(By Kyle Henning) Six weeks ago, British explorer and photojournalist Levison Wood and his local guide Boston set off from the Nyungwe Forest of western Rwanda on foot. From a sign marked ‘Furthest Source of the Nile River’ at 2,400m elevation, the two men began walking toward the Mediterranean Sea, a destination 6,650km downstream and seven countries away.
Finding the true source of the Nile River required diligent research. In an interview with ExplorersWeb, Levison stated, “There is still some controversy over this. Most people take Lake Victoria to be the Source but there is a feeder stream called the Kagera River, which in itself splits into two tributaries. The most southerly begins in Burundi, but the longest, by only a few miles, is in the rainforests of western Rwanda.”
Following the riverbank as closely as possible, Levison and Boston trekked 1,000km through Rwanda, hugging the border of Burundi, and into Tanzania. Local fisherman let them join their hunt, and reporters interviewed them while they walked. They faced threats from wet jungles, steep gorges, biting insects, and aggressive Nile crocodiles before reaching the more developed shores of Lake Victoria, following its northwestern edge into Uganda and across the Equator.
While exploring Kampala, they were treated to more modern comforts. They attended lunch with British High Commissioner Alison Blackburne, and had a song written about them by rapper Bakri and Illest DJ Bobby. Listen here.
The Ugandan capital lies within the subnational Kingdom of Buganda. While trekking on the Jinja highway, Levison and Boston enjoyed a chance encounter with the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II, during a public appearance (video). With the first 1,000km completed, they are continuing their trek from Uganda toward the sea.
Lake Victoria flows into the White Nile at the town of Jinja, flowing north toward Khartoum, Sudan where it is joined by the Blue Nile from Ethiopia. Levison and Boston have another dangerous 5,600km lying ahead of them. The jungles of northern Uganda still face threats from the Lord’s Resistance Army, South Sudan is struggling with an internal armed conflict, and the vast Sahara Desert still looms. If successful in his quest, Levison will become the first person on record to walk the length of the Nile River from source to sea.
Levison Wood, 31, is a full time explorer and photojournalist, and has recently escorted film crews as safety guard in hostile areas. He has studied East African history and geography for over ten years and led expeditions across the continent. Lev has travelled in over 80 countries and has recently returned from walking across Madagascar. Lev is a former Captain in the British Parachute Regiment where he served in Afghanistan in 2008. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an accomplished public speaker.
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