Meet the Team

At Nile River Explorers we all feel part of one big family. Our senior management and most of our guides have worked together for many years and are dedicated to ensuring that your safety, personal enjoyment and satisfaction come first.

Jon Dahl


JohnJon’s first trip to Uganda was with the legendary Kingsley Holgate on the Afrika Odyssey trip in 1993, and it wasn’t 18 months before he was back with an old landrover and some rafts .

The town of Jinja has changed immensely since then and so has Nile River Explorers. No longer found paddling rafts downstream daily, Jon has had more time to devote to expanding NRE’s activities and affiliations to make it the kind of base he would have dreamed of finding in his travelling days .

He has done almost every job there is to do in the company and has replaced himself with someone better qualified for that job. His dream is to make himself redundant, but every time he gets close he finds another new activity or adventure to keep him inspired (and employed!). His enthusiasm and innovation seem to trickle all the way down in and he would be proud to think that your time with Nile River Explorers was, more than anything else, FUN.


Leslie Carvell


Leslie, Shida & PercyAfter training in Hotel and Catering Management and having interned at the Sydney Opera House, Leslie started her own independent travelling career, which in those days inevitably lead her to work as an overland driver .

Having exhausted Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East she managed the office for a large overland company in the UK for 4 ½ years and juggled operations on all those continents for countless trucks and passengers . Finding UK winters long and dark,  she jumped at the offer of a job with Nile River Explorers in Jinja 15 years ago but insisted on bringing her signature VW Beetle, which she personally restored.

Her vision, communication and media experience and calm logistic skills have integrated NRE’s many activities and affiliates and added a smooth professionalism that has helped make us the leader in Uganda for a  one stop travel experience . These , and her other countless talents make her an exceptionally valuable asset to the NRE team and you can be sure that the seamless tourist experience you can find at NRE has her “behind the scenes”  stamp on it somewhere .  


Mark Vine


MarkThis is the face behind your email replies…and what a face. Mark first visited Jinja 25 years ago on his maiden trans Africa motorbike trip. He then became another veteran of the multi continent overland driving industry, but has added to it a dimension of several years of tailor made safaris across East Africa.

He misses very little about his British homeland (but if you pop a Melton Mowbray pork pie in your bag, you may find your Jinja experience very smooth indeed……). He has a sign in his home that reads “be nice, or leave”  but I've yet to see him order anyone to leave…his tolerance levels are very high.

Mark is the man who coordinates our wide range of river, accommodation, vehicle, catering and logistics staff and does it with a humour and skill that makes us proud that he is probably the first person you’ll meet when you arrive for an NRE activity.

If you are unlucky enough not to find him in the office when you arrive, chances are he is traversing the USA on a Harley Davidson.


Juma Kalikwani


Juma Kalikwani Juma grew up in Jinja, and is one of our most accomplished river guides, kayakers and our head guide. Locally he is better known as “Via- Man”, winner of the Eastern Uganda Artist of the year award in 2008 for his Afro Beat hits. He has been working on rivers for 18 years, starting out as a kayaker.

He has represented Uganda in the world kayaking championships in Australia, and has guided rafts on the Zambezi, and in South Africa, France and Scotland. His infectious humour, and cool competence make him a favourite, and if you are lucky he might break out in song as you float through the pools.



Jacques Dippenaar


Jacques DippenaarJacques has been visiting the Explorers River Camp as an overland driver since 1999. He has both served in various areas of the tourism industry and have accrued a vast pool of experience.

After 11 years of driving overland trucks through Africa, Jacques has a general knowledge that puts most guide books to shame and eagerly shares his colorful stories with young and old alike. With many hidden talents including but not limited to cooking, being a diesel mechanic and all round handy man, fire poi dancing and knitting, he’s the go-to guy if you’re up for a laugh and a cold beer. He manages the camp grounds and maintenance with an easy flair, assisting wherever he is needed and doing so with a smile on his face.



Ross Marshall


Ross MarshallRoss joined us with a fresh marketing degree and a passion for working with people.  Having travelled through out Africa visiting many countries he has had the wanderlust firmly instilled in his heart and loves to hear about the adventures you've been on.

When he isn't working he treks through East Africa visiting both remote and well travelled areas to broaden his knowledge and experience as much as he can. A favourite in town he has a friendly smile and hearty welcome for every weary traveller that make their way to our campsite.

Look for his fiery red beard in the bar and he will gladly join you for a cold beer and a warm chat. 



Nash Karanja


NashIf you arrive at Explorers Backpackers and meet a man with hair, its Nash. If you're unsure, look for the bicycle chain bracelet….its a giveaway .

Nash's first love is bicycles and he came to Uganda from his native Kenya for the first time 10 years ago, assisting on a bicycle tour. Now he keeps his own fleet of handpicked and serviced bikes which he will rent to you only if you promise to have fun.

His sunny, easy going personality and ability to organize anything under pressure also makes him perfect to manage our backpackers and help you maximise your stay. Enjoy meeting him on your first trip, and enjoy coming back as his friend on your subsequent trips.


Davey O'Hare


Select Image to viewDavey, as well as being a film-maker is a lifetime paddler, starting at age 13, and winning 2 Scottish and 1 British National Junior Surf Kayaking championships. He has kayaked in multiple countries on 4 continents. He is also a trained and experienced raft guide, having worked in Austria and on the Zambezi for many years till he moved to Uganda in 2004 to guide here.

All this experience makes him a great asset to our trips. Not only is he  extremely competent on the river, he is also a highly skilled photographer and film maker much in demand in the adventure travel industry.

He claims to like big bums, travel and whiskey, not sure in which order. However, his most notable claim to fame is probably his attempt at Bull Riding in Montana when he got an opportunity to mount a professional bull….7 seconds, nearly a points ride. Not bad for an outright novice, although he declares it to have been the scariest 7 seconds of his life.


Sam & Emily Ward


Sam & Emily KTN Kayak the Nile, based at Explorers River Camp, is now owned and operated by seasoned coaching couple, Sam Ward (GB Team Coach) and Emily Ward (2x British Champion).

Both originally from the UK, between them they have 32 years of kayaking and coaching experience, 20 of which we have been in Uganda. They are both fully accredited British Canoe Union coaches, and have kayaked and coached in over twenty countries. Together, they provide high quality, professional and safe kayaking experiences adhering to all UK standard safety operating procedures, and are the most accomplished and professional coaching team in Africa.

Sam's in charge of operations so can often be found bouncing in and out of the office; working with our top team of instructor or on the water himself delivering coaching sessions. For 7 years Sam coached the GB freestyle kayak team, helping them into over 30 medal positions in international competitions.  He recently retired from the role to compete himself and is currently ranked 5th in the world.

When not behind her desk, Emily's usually found training; she's currently ranked 5th in the world in freestyle kayaking and is looking ahead to the 2017 World Championship where she hopes to up her position.

In 2007, having already worked for a number of kayaking companies, Sam set out alone and created, 'Love it Live it', a specialist coaching holiday company. Since then, along with Emily, the nomadic pair has run Love it Live it trips in the UK, Canada, Thailand, Nepal, Zambia and of course Uganda, but it's the Nile, with it's warm water and quality rapids that's captured their hearts. Love it Live it continues to run holidays in those destinations, as well on the Nile for KTN, but it's Uganda that Sam and Emily now call home.


George Robert Everest Esq


Geroge EverestLike most bass guitarists, George would find an ordinary day job quite dull. So instead, he has taken the literary education of Eastern Uganda upon himself in the form of George’s Book Exchange and is to be found taste testing different tea brands at our office most mornings.

George likes to refer to his position with us as 'The Office Lurker' where he gets roped in to sort out computers and office systems with a logic that seems to elude the rest of the staff. We defy you to guess what his real academic qualifications are (certainly not because he doesn’t have any), but no university could have taught him the skills he uses every day…..customs official negotiations, road maintenance manager, solar power installer, dog trainer and right handed bowler.

He doesn’t raft anymore, but he does just about everything else. You will battle to box and label this man just as much as we have. But you will enjoy trying.