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Adrift led the notorious Top Gear team in search of the Source of the Nile last October. Adrift CEO Cam McLeay is recognized as one of the leading experts on the navigation of the Nile. Despite thousands of years of human exploration of the Nile, there is still some debate about the location of the source of the world’s longest river. Jeremy Clarkson was enthused to put his own spin on one of exploration’s greatest prizes, and to share the prize with his car.
No other river on the planet has played such a significant role in human history. Thousands of years ago, great Egyptian armies marched up the Nile in search of the source of Egypt’s wealth ‘…for without the Nile, Egypt was nothing..’. Thwarted by the Sudd (over a thousand kilometres of papyrus swamp) in South Sudan the armies could not continue upstream. Livingstone, Stanley, Baker, Burton, and Grant, were among the famous names , who took up the challenge of ‘discovering’ the source of the Nile in Victorian times. In 1872 John Hanning Speke stood on the banks of the Nile near Jinja, and proclaimed ‘…the Nile is settled..’ but in 1898, Dr. Kandt identified a remote source of the Akagera River (Lake Victoria’s longest tributary) which became widely regarded as the longest source of the world’s most famous river.
It wasn’t until 1996, that the wildest section of the Nile (in the heart of Murchison Falls National Park) was finally navigated by the Adrift team. The Telegraph, instrumental in the coverage of the Victorian explorers, featured this first descent of the staircase of the Nile, and later followed the remarkable Ascend the Nile expedition of 2005/6 co-led by Adrift CEO Cam McLeay. The Ascend the Nile expedition navigated over 98% of the Nile’s 6718km length by boat from the Mediterranean Sea to Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda, completing the planet’s longest river journey and mapping the river from water for the first time. This expedition featured in ‘Joanna Lumley’s Nile’.
When presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May started their homework on the source of the Nile, they were soon in touch with Adrift – who better to lead them to the source of the Nile? Cam led, yet another expedition to the Nile from the front, albeit this time in ageing estate cars (still younger than any of the presenters) imported from the UK especially for the purpose. BBC 2 will feature the first of a two-part special at 8pm Sunday 03rd March in the UK. Guaranteed to put a new spin on Nile exploration, the cars battle their way through some of Africa’s most spectacular scenery. So compelling was the footage of this expedition that the ‘Top Gear Special’ will now air in two parts (twice the length of intended coverage). Watch this space for more on how the expedition evolved.