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Bujagali Falls of the White Nile River

A Memoir

   The Bujagali Falls section of the White Nile River in Uganda, Africa was one of the world's best known and most loved big water rivers commercially rafted. Filled with big rapids in a pool drop setting, easy logistics and warm water put it high on the destination list for paddlers and tourist around the world. The hospitable Nile River Explorer's camp offered lodgings and food at decent prices, served as put-in and the bar was nothing short of Legendary. That's right, with a capital L. Stories of benders at the NRE bar are heard around the world.  Unfortunately we were in country for an expedition and only had creekboats to take down some classic play territory.
   Class IV-V big water starts just below the big NRE eddy with a quick warm up on "Donald" followed by the namesake of the run, Bujagali Falls, a fun rapid with multiple lines.

Two African greats, Hendri Coetzee and Bujagali Falls.

Bujagali Falls has many lines, Jesse Coombs runs the right left side.

Another lap on Bujagali? Yes please.

As always the size of big water is hard to portray in an image. Jesse gets into Bujagali.

   The rapids have fantastic names on the White Nile. Below Bujagali Falls the river splits into multiple channels. A quick portage over an island on the left put you in above Blade Runner and Widowmaker.

Jesse Coombs finds the line in Blade Runner.

   I'm not quite sure if the next rapid is still considered part of Blade Runner or has its own name. There is only an eddy in between the two so most likely the former. At the bottom of the Blade Runner combo you can look back up and see the rarely run Widowmaker. We decided to check it out and hiked up the river right bank to get a view of it, which is no easy task. Still unable to see it from river right we ferried to a rock island in the middle, and eventually the center island to get a better view. Widowmaker is generally run at higher flows than we had, but after a brief scout some of the team gave it a go. It's a fine line, driving hard right to squeeze between two massive holes.

Hendri Coetzee leads the charge into Widowmaker.

Jesse Coombs drops in.

Once below Blade Runner or Widowmaker, it's a few smaller fun rapids and one playspot until the last rapid comes into view. As does the demise of the Bujagali Falls section of the White Nile. 

Jesse Coombs and the dam under construction.

Silverback, the final rapid is just a wave train. Just a really big wave train. Pure fun; Jesse goes through a wave in Silverback..

Too fun!

Discussing the joy of such fun whitewater.

Tragically in the spring of 2012 as the dam came closer to completion the Bujagali Falls section of the White Nile was closed to whitewater enthusiasts. 

White Nile shuttle fun.

Thanks to First Ascent for sponsoring this trip, and to Jackson Kayak, Kokatat, Werner and Bomber Gear for supplying some wonderful gear.