I’m now back home from our Winter in Uganda. We spent the last 3 months there paddling the White Nile river, now one of the most popular winter destinations particularly for us freestyle paddlers.
It turned out to be my favourite visit there and one of the most enjoyable trips of my life! I really loved it!
Every day we’d wake up pretty leisurely, most of the time it wasn’t the best levels in the morning so we’d read, relax, look at the animals; basically just enjoying life in tropical paradise. Then when the levels were perfect it was time to kit up and surf some of the best waves in the World.
If you want to read about the waves or the condition of the river check my last blog but aside from the paddling here there was one other aspect of living in Uganda that made this trip so special…
I set out at the beginning of our time there mostly thinking of what moves I was working on, but aside from our paddling what gave me the biggest joy was having the time to think and observing the wildlife that was thriving and living all around us.
I never noticed it as much in the past, but this time a whole new world opened itself to my eyes, every day was like a wildlife film. I noticed more and more of the life that was going on all around us and it was truly a pleasure to observe. I feel that it’s so much we can learn from the natural World.
My favourite of the animals we saw were the bright blue Malachite Kingfishers that sat in the trees by the eddy, a Hornbill family with two clumsy youngsters that liked to spend their evenings stomping around in the tree branches, a thriving Monitor Lizard population with one particularly brave Lizard that liked my kayak and paddling shoes The beautiful green and red Sunbirds that came every morning from their nests to drink the nectar from the flowers, the Turaco bird with its bright red underside and distinctive call…it’s actually too many to name that were my favourites
For me it was a whole new side to Uganda that I hadn’t appreciated before. I think I spend so much of my time at home rushing around, paddling, driving, facebooking, watching youtube, emailing… that I often forget to stop and enjoy what’s around me in the real world. Going to Uganda this time really brought about an appreciation of the simple joys in my life and grew my love of nature immeasurably.
Paddling-wise we got a whole range of levels, from high Malalu to foamy low Nile Special with everything else in-between.
My goal for the trip was to get my wave paddling to the same level as my hole paddling, I learnt and understood so much on this trip, i’m not quite there yet but I left feeling satisfied with my progress and really fired up to keep on working on it.
It’s such an enjoyable & often frustrating process fine tuning moves, learning new ones and figuring out how to go bigger or do things better, but that process all together is what culminates to give the feelings that have kept me in love with Freestyle and have always provided the drive to seek perfection.
Here was no different you crash and crash trying to figure something out then the moment that you get it, it just clicks and all the frustration fades…you just feel so good. It’s why I love doing what I do.
It’s strange being back in the UK, for one Katya is in Russia so i’m on my own again now but mainly having constant power, fast internet, Tv and a food processor all at arms reach I was really looking forward too, but now I have it, the novelty has worn off after an hour. Its nice but i’m not sure I like it in the way that I used to
Being next to a great river with fantastic waves to surf on with fresh delicious tropical fruit in plentiful supply surrounded by beautiful wildlife is an experience that I think is hard to rival.
The trip really gave me a lot of time to think and ponder and I realise my biggest loves are Kayaking, the Natural World & Wildlife & being with Katya. Its fortunate that they all combine very well.
Where I want to go with these loves I’m not sure yet, but I love the natural way of life and focusing on my dreams, life seems to get brighter and brighter as the years go by and I think that kayaking or any outdoor sport makes a big difference to peoples lives. That connection to enjoying yourself in the outdoors in its various forms that kayaking allows is quite remarkable.
When they told me at School “These are the best years of your life…” I knew they were talking bulls@$t
Anyhow go paddle and enjoy yourself! Now i’m looking forward to competition season and its time to get in shape in holes, so I’d better get to work sorting this video from the trip out so I can get to Nottingham bye for now.