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Joanna Lumley's Nile

It is impossible not to be prejudice. My earliest memories of her were as Purdy.  Some hints of what she was like off-camera were kindly passed on by Rebecca Harris, who had already spent many weeks filming with her – intelligent and fun.
The ITV series ‘Joanna Lumley’s Nile’ has already started showing on Monday evenings at 9pm in the UK.   She eloquently describes her experiences floating on the back of the camel Charlie Brown, and watches fellow passengers wrap their husbands in toilet paper aboard one of the less garish Nile Cruise ships near Aswan.  Next week on ITV, she will enter the Ethiopia and then a week later (TV time) she became one of first guests at Wildwaters Lodge, our incredible new property mid-stream in the Nile.

As part of our her journey up the river, Joanna and her team climbed aboard one of our wooden work-boats for the short crossing to Muyanja Island, mid-stream in the Nile.  The island is now home to Wildwaters Lodge and she stayed in one of the private rooms that overlooks cobra rapid.

The more Joanna heard about the Ascend the Nile expedition, the more she became fascinated with the journey we had made in 2005/06 from the Mediterranean sea to what has become known as the ‘Mac source’ in the Nyungwe forest – 6718 kms from the sea.  We unrolled the maps as I explained the difference between the Victorian Source of the Nile (where the Nile leaves Lake Victoria) and the Kandt source in the Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda.   During the Victorian era, legendary explorers of the African continent – Speke, Livingstone, Burton, Stanley, Grant and Baker all searched the great lakes region of central Africa for the prized source of the Nile and Speke was widely credited with the discovery.  However, in 1898, a German doctor trekked deep into the Nyungwe forest in Rwanda claiming that the source of the Nile was not in fact the outlet of Lake Victoria, but the streams at the head of Akagera River which feed into the world’s second largest lake.  Since Kandt’s claim, the world has largely accepted that rivers entering the lake are in fact the longest source of the mighty river.  Kandt was very close but not entirely correct and in 2006, the Ascend the Nile expedition with Garth MacIntyre, Neil McGrigor and Cam McLeay brought the attention of the world what has become the ‘Mac source’ of the Nile and I promised to take Joanna there.

However, before that, Joanna wanted to ride in the zap cats, the racy little craft that had carried us over 98% of the length of the Nile.  She didn’t disguise her genuine surprise at the size of our boats.  I remembered having the same reaction when Neil first proposed them – far too small.  We bounced up Bubugo rapid, spray from the rapids cooling us refreshingly and the welcome breeze  from racing along at about 40 kms per hour in our faces.   Crowds of villagers waved at us from their washing from the banks of the river and we mocked a portage for camera.  Joanna wanted to give her audience some idea of the challenges a modern explorer faced.  We unbolted the heavy outboard motors, dragged the boat upstream over a few boulders and talked about one of the most amazing journeys I have made in my life.

Joanna shared my enthusiasm for maps, especially older ones, and we talked excitedly of adventures ahead.  Gav and the film crew shot the action from the Wild Nile Jet and were particularly attracted to action sequences racing up and down Bubugo rapid in the zap cat.  Look out for this footage on ITV and for our trip to the ‘Mac Source’ of the Nile in Rwanda.

Posted By: Adrift on Sun, 4th May 2014  -  View comments (0)  Add a comment

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