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A different side to the Nile

A few years ago, having finished university, I decided that I would live my life around kayaking and to try and earn my living solely through white water coaching. I set myself, and my kayak, on a worldwide adventure of work and travel in an attempt to really get to grips with some of the premier kayaking destinations. I designed a business that has allowed me to sustain the life of travelling, kayaking and coaching ( I was living the life I wanted, with a dream job, I didn’t realise how fragile that reality was.

Seven months ago, I felt a twinge in my shoulder as I was rolling. It was a normal day, and I was playing on a feature I had played on many times before, I thought not much of it at the time. I was part way through a two week coaching package. I finished the trip, making sure I didn’t use my right shoulder for anything strenuous. On the last day of the trip I felt a similar tweak in my left shoulder. I rested my shoulders but with no improvement I then went to see a physiotherapist.

Following the initial injury, I haven’t been properly kayaking in 7 months. I sat on the banks of the White Nile and the Zambezi, watching people go kayaking and come back. I coached from the bank and video but not from the water and I took photos of other people pushing themselves and enjoying the amazing white water. I was a tag along on a whole summer of Love it Live it trips that I had worked so hard to set up – I was out of a job. Fortunately, in my absence Love it Live it has been thriving, and I have been able to leave the coaching in the capable hands of long time paddling friend and coach Will Clark.


In short, it was in my face and I missed it. It is now seven months since I paddled proper white water, and I am about to go into shoulder surgery that will commit me to being out of action for at least another five.

I am not writing this to moan about not being able to paddle. Instead I wanted to share a few photos and experiences from a two day trip I did that I probably wouldn’t have done had I not been injured. This trip allowed me to appreciate many of the things, including simply being on the water, that as an avid white water paddler, it is easy to overlook.

We started at the hairy lemon island, which is pretty much at the end of the 45km section of the White Nile that gets run regularly.

This was to be an ‘intense’ section, and we were taking it very seriously. Protection from the extreme elements was essential, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations was key to our survival. This is Jared Taylor mastering both of these things…


Jared relaxing with his sun hat.

We were tagging along with a trip from a new company on the Nile – Kayak Cruises. It is a common misconception that the White Nile is a destination for only the experienced white water kayaker. In fact there is a huge variety of channels with sections of river to suit any sort of paddler.

We paddled six kilometres of slow flows and meandering channels on the first day, ending at with a fun grade 3 rapid. On this rapid is a little known play wave called ‘Mu 2’, great for the white water enthusiasts with working shoulders! I steered clear of the wave and my Burn lead me down the rapid and across the eddy line without any grief. I jumped out to take a few photos.


A couple of kids came down to see what we were up to at the wave. Nice Undies.

That night we camped out on the island next to the infamous ‘Malalu’ wave, enjoying the sunset, a good barbeque and a show of stars you can only see in the wilderness.

Making morning tea

Morning coffee – an essential part of any multi-day trip

The following day, after packing up camp, we carried on downstream, taking plenty of time to enjoy the very rarely paddled Basanna section. The Nile changes in character after Malalu, as it meanders through hundreds of small islands we saw all manner of different vegetation and wildlife as we floated down. Monitor lizards sunning themselves in the morning sun, monkeys grooming each other, we even saw some otters playing in an eddy.

Red tailed monkey

The river is an integral part of the local community’s day-to-day lives. Locals lined the banks throughout, busy farming, washing clothes and bathing. Our brightly coloured boats, very rarely seen on this section of the Nile, attracted attention the whole way down the river.

As we explored some of the smaller channels, we came across several grade two rapids, which provided entertainment for the sit-on-tops.


In particular, at one small feature we found, some kids who were supposed to be fishing took an interest in our surfing.


They attempted to imitate our actions, paddling their dug out canoe into the flow, which was very close to ending in disaster, much to the amusement of all.


We continued downstream at a very relaxed pace and came across a small cliff face with a deep pool below.


It was time to get my adrenaline fix for the trip.

We took out at Basanna, a small fishing village, and jumped on the back of a pick up truck for the bumpy ride home. As we drove through the villages it gave me a chance to reflect on all the things that make paddling so special, it made me feel alive again to be involved once more. To move downstream and experience places that not everyone gets the opportunity to see. It helped remind me all the good things I missed about paddling, and made me even more determined to get fit again so that I can live and work the life I want to lead.