Nile River Festival 2015

Nile River Festival 2015 – results

The 10th edition of the Nile River Festival will take place on 22nd-25th January 2015

The aim of the Nile River Festival is to have an awesome time, both on and off the river, and to showcase white water kayaking and its lifestyle at its best. The events are all orientated around being as novel and exciting as possible, and will be more about kayaking, the river and the people than formal competition.

More information than you could possibly need is here on this page, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Planning to attend the event?! Let us know on our Facebook event page.

In association with:

NRE logo

And sponsored by

                      VW3D_SCL CFAO motors                                            Brussels airlines logo     palm-logo-e1360194349964     aquapac_logo_full 

                                        Final Logo Hairy Lemon   

                        JB Logo  Nile Special logo   nalubale logo

               Holland Park logo  ATA-new-logo-1




Big Air Ramp: A fun event with subjective judging. Go big or go home (or back to the bar)

Extreme Endurance Race: A mass start at the Bujagali dam with competitors racing in pairs all the way to the NRE rafting take-out some 30km downstream of the start line. 

Nile Special Freestyle: A freestyle event run using our unique rules that reward technicality, big air and combination moves

Hendri Coetzee Itanda Fall Memorial Race: A grade 5 white water race like no other. 


Cash Prizes

Kayaking Gear

Induction in the NRF Hall of Fame


Thursday 22nd January:

2:30pm – 4:30pm Registration at the Nile River Explorers Campsite – all competitors must register and pay for all events on this day.

5pm Competitors meeting: Anyone competing in an event must be at the meeting

5.30 onward…

IMG_3924EVENT 1 Big Air Ramp 
Big air kayak ramp event and opening party

8 – 9pm Continued registration

6pm til late Meet the Uganda Freestyle Kayak Team and the opening party

Friday 23rd January:


(30km Bujagali Dam to NRE rafting take-out)

10am Race briefing at NRE campsite, all extreme endurance race competitors need to be there.

10am Truck leaving from NRE campsite to take spectators down to the finishing line.

10.30am Truck leaving NRE to go to Silverback with the competitors.

11.30am Race starts.

1.30pm (approximately) First competitors expected to arrive at the finish line.

4.00pm Truck leaves the NRE takeout and ships back to Bujagali for the evening’s entertainment (option to stay at the Hairy Lemon)

6.00pm til late Party at Nile River Explorers Campsite/Hairy Lemon

Saturday 24th January:

ENRF14_Oleg_Kolmovsky-52VENT 3 – Nile Special Freestyle competition

(This particular part of the schedule is likely to change to account for water levels and number of competitors)

A vehicle will be leaving NRE at 11:00am on Saturday to take any competitors and spectators, to the Nile Special wave

1.30pm Competitors meeting at Nile Special. All competitors need to be at Nile Special. Event will be split into prelims and finals.

2pm – 6.30pm Nile Special Big Air Freestyle Event.

6.30pm Everyone heads back to NRE campsite 

8pm til late Live music and partying

Sunday 25th January:

NRF14_Oleg_Kolmovsky-59Event 4 – Hendri Coetzee Memorial Itanda Falls Extreme Race

10.30am Trucks leaving NRE to go down to Itanda.

12:00 midday all competitors should be at Itanda Falls ready for the briefing.

12.30pm Hendri Coetzee Memorial Itanda Falls Extreme Race.

4.30pm Return to Nile River Explorers Campsite

6pm til late Prize giving and the party to end all parties

Pirates code will be in place for the entire festival: If you’re not there, you get left behind!

The schedule is subject to change and may change at short notice!

Location and accommodation

The Nile River Festival is based out of the Nile River Explorers Campsite. There is a whole range of accommodation options available here, from camping through to private en-suite rooms. Please book directly with the campsite, and book in advance of arrival to avoid disappointment. The campsite will be very busy, lively and it is likely to get fully booked up.

Spectators and competitors may also want to stay at the Hairy Lemon on Friday, January 23rd. The Hairy Lemon will be putting on beach BBQ on Friday night and then a full on energy breakfast on Saturday! It’s an ideal location, very close to the end point of the Endurance Race and just downstream of the Nile Special freestyle event. (All those choosing to do this will be responsible for booking their own accommodation and will also be responsible for arranging their own transport.)

For directions to our base, please view our location page.

You can see where each is event is taking place in the above schedule and on the map below. Spectator transport will leave each morning for each day’s event from the NRE campsite. 

Looking for transport from Kampala to Jinja? The Pineapple Express is a great option!


NRF14_Oleg_Kolmovsky_Photo_Comp-1Spectators and party goers are more than welcome to come along to all of the events and watch the show.

Check out the schedule above to see when and where each event is happening. See the spectacle of kayakers throwing themselves off a huge ramp into the Bujagali Lake on Thursday, cheer competitors across the obstacle course finish line at the Nile River Explorers take-out with a tasty BBQ on Friday, marvel at the aerial tricks being thrown on the Nile Special wave on Saturday and watch in awe as paddlers race down the mighty Itanda Falls on Sunday’s finale.

You don’t have to be a kayaker to get involved:

  • There’s a photo competition open to anyone who attends the festival! The Ben Holland memorial photo contest is held at every NRF in memory of our friend, Ben, who lived on, worked on, and loved the Nile river. To see last year’s entries check out our Facebook page here. 

A small contribution will apply for each transport (i.e. taking the shuttle from NRE to watch the Freestyle at Nile Special) to contribute to the overall cost of moving everyone around.

Spectators will just need to pay for their own food, drinks, accommodation etc as with any other time, this will be paid directly to the various establishments. 

There will be a cash bar and music at the NRE opening party, Nile Special and Itanda!


General Rules:

  • Have the best day ever.
  • All competitors must sign in and pay entry fees on the 22nd January during the afternoon’s registration. No entry fees = no competing. Entry fees must be paid in cash only. Registration will be at Explorers Campsite, Bujagali.
  • The decisions by the organisers on all matters relating to the Festival are final. Any complaining will result in at least 1 beer funnel to be dished out at the organiser’s discretion.
  • Any complaints regarding judging decisions will have to be submitted within 20 minutes of the relevant event finishing and must be submitted after completion of a Nile Special beer funnel.
  • There will be four events as outlined below. Events can be entered individually or as a group.
  • All competitors must have their own travel insurance and must provide a copy to the organisers at registration.
  • The races and freestyle are playboats only, and you have to use the same kayak for the endurance, freestyle and Itanda race.
  • All competitors compete completely at their own risk and should understand that the competition and the organisers are in no way responsible for the paddlers’ safety during any part of the competition.


  • There aren’t any scoring rules, other than impress the crowd! The cooler it looks, the higher you are likely to score.
  • Judging will be done with a mix of kayakers and non-kayakers, each will have score cards from one to ten, and will hold them up after each attempt. Scoring a 1 is a funnel offense.
  • Competitors must have a helmet and buoyancy aid on for every attempt. – Competitors compete at their own risk. Big air ramps present risk of high impacts on landing and other potential injury risks as well.
  • This event does not count towards your overall ranking



  • Competitors must enter in groups of 2/pairs for safety purposes.
  • At least one competitor per team must be familiar with the section
  • Mass Start for all competitors.
  • Team Competitors must arrive within 30 seconds of each other at the finish line of the NRE take out and must be within 30 seconds of each other at any point down the river. Failure to comply with this means that the individuals are not sufficiently able to provide safety for their teammate and the team will be disqualified.
  • Safety is provided by your teammate, not by the event organisers, so take all the normal precautions you would on a normal day on the river.
  • All competitors should be at a sufficient ability level to paddle all the rapids they choose competently.
  • No Dead Dutchman, Kalagala or Hypoxia channels. Other than this, competitors may choose the lines and channels they wish, so long as they are choosing lines that they are comfortable running and at least one of the team knows well.
  • Competitors must complete the assault course at the finish line and a beer funnel before the time stops. Any non-drinkers will have to do a soda or milk funnel.
  • Playboats only for the race. You have to use the same boat for all the river events (ramp you can use whatever you want).



Event format:

Prelims: Competitors will be split into groups. We will run a jam session format of around 20/30 minutes per group. Anyone spending too long on the wave or just front surfing will be moved off with a fog horn by the organisers and will also be fined a Nile Special beer Funnel.

Finals: Top 5 paddlers will enter a final (or maybe more depending on numbers/time). Assuming suitable numbers there will be a separate women’s final. Final will be judged using the same format as prelims: a designated time slot (of around 20 to 30 minutes) will be used and the scoring system described below will be used.

Nile Special scoring system

  • From the whole jam session, each competitor’s best three moves will be counted.
  • Any separate move can only be scored once (e.g. a paddler does right blunt and a left blunt, they will only score it once). This is to encourage variety of moves.
  • Only aerial moves are counted. This is to encourage people to go big.
  • The moves are scored in the following way:

1pt: Blunt,
2pt: Backstab, Panam, Sidekick, Flash Back.
3pt: Donkey Flip, Flip Turn 4pt: Airscrew (landing on hull), Silly Flip, Pistol Flip, Back Panam, Helix
5pt: any ‘new move’ or single move that is awesome and not a standard move (such as Back Airscrew or similar).

  • Bonuses will be added to encourage people to do awesome cool things and make it look spectacular:

1pt: big
2pt: huge (can’t score big and huge on same move)
1pt: clean (not using your paddle)
1pt: stuck on the wave
Moves can still be scored if they flush, this is because some moves are amazing but don’t quite stay on the wave afterwards, but a bonus will be given if a move sticks (because its even more awesome if you do something cool and it stays on the wave).
1pt: extra flair At the judges’ discretion, if a move looks especially nice, or the paddler does a paddle twirl or something else cool they can have a flair bonus!
1pt: combo – If a paddler does a blunt to backstab, he will score the whole combo as one of his moves, e.g. blunt 1pt, backstab 2pts, combo bonus 1pt = 4pts.

  • Paddlers can use the same individual moves in different combos e.g. paddler can score ‘blunt to backstab’ and ‘blunt to McNasty’ as two different combos, but can’t score ‘blunt to backstab’ twice.
  • Each move can score bonuses in the combo. E.g. clean blunt to huge backstab would score: blunt 1pt, clean 1pt, combo bonus 1pt, backstab 2pt, huge 2pts Judging will be fair and impartial!



***This Race is bloody dangerous, if you are not up to it or unsure, just watch and have a beer on the bank!***

Hendri Coetzee put the following rules in place many years ago through many discussions about the potential for a race. They are non negotiable and if you don’t like them, don’t compete. Entry will be by invite only or competitors must prove their ability to run Itanda Falls competently through video footage or at least two referees (known by organisers).


  • Race will be two paddlers racing together ‘head to head’ with times for each competitor being recorded.
  • Start will be in the eddy above the ramp on river left.
  • Finish line is just behind the Bad Place in the eddy on the right.
  • Any competitor who takes the chicken line (right of bad place) will be disqualified and presented with a funnel.
  • Competitors must hit the bad place, the V line, or go left of the bad place. Any competitors planning to go left should know that it is a long paddle back up the eddy and the quickest line is taking the meat!


  • Fastest 6 competitors will go through to a final judged on style.
  • The scoring system will be simple. We want your grandmother to see who is winning. It should be that obvious.
  • The scoring system does not put constraints on the paddler, who is free to be creative, imaginative and to do whatever they feel to be most impressive.
  • Judging will be in a strictly come dancing format (yes, you did read that right). There will be 4 judges: 2 kayakers and 2 non-kayakers. They will have a number between 1 and 10. If they like what they see you will get a good score. Organisers will ensure judges are fair and impartial. Compulsory finish line is the centre of the bad place. Skirting the bad place on either side will be an automatic disqualification. Swims will be punishable by a funnel of Nile Special. You have to be 18 years old or older to compete in the Itanda Race.


A free NRF t-shirt is included with any event entry.

Event 1. Big Air Ramp – 15$USD or 15,000ugx for UG citizens. Includes: the opening party, entry into the big air ramp comp, a free beer.

Event 2. Extreme Endurance Race – $20USD or 20,000ugx for UG citizens Includes: Entrance into the endurance race, transport to Silverback from NRE campsite, transport back at the end of the race for those who want it, a free beer / soda through a funnel to finish, and entry to that night’s party.

Event 3. Nile Special Freestyle – $25 or 25,000ugx for UG citizens Includes: Entrance into the freestyle competition, entrance into the Saturday night party at NRE, and transport to/from the river and a free beer/soda.

Event 4. Hendri Coetzee Itanda Falls Memorial Race – $25 or 25,000ugx Ug citizens Includes: Entry to the Itanda race, free beer. Excludes: Fees for Itanda. Each competitor and spectator will be responsible for paying any fees associated with Itanda Falls site. 

Entry to all 4 events 80$USD or 80,000ugx for Ugandan citizens.

OVERALL WINNER – The overall winner of the Festival will be worked out as a total from events two, three and four. It does not include the ramp event.

  • The winner from each event will get 50pts, 2nd place 49pts, 3rd place 48pts etc.
  • The totals will be tallied up after each event.
  • The overall winner of the Festival will be the competitor with the most points at the end.
  • In the case where multiple people are tied on points at the end, then the best result will split the tie… e.g. a 1st, 3rd and 5th will beat three 3rds.

 Any questions: or call +256 772 880 322