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Walking the Nile

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Wooden huts that intermittently line the rough road that runs alongside the river have been replaced with Adobe mud compounds. As the options were running shorter than our food, we were forced to make our way back along the main road, only to find our way barred yet again.

With over 700 miles of his epic journey already under his belt to walk the entire 4250 miles of the River Nile, Captain Levison Wood, aged 31, of Cheadle Road, Forsbrook, felt it was a good time to take a few days off and take advantage of a generous offer made by the Ugandan Government to visit the Mountain gorilla sanctuary in the western part of the country. In the meantime the journey has taken Captain Wood and his constant companion Boston into the northern wilds of Uganda, travelling into the ‘Lake District’ where the White Nile meanders through mile after mile of dense reed swamp. The journey then takes him through strongholds for the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, and as the security situation deteriorates he finds himself accompanied by police vans and armed officers. Levison’s goal is to reach the Mediterranean Sea – whatever lies in his way and wherever the Nile takes him for 4200 miles.

For the first time since we started the journey together I begin to doubt the purpose of the undertaking and after having lost my colleague Matt Power recently in Uganda the whole enterprise is certainly not worth another life.

WITH almost 1,000 miles completed during the first three months of Captain Levison Wood’s, epic journey to become the first recorded person ever to walk the entire 4,250 miles from source to sea the time has come to assess the story so far. I heard that the rebel fighters were staging a massive offensive on the key towns which straddle the Nile – Bentiu, Malakal and Renk to the north of Bor, all of which were part of my journey following the Nile. Originating from the Congo Boston, who now resides with his family in Uganda, is a self confessed rebel fighter who was forced to flee from his homeland. We spent an emotional night reminiscing about our adventures, we laughed and cried about the scrapes we had got ourselves into and the countless memories that we will share for the rest of our lives.While raising money for four of his favourite charities the former paratrooper and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society said to the Post and Times: “The highlands of Rwanda seem a long way off since we commenced this journey just over four weeks ago. Being on his own is nothing new to him as there have been many other solitary adventures, through Russia, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan in the past. Deciding that we may not be too popular with the local people we push on with an additional spring in our heels and cover the 31 kilometres to Obangi by mid afternoon.

The only good thing that came out of that particular event was the welcome sight of a shanty bar with the added luxury of a soft but dirty mattress and bucket shower.Having been extremely gentle with Kej and Azamak over the last two days, they have repaid our misplaced kindness by doing a runner when we were just about to start the next leg of our journey. Walking with his local translator and guide Boston, the adventurers have become committed friends with both being determined to reach and face their greatest challenge to date the Sudd swamp. Along the way, he encounters modern Africa, its people and its wildlife face-to-face and at ground level. Although the course of action he took is not the one he would have chosen for baby Samuel, at least he will have a chance for long term survival and in the fullness of time be able to join an adult troop and be released back into the wild.

This then provides us with plenty of rest time after we reach our set destination or close to 4pm whichever is the sooner. The tension was as thick as the damp air and could have been cut with a knife as every sound from the undergrowth elicited a nervous halt. Demanding our papers and the usual administrative fee that usually enables progress, our pace is slowed to a crawl. I have also been very privileged to be invited by the Head of the Uganda Wildlife Authority to visit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the west of the country to see the magnificent mountain gorillas, of which there are only 800 left in the wild. I make the resolve that this trip is my risk and mine alone and so with a heavy heart I tell him that he cannot continue with me any further.The people are naturally warm and generous to guests and reluctant to alter their traditional lifestyle. Matt was only dropping in and walking with him for a week, but you got the sense that he’d trudge on as long as it took to get the story and to understand the man he was walking with. Accompanied by an early morning mist the road weaved its way through a maze of shacks that lined the highway as we headed into the northern bush.

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