Nile River Festival 2018

Nile River Festival – 25th-28th January 2018

Welcome to Africa’s largest and longest running whitewater festival.

The Nile River Festival is a four day event that makes the most of some of the biggest rapids in the world and celebrates all that is awesome about the River Nile, here in Uganda.

Every year, the NRF draws some of the best athletes from around the world to compete for the overall champion title.

For event updates, check out our Facebook event page.

Ben Holland Memorial Photo Competition

Sponsored by:


Logistics Partners:

Adrift Nalubale NRE logo Logo Bikeventures


Big Air Ramp, SUP Jousting & Bicycle Tour: Thursday is all about fun, starting with a bicycle tour of nearby Mabira Forest meeting at Kayak the Nile/NRE, organised by Bikeventures Uganda. Next up is the big air ramp – a fun event with subjective judging. Competitors launch themselves off the big air ramp, throwing massive moves to impress the crowds & judges, and SUP jousting alongside the big air fun!

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 & SUP-X Race: A freestyle event run using our unique rules that reward technicality, big air and combination moves. This year we will be running SUP-X races down the Nile Special wave train in the breaks between the freestyle competition in association with our sister company Nile SUP (timings TBC).

The First Jinja Mountain Bike Race & The Hendri Coetzee Itanda Falls Memorial Race: The first Jinja mountain bike race will begin at Kayak the Nile/NRE and race down to Itanda Falls in time for refreshments and a prime seat to watch the grade 5 white water race like no other!


Thursday 25th January: DAY 1 | REGISTRATION,


NRF Big Air Ramp 2017

9am – 2pm A gentle bicycle tour through Mabira Forest and the surrounding tea estates, starting at the Nile River Explorers Campsite and back in time for more of the fun, rentals are available and transport to and from the Forest, more info HERE.
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 Big Air Ramp & SUP Jousting
8pm Quick prize giving (main prize giving Sunday at NRE Camp)
8 – 9pm Continued registration
6pm til late Party at NRE

Friday 26th January: DAY 2 | EXTREME ENDURANCE RACE

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

NRF Endurance Race 2017

9am Compulsory race briefing at NRE campsite for all extreme endurance race competitors.
9:30am Competitor truck leaves NRE camp to race put in at Silverback (15 mins).
10.30am Race start
Truck leaving from NRE campsite to take spectators down to the finishing line (1hr 15 mins)
1pm (approximately) First competitors expected to arrive at the finish line.
1.30pm Competitors’ BBQ lunch at NRE take out
2.30pm Quick prize giving at NRE take out (main prize giving on Sunday)
Truck leaves the NRE takeout for those going back to NRE
(we recommend staying at the Hairy Lemon for the party)
7pm til late Party at the Hairy Lemon, theme: Flower Power Hippies

Saturday 27th January: DAY 3


NRF Nile Special Freestyle 2017

(The timings of this particular part of the schedule are likely to change to account for water levels and number of competitors)
9:30am Competitors’ truck leaves NRE camp to Nile Special (1hr)
10am Spectators‘ truck leaves NRE camp to Nile Special (1hr)
11am Competitors staying at the Lemon to paddle across to Nile Special
(Hairy Lemon will organise transport for your bags to be taken back to NRE for 5,000UGX each)
11am Oar boat departing the Lemon for Nile Special with spectators
(Hairy Lemon will organise transport for your bags to be taken back to NRE for 5,000UGX each)
11:30am Compulsory competitors briefing at Nile Special (we will run prelims & finals)
12am 3:30pm Nile Special Big Air Freestyle Event
3:30pm SUP X
5pm Finals (timing dependant on wave)
5:30pm Trucks leave Nile Special for NRE Campsite (1hr)
6:30pm til late Party at NRE Campsite
9pm Quick prize giving at NRE Party (main prize giving on Sunday)

Sunday 28th January: DAY 4 | JINJA’S FIRST BICYCLE RACE


NRF Hendri Coetzee Extreme Race 2017

8am Cyclists meet at Kayak the Nile and depart for Itanda Falls
9:30am Competitor’s truck will leave NRE to go to Itanda Falls (1hr)
10am Spectators truck will leave NRE to go to Itanda Falls (1hr)
12 Midday Compulsory briefing for all competitors at Itanda Falls
12:30pm Hendri Coetzee Memorial Itanda Falls Extreme Race
4pm Trucks leave Itanda Falls for NRE Campsite (1hr)
6pm til late Prize Giving then closing party at NRE Campsite

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

Flying to Uganda?

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Get a quote from Brussels Airlines – they’ll take your kayak for free in addition to the standard luggage allowance of 2x23kg bags!

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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.

We recommend staying at the Hairy Lemon on Friday, January 26th. 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). Transport from the island to view the freestyle event will be available for guests. 

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!


Spectators 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 Sunday and watch in awe as paddlers race down the mighty Itanda Falls on Saturday.

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 Competition is held at every NRF in memory of our friend Ben, who lived on, worked on, and loved the Nile river. There’s a cash prize for the winner.
  • There are also two bicycle events, one tour of Mabira Forest and the tea estates, and the first ever Jinja bicycle race!

A small fee of 5,000 USH per journey 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!


(Subject to change)

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

Day 1. Big Air Ramp & SUP Jousting – $15 USD or 30,000 UGX for UG citizens.
Includes: the opening party, entry into the big air ramp comp and SUP jousting, a free beer.
Cycle Tour of Mabira Forest – $25
Includes: 25-30km ride through Mabira Forest tea estates, and transport from Kayak the Nile and back in time for the ramp and SUPing. (Bike rental available for $15).

Day 2. Extreme Endurance Race – $20 USD or 35,000 UGX 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, a meal at the takeout and entry to that night’s party.

Day 3. Nile Special Freestyle & SUP X – $20 USD or 35,000 UGX for UG citizens
Includes: Entrance into the freestyle and SUP X competitions, entrance into the Saturday night party at NRE, and transport to/from the river and a free beer/soda.

Day 4. Hendri Coetzee Itanda Falls Memorial Race – $20 USD or 35,000 UGX Ug citizens
Includes: Entry to the Itanda race, free beer. For this day only, entrance fee to the Itanda Falls site have been waived.
Jinja’s First Mountain Bike Race – $35
Includes: 30km race through scenic Busoga following the mighty White Nile River. It’s a mass start and first man and first woman across the finish line wins.
(Entry to both cycling events combined is reduced to $50.)

Entry to all four water based days 70$ USD or 130,000 UGX for Ugandan citizens.
Cycling events combined are an extra $50 when booked together.

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.


Let us know you’re attending and get the
latest updates on our Facebook event page