Isimba Dam

The Isimba hydropower project is well underway in Uganda and the unfortunate truth is that we will soon be losing some of the white water on this section of amazing rapids. However, there will still be a lot of incredible sections of world-class white water available after Isimba is completed, we’ve created an interactive Nile River Map to highlight all the Mighty Nile still has to offer.

There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the dam, and it is hard for people to find out accurate information on what is happening, so we have set up this page up to provide kayakers with information about what is going on to the best of our knowledge.

Here’s an image of the current dam construction, taken by Will from Nalubale Rafting.
Dam Construction

Completion date

  • There has been problems with the construction of the dam, lots of media are reporting cracks in the dam and a variety of other problems including workers strikes due to poor working conditions. The problems have delayed the completion of the project. 
  • The Ministry of Energy have informed us that flooding will happen on 15 November 2018, this was confirmed in October 2018.

What’s going?

The rapids that will definitely be flooded include:

  • Malalu
  • Mu2
  • Nile Special

  • Kula Shaker
  • Hair of the Dog

What’s staying?

The following rapids will definitely be left in place post dam:

  • Itanda
  • Kalagala
  • Hypoxia
  • Superhole
  • Real Deal
  • Babooga

  • Babooska
  • Retrospect
  • Chop Suey
  • Fairy Tale
  • Overtime
  • Dead Dutchman

  • Giggity Giggity
  • Pyramid
  • Jaws
  • The rapid below the Owen Falls Dam

There is uncertainty about the Vengeance and Novacaine rapids. Depending on which displacement map you look at they are either flooded or unaffected, hopefully we can update you more on this before completion because we are working on clarification with the construction company.

What does this mean for Kayak the Nile?

Kayak the Nile will continue to operate post Isimba Dam completion, utilising the remaining white water and the numerous lakes and calmer river sections (see our interactive Nile River Map for white water sections remaining post-Isimba).

What does this mean for the Hairy Lemon Island?

  • The Hairy Lemon Island will be completely submerged upon full flooding of the reservoir
  • The Hairy Lemon has now closed and is no longer operational, all trees on the islands have been chopped down and wildlife rescue is ongoing until the flooding commences in November


Malalu has sadly now been flooded and lost due to the progress of the dam project. The quarry on the river left may continue to operate for some time until the actual flooding occurs, so please be careful if you choose to head down to where the Malalu wave used to form.

Unconfirmed rumours say that it does appear sometimes when the water is flowing fully through the dam outlet, but we have yet to catch the wave working.

Nile River Festival

The Nile River Festival will continue long after the Isimba Dam, and most of the festival in its current format is actually held on rapids that won’t be affected.

2018 will be the last time the freestyle part of the competition is held at Nile Special, but while the locations for the competition days may change slightly, the spirit and the spectacular show will go on. The ramp, Itanda race, and for the most part the endurance race will remain unchanged post flooding, and it’s likely we will add a freestyle throw down on one of the remaining features, and a big trick contest on the Cuban.

One thing is for sure, if you have never surfed Nile Special or you would like to surf it one more time you should get a move on and get yourself out here!

If you have any questions about any of the above, or anything to do with Kayaking on the Nile, get in touch below:

Here is a section from Ugandan Television outlet NTV, reporting on the delays of the dam: