Levison Wood will spend Christmas in rural Africa this year. He’s attempting to wander 4,250 miles though the wilds of Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt – the entire length of the River Nile. In 2014, Channel 4 will release a four-part TV series documenting his feat.
“There are a lot of things that could go wrong,” explains Levison. There will be no “sipping on a gin and tonic as the sun goes down,” he says. Despite serving in Afghanistan and training in Africa, he’s never done an expedition on this scale before. If fact, no one has. This will be the first ever attempt to walk the world’s longest river.
During this epic year-long journey, Levison will tackle 100 miles per week and along the way will be joined by local guides who will try to keep him safe, and help him communicate with border officials, local villagers and tribal chiefs.
As well as political unrest in certain nations, Levison may have to contend with aggressive animals. “I’ve spent a bit of time researching predator behaviour,” says Levison. “But if I’m down by the banks getting some water in the evening, you never know what’s lurking in the depths. The crocodiles may be hungry.”
Levison’s biggest fear, game-wise, is coming across an aggressive hippo or a buffalo. “There’s not a lot you can do when you’ve got a two-tonne animal charging towards you,” he says. “However, I’m more likely to get Malaria or just fall ill.”
Unlike some popular adventure shows, there will be no special effects or faked drama during this series, explains Levison, “I’ll probably have to eat some pretty nasty things along the way but none of it will be staged for the telly. If I’m in villages then I can buy food, if I’m by the river I can fish. If I’m able to catch small game like rabbits or wild turkeys then I’ll do that.”
Guinness World Record holder Ed Stafford – the first man to walk 3,999 miles along the length of the Amazon River – has been giving Levison some tips. “A lot of his advice was on how to stay sane, being out there and in the wilderness all on your own,” he explains. But it will very much be a 21st-century expedition: “I’m going to listen to audio books along the way to remind me of home… I’ve got a device that turns my iPhone in to a satellite phone. I can communicate with the world on Facebook and I’ve got a website with a map showing exactly where I’m going to be each day. Although, of course, it does mean I’ll have to carry all of this stuff as well,” he chuckles.
Not only is this an opportunity for Levison to test himself to the limits, but he will be raising money for his favourite four charities – Space for Giants, Tusk, AMECA and the Army Benevolent Fund.
Follow Levison on his adventure at www.walkthenile.com
Visit the River Nile with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details
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