Nile River Festival 2019

Nile River Festival – 24th-27th January 2019

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. Watch the video above to see all the highlights from our 2018 festival!

For information on Nile River Festival 2019 visit our Facebook event page

NRF 2019 – Spectator Schedule

NRF 2019 – Information for competitors

Nile River Festival 2019 Rules

Logistics Partners:

Adrift Nalubale NRE logo Logo Bikeventures


Big Air Ramp, SUP Jousting & the Superhole Olympics: Thursday is all about fun. A tradition was formed a number of years ago of gathering every inflatable, or floating craft imaginable, taking them to Superhole, and going to have some fun in the sun, it has evolved into a crazy day affectionately known as the Superhole Olympics. Next up is the big air ramp, where competitors launch themselves off a huge ramp at the Nile River Explorers Campsite, throwing massive moves to impress the crowds & judges. Meanwhile, the SUP jousting event, and all sorts of floating craft well stocked with drinks are well placed to watch the big air fun!

Freestyle Friday: A unique format for this years event, and three epic events running alongside each other: the Uganda national championships (any nationality can enter), Kayak freestyle, and brand new for this year… white water raft freestyle!

For the Kayakers the day will start with the Uganda National Championships on Itanda hole, where the best from the country are going to fight for the title of Ugandan Champion, all nationalities are welcome to join the competition as part of the Nile River Festival, the highest placed Ugandan will take the Ugandan title. This event will also be used to choose the Ugandan team for the upcoming World Championships in Sort, Spain. This event will be judged by International Canoe Federation rules.

An enormous raft and kayak river run down the section of rapids, alongside a number of professional videographers who will stop off at all the best spots, filming the antics on the way down. Each kayaker, and raft, will have their own short edit made up of whatever they can do as they go down the river.  Judging will be done on the big screen during the Saturday night party.

Kayakers will have the opportunity to surf: Bubogo (downriver), Real Deal hole, Real Deal Wave, Superhole, Itanda hole and Vengeance. Their best move from each feature will make their own personal edit, which will be their competition entry!

The rafters who are either a group of experienced guides, or anyone game to get involved (with an experienced guide in the back) will hit Overtime, Retrospect, Bubugo, Superhole, Bad Place and Vengeance. Creativity, putting on a show, and generally being epic is the name of the game regardless of your craft!

Friday night fun at Jinja BaseCamp with a film night showcasing some awesome edits and dinner and drinks to celebrate an awesome day on the river.

The Hendri Coetzee Itanda Falls Memorial Race: Saturday hosts a grade 5 white water race like no other! Some of the world’s best kayakers race down the enormous and intimidating Itanda Falls rapid. With cold beers and a sounds system on site, this is an epic day for spectators too. In the afternoon a big air competition on the gigantic Cuban feature, a standing wave half way down Itanda falls. Huge moves and scary wipe outs make for entertaining watching, finishing with a nail-biting finale to the Nile River Festival on the water action with the Extreme race finals.

History says that there will be no shortage of action at the Saturday night party either, Jelly wrestling, live music and big screen showing the weekends antics set the stage for one of Jinja’s biggest parties.

Mountain Bike Race Bike Ventures will be running a mountain bike event on the Sunday, great biking through the trails and villages before we all gather for an afternoon prize giving and BBQ back at camp, which will double up as brunch or lunch for those with sore heads! 



NRF Big Air Ramp 2017

9am 2pm Superholympics! Grab your inflatable, your kayak (optional) and sort yourself out to get to Superhole for a whole bunch of fun… who knew that a giant inflatable unicorn would be so good at Surfing?
2:30pm 4:30pm Registration at the Nile River Explorers Campsite – all competitors must register and pay for all events on this day.
4.45pm Competitors meeting: Anyone competing in an event during the festival must be at the meeting
5.30 Big Air Ramp & SUP Jousting
8pm Quick prize giving (main prize giving Sunday at NRE Campsite)
8 9pm Continued registration
6pm til late Party at NRE

Friday 25th January: DAY 2 | FREESTYLE FRIDAY

NRF Endurance Race 2017

8.00am Kayak competitors briefing at NRE campsite for all kayak freestyle competitors.
8.30am Competitor truck leaves NRE campsite to Itanda hole feature.
10am-11am OPEN Uganda national championships on Itanda hole (open to all nationalities, top Uganda paddler in each category wins the title)
11.15am Transfer from Itanda hole to superhole.
11.30am meet at Jenny’s land for the freestyle Friday kayak competition
12pm Freestyle Friday kayak competition begins at Bubugo, Real Deal hole, Real deal wave.
1pm Meet rafts at superhole for raft / kayak superhole.

2pm continue down the river for the rest of the raft / kayak freestyle.

Finish time: We don’t have a fixed finish time. We’ll finish when we get to the end of the river, we’ll be enjoying, socialising and of course, doing some epic kayaking as we travel down.


Start of day: Meet at either Nile River Explorers, Adrift, or Nalubale rafting base at whatever time that company tells you when you book.
10.30am Raft freestyle competitors briefing. All companies meet on the water above overtime on the riverbank at the NRE put in.

11.30am. Begin Raft freestyle river trip at overtime rapid, run through Overtime, Retrospect and Bubugo.
1pm Meet kayak freestyle at Superhole and do the Superhole part of the raft freestyle
2pm Travel down the river alongside the kayak freestyle and continue through all the other competition rapids!

Finish time: We don’t have a fixed finish time. We’ll finish when we get to the end of the river, we’ll be enjoying, socialising and of course, doing some epic rafting as we travel down.


7.30pm till late: Film night and dinner at Jinja Base camp, Jinja town.


NRF Nile Special Freestyle 2017

9:00am Competitor’s truck will leave NRE to go to Itanda Falls (1hr)
9.30am Spectator’s truck will leave NRE to go to Itanda Falls (1hr)
11.30am Compulsory briefing for all competitors at Itanda Falls
12:00pm Hendri Coetzee Memorial Itanda Falls Extreme Race Prelims
1.30pm Cuban Big Air freestyle
4pm Trucks leave Itanda Falls for NRE Campsite (1hr)
6pm til late The big Saturday night party at NRE Campsite! Jello wrestling and live music, as well as the edits from the freestyle event!

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

Sunday 27th January: DAY 4 | Mountain bike race and prize giving

NRF Hendri Coetzee Extreme Race 2017

8am Competitors meet and registrations open at Nile River Explorers Campsite
8.30am Mountain bike race starts
12.30pm BBQ lunch and prize giving.

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

Flying to Uganda?

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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.

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.


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, watch in awe as paddlers race down the mighty Itanda Falls on Saturday.
For Freestyle Friday, the best way to see what’s going on is to GET INVOLVED! Rafts, suitable for people who have never been on wihtewater before, can also compete in the freestyle river run, with an experienced guide at the helm. Speak to Nile River Explorers, Adrift or Nalubale who are logistics partners for the event to get signed up for rafting for the day.

You don’t have to be a kayaker or even on the water to get involved, there is also a mountain bike race on Sunday.

You can either get yourself to the events with your own transport or pay a basic fee of 10,000 USH per trip for event transport which just contributes to the cost of the event to move 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 and Itanda!


(Subject to change)

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.
Superholympics – free to enter, just bring the humour.

Day 2.

Kayak Freestyle (including Uganda National Champs) – $25 USD for kayaker (or 40,000ugx for Ug citizens). Entry Includes: Entrance into the freestyle competition. Entry into the Uganda national transport to and from the river. A short video ‘edit’ of your kayak or rafts best moves of the day! Entry to that night’s party.

Raft freestyle: $50 per raft, (or 100k for raft made up only of Ug Citizens) Please note, you will also need to pay the per person full day rafting fee for the rafting direct with the rafting company which will include food, equipment transport and all the normal things included in a raft trip).

Entry Includes: Entrance into the freestyle competition. Transport to and from the river. A short video ‘edit’ of your kayak or rafts best moves of the day! Entry to that night’s party.

Day 3. Hendri Coetzee Itanda Falls Memorial Race and Cuban big air – $25 USD or 40,000 UGX Ug citizens
Includes: Entry to the Itanda race, entry to Cuban big air competition, a free beer, entry into the Saturday night party. For this day only, courtesy of Adrift and Wildwaters entrance fee to the Itanda Falls site have been waived.

Day 4: Mountain Bike Race – $35 or 130,000 UGX for Ugandan citizens
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. BBQ and a free beer.

Entry to all three water based days 55$ USD.

OVERALL WINNER – The overall King and Queen of the Nile, and winners of the Festival will be worked out as a total from the Kayak Freestyle, the Itanda Extreme race and the Big air freestyle. 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