River Cruises - The Nile Part 2
By Derek Swanson (30 April 2009)
The White Nile
The Nile is 4,132 miles long and has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The previous flight covered the route from Luxor to Khartoum. This flight traces the White Nile from Khartoum to its source at Lake Victoria in Uganda.
Since the default FS2004 scenery in this area is rather bland, I strongly recommend the installation of three freeware files - Egypt scenery, Khartoum Airport and Egypt mesh. I also used FScene Europe, and an FS2002 river width enhancement NEWRIVER.ZIP.
Leaving Khartoum (HSSS), the river is easy to follow with its many midstream islands. The surrounding terrain continues to be sandy and barren for the first few miles and although it does become greener as you move south, it remains flat and rather featureless. Renk (HSRN) is the first airport on our route, over 200 miles south of Khartoum and has a grass strip of just over 1000m, so choose your plane carefully if you intend to land here. The river continues to be broad with midstream islands for most of the trip to Renk and given the rather uninteresting terrain you may choose to set the autopilot and advance the sim rate.
The next airport is Malakal (HSSM) which is near a small town of the same name and is a little more civilized than Renk, having an asphalt runway of around 1800m. After Malakal the Nile starts a westerly deviation. This stretch of river includes a series of interconnecting lakes and significant areas of green vegetation, with tributaries arising from these areas on both sides of the river. As the Nile bends south again, the green terrain fades back to a more arid nature. After the section with the lakes, the Nile is rendered by FS2004 as a thin ribbon which at times is broken, although its path can still be traced through the broad plain in which it sits. A little further on the river seems to disappear altogether but if you keep flying south with the GPS map open you can follow the valley bed until the river re-emerges after a second lake complex.
From here to the next airport - Bor (HSBR) - the river sits in a very wide bed flanked by luscious green terrain. Once again the river bed is filled with a series of lakelets, perhaps representing the river in a dry season. Bor is rendered in FS2004 as a short dirt strip so for a better landing place you must wait until you reach Juba (HSSJ) 80nm miles further south. Note that if you are landing at Bor it has a 1300m dirt runway with a telegraph pole and a street light directly in line with the south runway which you need to clear on take-off !!
About 50nm north of Juba there is a large island in the middle of the river - a good navigation marker. 13nm north of Juba there is a solitary hill - the first seen on this flight - and portends the higher ground we'll encounter later. FS2004 depicts Juba sitting in a box-shaped depression so care is needed on approach to avoid overshooting the runway on landing and avoiding the "hump" after takeoff. Beyond Juba the White Nile narrows again and in the distance the hills appear that mark the border with Uganda. There are a few more dirt airstrips on your route if you wish to take advantage of them but real destination is Entebbe (HUEN), on the shore of Lake Victoria - the source of the White Nile.
Just before the Ugandan border, the Nile once again reverts to a ribbon which is joined by tributaries from the higher ground. Just past the first peak the river takes a south-westerly curve around the high ground, so at the first "fork", take the stream to the right - going south, even though this appears to be the smaller of the two. There are several other "forks" to navigate over the next few miles and each time the southerly and westerly route should be taken. A lake soon appears on the horizon and this is the bearing to take. If you follow the river closely it bends a number of times but eventually leads to the lake. The GPS map can be of assistance in navigating this area. From here you follow the valley, passing a few more small lakes until the very large Lake Albert is reached. Once again, using the GPS map at an appropriate zoom level can help with navigation down this valley. At the point where the wide outflow from Lake Albert appears, the elevation mesh makes it look as though the river we've been following feeds into the lake rather than flows out from it, but such is FS2004!
A little while after the two bridges (which sadly, are too low to fly under), the lake proper is reached and although the White Nile does flow out of Lake Albert, this is not the true source. There is a ribbon river which joins Lake Albert from the left at the narrow point of the junction of Lake Albert and the Nile outflow. This is the next bit of river to follow as it originates from Lake Victoria a few miles to the east. The ribbon soon becomes a much wider river which is easy to follow.
With real weather enabled I encountered some unexpected low cloud with thunder and lightning at this point. I also encountered another bridge and happily, this one was flyable.
When the next set of lakes is reached, you must keep to the right to find the outflow (actually the inflow) at the far end, then follow the narrow channel between the oddly shaped island and the right bank. The GPS map is a good help navigating this bit and there are another couple of ribbon-river sections before you reach the vast expanse of Lake Victoria. Entebbe is a few miles west of our entry point to the lake and the airport sits on one of the many peninsulas that protrude into the lake. Although classed as an "International" airport this is not suggested by FS2004's rendition, although runway 17 does have an ILS (better scenery is available). Landing here is very satisfying, knowing that you're at the end of a very long journey. Our Nile odyssey is not yet, however, complete. We've yet to fly the final section, Luxor to the Mediterranean Sea...