Explorer Levison Wood takes on River Nile walk

Explorer Levison Wood attempts the first walk of the full length of the River Nile

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An explorer is attempting to become the first person to walk the length of the River Nile.

It will see Levison Wood, 31, set out from the highlands of Rwanda on Sunday on the start of a 4,250-mile journey that is expected to take 12 months.

Mr Wood, originally from Forsbrook in Staffordshire but now living in London, is a former captain in the Parachute Regiment.

He now works as an expedition leader and photojournalist.

"I've been travelling there [to Africa] for the past 10 to 15 years on and off," he said.

"So for me it's been a life-long passion and this is the culmination of that and an opportunity to explore Africa in all its glory."

White Nile

  • The Nile is 4,250 miles long (6,840km)
  • It has two sources, the Blue Nile and the longer White Nile, which has its source in either Rwanda or Burundi
  • The two rivers join together at Khartoum
  • Mr Wood will follow the White Nile through Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt
  • He may also travel through Burundi, depending on which side of the river he is forced to take
  • Other attempts have been made to trace the Nile, but never successfully entirely on foot

Mr Wood will be initially following the route of the longer White Nile, until it joins the Blue Nile at Khartoum in Sudan.

While the source of the White Nile is disputed, Mr Wood will start in Rwanda and travel through six countries and some of the most remote locations on earth.

The challenge has been described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as "one of the last world firsts, demonstrating a very British determination and fortitude that has marked many of the great expeditions in Africa".

Mr Wood said he had been inspired by some of the British explorers of the 19th Century, as well as Ed Stafford, who became the first man to walk the length of the Amazon in 2010.

'Greatest challenge'

If all goes to plan, Mr Wood expects to spend Christmas Day on the edge of a swamp on the Tanzania border.

He has to date travelled and worked in some 80 countries, led the first successful walk across Madagascar and climbed several peaks for the first time.

Nile delta The Nile ends in Egypt, where it enters the Mediterranean

His expeditions have often led him into some of the most dangerous parts of the world - even being held by local militia in Kurdistan, close to the border with Iran.

However, he said this would be by far his greatest challenge.

"This is two years in the planning now, so it's a lot of research, a lot of preparation.

"I've spent a lot of time going to the countries along the way to try and understand the culture, religion, tribal politics and some of the issues and dangers."

Mr Wood's parents equated the journey to climbing Everest.

The challenge will be filmed for a four-part documentary on Channel Four and he hopes to raise money for charity.

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