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The first complete ascent of the world’s longest river, the Nile

September 2005

A team of five men and one woman set off from Alexandria, Egypt to attempt the first complete ascent of the world’s longest river, the Nile.

Following in the spirit of the great explorers of Africa – Burton, Speke, Livingstone and Stanley, the team will seek to track and explore the entire course of this famous River. This has never been attempted or achieved in one single expedition.

The Nile is some 4132 miles (6650km) long. It receives its name from the Greek “Neilos” meaning a valley or river.

Travelling from the Nile Delta at the Mediterranean Sea the team will make its way to Lake Victoria from which only the Nile flows, and then on to its source.

Even today it is not clear in which country the source of the Nile actually lies. It is now accepted that the Nile has two main drainage systems:

  • to the Northwest ­ the western rift valley and the Ruwenzoris
  • to the South and East ­ a huge area encompassing much of Burundi, Rwanda, northern Tanzania, western Kenya and Uganda. All these rivers drain in to Lake Victoria and only the Victoria Nile flows out of it.

It is also accepted that the Kagera is the largest feeder river to Lake Victoria. This river flows through both Rwanda and Burundi.

This expedition followed that River to its source.

Ascend the Nile

May 1, 2010

A delightful, cooling breeze in my face, frequent splashes from the River Nile and racing past thousands of years of history.  At the helm of the little Zap cats, powered by the singing outboard motor, we were racing up the Nile from it’s mouth in the Mediterranean Sea to it’s longest source.   From the mighty […]

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Sourcing the Nile

May 2, 2010

‘Mzee says that you are wrong; he says that the source of the Nile is not this way’ translated a ranger with the men accompanying us deep into Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park.  He was repeating a claim Mzee had made no less than half a dozen times that day.  Mzee is a Twa (forest dweller) […]

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Day 71: Running out of river

May 2, 2010

From Cam McLeay’s diary on the Ascend the Nile Expedition 75kms traveled Within minutes of seeing us he has leapt chest deep in the river and was wading mid-stream by the time we came level to him.  This excited local was holding his shirt high above the water level with one arm and waving frantically […]

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Day 64: Eyes, Kagitumba, Rwanda

May 2, 2010

From Cam McLeay’s diary on the Ascend the Nile Expedition S 01º05.48’ E30º27.10’ 35 kms traveled, 1276m The hippos had become less vocal and moved away, despite an orchestra of objections earlier in the evening at the crowd we had attracted.  On arrival in Rwanda, we were surrounded by hundreds of brown eyes and smiles, […]

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