Silverback Swallowed

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Sniff, sniff…Kayakers in Uganda’s White Nile region joined in an Irish Wake hosted by outfitter Nile River Explorers as an era came to an end on perhaps the best play run in the world: on March 1, the Day 1 Section (Silverback) of the Nile was closed to river traffic through the main rapid of Silverback for an upcoming hydro project…

“Yesterday was a sad day in the whitewater world,” wrote four-time freestyle world champion Eric Jackson on his blog. “The Day 1 Section (Silverback) of the Nile was closed to river traffic through the main rapid of Silverback. The hydro project that claimed my favorite wave on the river (Ugly Sisters) already, has now claimed Silverback rapid and soon the river upstream will begin to flood out. It was the last day, last run of this section of the Nile, perhaps forever, or until the dam breaks or is taken down in future generations…”

The Jackson family, Team Jackson and others ventured over to Africa to pay their last, airborne respects to the river. A giant posse of paddlers participated in this final flotilla, consisting of local paddlers, rafters, and members of conservation groups.

The closing of the section came only 12 years after it opened up to modern-day paddlers. The section opened in 1999.

“My first time here was in 2003,” says EJ, who used the eriver as a setting for his instructional videos “EJ’s Playboating Basics” and “EJ’s Advanced Playboating”. Along with Nick Troutman, he’s using this trip, in part, to produce two new videos: “Expert Freestyle” and “Pro Freestyle”.

“We shot the final run of Silverback and have it captured forever on video,” he says. “More dam projects are planned for the lower sections of the Nile as well, and without intervention it will be the same fate for the rest of this incredible river.”

After the Silverback section was closed, a huge party raged throughout the night to pay respect to the river. While the rapid still exists, the river is closed and construction crews are dumping rock to create the final section of dam.