Rapid fire! Navigating the Nile River

Rapid fire! Navigating the Nile River

The Sardine News found itself emanating from deep within the centre of the known universe, this past week – Uganda.


On location on the Blue Nile in Uganda. The pop gun wouldn’t help much against the hippos and crocs, but it was nice having a few AK47s around. Navigating the Nile in these boats made for the following story.

Marine Surveyor and Sonar professional – Clint Marx facilitated this mad trip into deepest darkest Africa, we had been tasked with surveying sections of the incredible Victoria Nile River – a raging torrent of angry water filled with dangerous creatures and treacherous obstacles. The following is an excerpt from the documentation of the trip…more chapters to follow!


“Relax”, said our Captain, Davey (Scottish).

And so we relaxed.

One second later, hell broke loose.

This section of The Victoria Nile, has been traversed by a few crazy professional river guides, and Clint and I, were number 7 and 8, who weren’t crazy professional river guides. And never will be. We dropped over the “downpour”, and into the abyss (Ok ok, on a scale of one to ten, for worst ever flips, our Captain gave this a three?!). The first wave was sure to topple us. Us meaning Captain Davey, Clint and I, and 250kgs + of survey and fishing equipment. On a 14ft inflatable raft that looked like it could handle anything.

We hit the wall of water hard, after a burst of gravity induced acceleration straight down, and lo, we made it out the back.

But then.

The next wall was a broken foamy of fury, with a barrel shaped pocket at it’s base. It was shaped like a Teahupoo reject so I hit the deck and ducked right down, as instructed to earlier. This all happened within one second btw. The next image is of being projected sky high and over backwards – Clint being thrown over and away from me, and the dark realisation, once again, of going into the water, upside down. I fell back into the boiling thunder and came up, rattled at the sheer violence of the impacts. Clint was catapulted well away and behind me, but soon he was shouting orders – “Get to the boat. The boat!”. Our training kicked in. Paddles still in hand, we trudged through the white water, and slowly realised our broader and more perilous predicament, and grabbed the rope.

This was croc country.

And hippo country.

And they were everywhere. Most had never seen a human, white or black. Our safety briefing kicked in. Get out of the water. But the river had us now. And we were going where it said we should. Clint grabbed the opposite side of the capsized raft to me, where soon Davey surfaced, he had been trapped under the upturned boat, as any good raft captain should be, the entire time. He has to maintain control of those huge wooden paddles he so deftly manoeuvres, in the most challenging circumstances. I on the hand, was going backwards fast, holding the rope on the other side. Then we hit reef. My legs were up, as instructed, so as not to present an easy target, and the boat soon just rode over me. Luckily for lifejacket and water bag – as I went over the cheese grater (as they now call it), I had the weight of the entire load crushing down on me, as I was dragged along by the torrent, now measured in decibels.

Then suddenly we were free but now stuck in a huge hippo pool eddy. Expedition Leader and all round Africa survivial guru Pete Meredith, and his highly able Ugandan river guide and assistant Alex, were on us in a flash, speeding across from the farside f the river, with their Yamaha outboard powered raft.

I normally do the rescuing in these scenarios but not this time, and to be rescued was such a fantastic experience. Alex leaned in, grabbed me by the lifejacket and literally yanked me out of the water. Clint next. Procedures came flooding back and soon we were back in the water with the hippos and crocs, but we had righted the boat.

The rescue (ha ha) was completed in about 30 seconds. We were back in our positions and heading back down river – fast!

Shaken and stirred, but very, very focused from there on out. (Check the video and how our attitudes change at a point. Unfortunately the GoPro was not running on that rapid as it was meant to be an easy one, but thanks to Davey we have these clips to paint the picture with).


What more could you want out of an adventure?

What an amazing experience at the hands of the most understated yet proficient crew, we ever will work with, on The Nile River. That’s because, simply, there is just no-one else, who could do what they do, for fun and work, and keep it all so safe and (sur)real.

Salute Pete, Bernhard, Alex, Davey and Scotty!

And to The Nile!


Pete and his crew can be contacted through http://tia-adventures.com, if you ever find yourselves in Uganda. They are based in Jinja, the hotbed of whitewater adventuring of Africa.

1 comment for “Rapid fire! Navigating the Nile River

  1. Bernard
    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Nice article Sean! Fun and crazy times!

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