Walking the world's longest river

It's not the easiest way to get to Egypt – but it's certainly the most adventurous.
Sometimes 'walking' means 'wading'. © Tom McShane
By Josh Sampiero

There aren’t many ‘firsts’ left in the world – but adventurer and explorer Levison Wood has found one. To date, no human being has ever walked the length of the River Nile – over 6,500km stretching through seven countries of the African continent.

Sunrise over the Nile River. © Tom McShane

The 31-year-old Englishman, who takes his inspiration from great explorers of old, such as Livingstone and Stanley, aims to complete the trip in approximately one calendar year. He’s starting at the source of the River Nile in Rwanda, traveling through swamps and wetlands, across the Sahara Desert, and finishing in Egypt where the river drains into the Mediterranean Sea.

Fishing for food. © Tom McShane

If successful, the trip will garner an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, as well as raise money for various charities – that do work directly in the countries Wood will pass through.

...and sometimes you simply need a canoe. © Tom McShane

The goal is to cover 100 miles a week, but they’ll have to deal with obstacles like weather, wetlands, and police boats. Over the course of the trip, he’ll employ various guides, each familiar with particular sections of the river. Their ‘insider’ knowledge will be invaluable as he travels through areas rarely seen by foreigners on foot.

Levison Woods and guide Boston, on foot. © Tom McShane

Biggest challenges? Avoiding the wildlife, staying dry – and finding places to sleep. So far Wood and his current guide Boston have stayed in both schoolhouses and stables, and been woken up by exactly one flood.

They’ve seen the historic Risimu Falls, met the locals, and been accused of being terrorists. They ate Christmas pudding, and celebrated the New Year.

The rivers winds and curves through lush jungle. © Tom McShane

As of mid-January, the pair have crossed into the Northern Hemisphere, and they’re currently traveling alongside Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. How many kilometers are left to go? The exact number is hard to pin down… but it’s a lot. While many challenges have been overcome, many lie ahead – they’ll have to travel through South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt before they arrive at the Nile Delta.

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