of Uganda here a most recent update.

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the 12th International Kayak Film festival in Rosenheim. Besides some really interesting newcomer clips, Bernhard Maurachers documentation about his Nanga Parbat expedition, the classical »Family Mad« movie from Jochen Schweizer, the quite intense big water “creeking” movie »Empire« from Vasili Porsev it was the most outstanding new movie »African Revolutions Tour« by Rush Sturges which claimed the most props at that evening. Check out a clip of the movie here: watch video clip

Also very appreciable is the fact that all the money from the sales of the movie will go into the Sun Catchers Project which is a non-profit organization dedicated to supplying developing countries with the ability to use solar technology to cook food and boil water. Check out more of their work HERE.

Their work in Africa leads me back to Uganda.
I think this last year was the quietest New Years party I had so far. Most of the people staying at the Lemon decided to go up to NRE (Nile-River-Explorer) for a couple of days, which is one of the camps at the day one section, and by far most the camp with the biggest party potential as there are often loads of raft and other tourists to party with. But don´t be surprised or shocked, it really can get quite wild at those parties a the NRE ;-)

Well as our time in Uganda was quite limited with three weeks we decided to stay put and enjoy the empty eddy at Special and get more air time on the wave.
So it was a really exclusive company we had our New Years dinner with and the obligatory shots at 12 o'clock (if you ever encounter flaming sambucha, make sure that you put out the fire with the full palm of your hand and not with half of the palm and half of your fingers, as the fingers may not close out the air properly and you might get some burnt fingers ;-). The company was comprised of Lee, Vito, Pete, the Wall-Family with Sam Ward, Maria and me.
Before New Years Maria went to town with Pete to do some shopping for the feast. Here some pics from the tour to get a picture about the life outside Hairy Lemon:

With an AK 47 armed guard sitting in front of each supermarket

Believe me, you don´t want to see the butcher stands in action

Uganda style fast food: chapati-time

Very refreshing and inspiring to see how happy one can be with so little

Getting some more pigs

Getting back the groceries to the island

New Years dinner

Lee and Vito preparing the flaming sambucha

Once again some more Nile Special action:

All pics by Maria Stelzig

peace and out!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Christmas at Hairy Lemon

After New Zealand in `99 this was my second hot Christmas without snow. Always a hard decision what to do in the winter-holiday, as I love skiing but paddling in winter with warm air temperature and as now in Uganda even really warm water is just fantastic as well. Such a good feeling to paddle with as little kit on your body as possible. Often it is so warm, that you just wear your PFD, spray-skirt and a boarder-shorts. This is a good cue, as you might notice at the pictures that I sometimes have got on some long sleeve shirt and this is just to give your skin a break from the intense sun exposure on the water all the time. I experienced that I got the most sun and felt it on the skin the day after I paddled Day2 section. Probably caused on the various flat water stretches on that section. So after the white water sections I always wore long sleeve on Nile-Special for 1-2 days to give my skin some recovery time.
Back to Christmas at the Hairy Lemon. It all started with Pete, Vito and Lee (all staff at the lemon at that time) giving out a big basket full of Christmas decoration. After that the girls got all exited and spread the Christmas decoration to get in the right Christmas mood. I have to admit I really got a hard time feeling like Christmas. Nevertheless Jan and me came up with the Idea of decorating an old long boat ,which normally is stuck to the roof of the eating area, as our Christmas tree substitute. Food wise Christmas was the highlight of the stay at the lemon with a special breakfast and the biggest variation of dishes during lunch and dinner we had there.
Before lunch it was time for a kind of secret Santa. The difference was just that the staff had bought all kind of stuff, wrapped it up in Christmas paper and then handed out the parcels to each guest. You could be lucky to get an aerosol of artificial snow, body hygiene products, Barbie dolls... but the real treasures were Pringels, chocolate and anything special to eat what you otherwise have difficulties to get hands on on a remote island ;-)

Christmas-Kayak as Christmas-Tree substitute

Enjoying Christmas dinner and some bubbly with Jan and Will

Will getting a snow-shower

Tom aka Santa

Peter, Vito and Lee giving out Secret Santa presents

Finally some more loaded action pics:

Rope-Boy doing his thing

They also like taking a ride

At Special more than the boats are upside down

All pics by Maria Stelzig

peace and out!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Uganda, Nile Special or just beeing a crazy Muzungu

A few weeks ago we came back from our first trip to Uganda. We, that is Jan a friend of mine from Munich, Maria my girlfriend and myself spent three weeks at the White Nile. Awesome three weeks I have to say!
Before we went to Africa and after the trip I´ve seen and read quite a few interesting websites and blogs about the different campsites and rapids and things to do etc. Therefore I won´t describe all the different places in vast detail but as I was asked some questions from friends who plan to go to Uganda in March I´ll try to recap them and write them down here so it might be of benefit to some other paddlers as well. Most of them are really basic things and you just realize you don´t know what to pack when you start wrapping up your "suitcase".
As I´m quite limited with time at the moment I´ll divide my Uganda story in 6 parts (each part of course packed with stunning wave action pics ;-) :

1. Arrival
2. Christmas
3. New Years
4. Day-Two Section & Local Paddlers
5. Change of Camp
6. Day-One Section & "My Top 10 Uganda Tips"

So today I´ll start with the Arrival-Part:
First of all, if you arrange a driver to pick you up from Entebbe airport with one of the kayaking- or raftcompanies beforehand (my recommendation would be to arrange it with kayak the nile), which is a really good thing to do, as there are loads of shady looking cab drivers at the airport waiting to rip you of and believe me, even if they are telling you "yes, yes, I know the place veeeery well", they don't have a clue what you're talking about, make sure you also print out the telephone-number of that guy or the company before you fly. As it is always possible that the driver does not show up, which happened to me. Guys, this is Africa which means everything is slower to say the least.
But if everything works out and you get your lift to Hairy Lemon straight (which is what we did) you can get on the wave straight on the first day, after around 3-4 hours drive. Oh boy, I tell you driving is an adventure on its own in that country.
Really scary driving habits, loads of shitty dirt roads, cars with nonexisting suspensions and a public transport system solely existing of Mitsubishi Minibuses. I`ve never seen so many Mitsubishi Minibuses in my life before, let alone so many people in one minibus.
So after an exciting drive you get to the Hairy Lemon Island. In order to get to the island you´ve got to bang on an old car rim and then wait 5-20 Minutes until somebody comes over with a wooden longboat and gives you a ride over.

hut with "calling-device" for shuttle-boat

The boat-beach clearly signals where to take of for Nile Special from the island:

After just 10 Minutes of paddling, the ideal warm-up, you´re already at your desired destination. And in order not to bore you, now that we´ve reached our main destination Hairy Lemon here some first pics of the wave:

righty Air-Blunt

sidekicking it

right Pan-Am

left Pan-Am

midway helix

One of my Ugandan goals: get safer with the cleans:

cleaning it on the left side

doing the same on the right

still one of my favorite moves: the airial backstab

low paddle-position to protect the shoulder at the california-roll

a concentrated face always helps ;-)

All pics by Maria Stelzig

almost after each session it was time to visit the chill-out-area to get some rest and relax your muscles

peace and out!