Ascend the Nile Expedition underway again.
Ascend the Nile is underway again. The resumed Expedition started on 3 March 2006. The three man core team, Neil McGrigor, Cam McLeay and Garth MacIntyre, are travelling in their small inflatable boats known as Zap Cats on a unique Expedition to ascend the Nile from sea to source.
They have now made their way to the Karuma Falls where they are about to begin the next stage of the Expedition. The team had been planning to start from the point in Northern Uganda at which the Expedition came to a halt last November when rebels attacked, killing one of their aides and injuring the team. But there is still considerable rebel activity in the area and on advice from security advisors they have now proceeded further up the river before re-entering the water.
There is still much ahead of them in Uganda. They have to ascend some 67 rapids and a waterfall as well as travel across Lake Victoria. At least 8 of the rapids will be impossible to ascend with the Zap Cats alone.
The rapids have already proved difficult and dangerous. Wanting to follow faithfully the contour of the River and not deviate in land the team had previously used a Flying Inflatable Boat (FIB) to transport themselves and their equipment by air over the rapids. Whilst this proved extremely effective the pilot, Neil McGrigor encountered some very arduous flying conditions and eventually after a heavy landing the FIB was put beyond flying.
The team therefore had to solve the challenge of wanting to follow the river but knowing that there are rapids that just cannot be ascended in Zap Cats. The solution is one which was definitely not available to their Victorian predecessors – helihopping! Neil McGrigor has devised a four point fixing system on the Zap Cats which will allow them to be hooked onto to a helicopter’s strop. The boat and its payload of team member and equipment will then be literally whisked off the water and over the rapid. Whilst Neil has practised this many times in his garden in the UK it will interesting to see how the unique system fares in Uganda!
Once the team have overcome the rapids of Uganda they then face the long haul across Lake Victoria. The team will be effectively island hopping for some of the passage but will have to face at least 50 km out of sight of land in their 4 metre boats, another challenge and hopefully another first for the team.
The team hope to enter Rwanda in mid March ready for the final push up the Kagera river system and to the hoped for discovery of the longest source of the longest river in the world.
21 February 2006
Nile Expedition to resume after rebel attack
Ascend the Nile, the Expedition attempting the first complete ascent of the Nile, is to resume in early March. The historic journey up the Nile came to a halt in November 2005 when rebels attacked the team in the Murchison Falls National Park in Northern Uganda. The attack resulted in the tragic death of one of Expedition “aides” and left the team with serious injuries.
The Expedition will once again be co-led by British Adventurer, Neil McGrigor and New Zealander Cam McLeay. Neil, who suffered burns and a broken leg, is sufficiently recovered to continue the journey. Cam, whose feet suffered severe lacerations, is now fit enough to return to the river. Fellow New Zealander Garth MacIntyre, who received a bullet graze to the head, has also healed and will return to Africa to join them. This core team of three will continue to make their way up the river Nile to its longest source, believed to be in Rwanda.
The journey will once again be made in Zap Cats, small twin hulled inflatable boats. The team will be pleased to be reunited with their boats which have already travelled over 5300 km and seen them through some incredible adventures. These have included being the first people ever to run the Cataracts in Egypt, weathering storms at Kusti in Sudan, becoming the first team to ascend the Fola series of rapids in the Murchison Falls area of Uganda, encountering huge crocodiles and almost daily picking their way through vast pods of hippos.
Using this unique transport Neil, Cam and Garth also travelled unsupported across the vast Sudd swamp and in doing so were able to map and re-measure it. This has revealed that the Nile is definitely longer than ever thought and has led the team to be confident that there are even more exciting findings to be made, both about the Nile’s length and its source.
These discoveries are all part of the Expedition’s objectives and to ensure those objectives can still be met the journey will resume at the point the team left the river in November. As with the first part of the Expedition all proper safety precautions will be taken but the team will still continue largely unsupported.
Commenting on his imminent return to Africa Neil McGrigor said “I am looking forward to getting back on the river Nile. The first part of this journey was incredible in every way but, of course, tinged with great sadness at the loss of life. All of the team have thought hard about going back but have decided that our objectives still remain to be fulfilled. This is one of the last great adventures and it will focus positive attention on countries that for too long have suffered only bad news. We will, of course, take all steps to protect ourselves but equally we will not be deterred from achieving our goals by terrorism”…