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Walking the Nile with Captain Levison Wood - Various Ships along the Nile

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: June 27, 2014

  • Lev and Moez in Sudan.

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Following the recent traumatic events endured by Captain Levison Wood, aged 32, of Cheadle Road, Forsbrook, that forced him to abandon part of his walk along the river Nile in South Sudan, he overcame his great disappointment by continuing his journey northwards to become the first ever recorded person to walk the entire 4,250 mile length of the river from source to sea.

Although many would have abandoned the challenge at the point where he stared death in the face, instead he took stock of what he had already achieved and made his stoic decision to carry on.

Arriving at a point just beyond the fighting that is still continuing throughout the country Captain Wood recommenced his walk on the border with its northern neighbour Sudan.

The following story is taken from Levison's own journal detailing his latest adventures.

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Day 143-147 - "The difference between South Sudan and its northern neighbour - and former master - the Sudan couldn't be more striking.

"While South Sudan is green, lush, wet and not too dissimilar to northern Uganda, there is in Sudan a stark transition to the seemingly lifeless terrain of the desert.

"Here the panorama is brown and sand creeps into everything.

"Christianity and traditional African beliefs are the most common religion in South Sudan, whereas by entering the Sudan, I have now entered the religious realm of Islam.

"The daily call to prayer sounds out five times a day, minarets protrude from the skyline and, most of the men I have seen are wearing dazzling white jallabiyas, whilst the women wear colourful hijabs.

"After the violence and instability of the South, entering Sudan has been a welcome change and relief.

"No fighting here - only overwhelming hospitality and friendliness.

"Getting over the disappointment of the last few weeks has been somewhat tempered by the sudden change in atmosphere.

"Everywhere I go I'm offered tea and food and have been welcomed freely into houses.

"It has brought a new dimension to the expedition and I'm looking forward to reaching Khartoum and crossing the Sahara.

"I am joined on my journey by my new translator and local guide Moez.

"Our first day together begins in a small village called Kosti when at 7am we begin our walk to avoid the ferocious midday heat.

"However it's unavoidable - by 9am it's over 40 degrees and the going is tough.

"We've bought bicycles to push so we can carry enough water.

"I'd like to say I was tempted to ride it but the thing is a cheap Chinese knock off and the pedals and seat keep falling off.

"They are proving to be more trouble than they are worth.

"My new travelling companion is an ardent photographer and stops to take more pictures than I do, yet we are getting along extremely well.

"Sadly like my former colleague Boston, Moez is suffering from the effects of walking in the sand and has some amazing blisters on his feet so we will need to consider limiting the miles we do each day, at least to begin with.

"My own two feet resemble hard leather strips after covering almost 1800 miles so I have no problems at the minute.

"The landscape has changed from scrubland to a flat horizon of khaki coloured sand, devoid of plant life.

"Wooden huts that intermittently line the rough road that runs alongside the river have been replaced with Adobe mud compounds.

"The people are amazing with Sudanese hospitality living up to expectations.

"Everywhere I go I am warmly welcomed and invited into homes for refreshing mint tea and food." Days 148-150 - "The bikes lasted all of 2 days. We got so fed up pushing them through sand and having bits fall off I've traded them in for 2 donkeys which seems a far preferable option.

"We have given them two Arabic names as it seemed appropriate, Kej and Azamak.

"They carry our supplies and water grudgingly it would appear and no matter how we coax them along they seem to have minds of their own.

"With Moez' blisters still causing him problems our progress along the eastern side of the Nile is agonisingly slow, particularly as our two new four legged companions seem very unwilling to move when the sun blazes down from above.

"Everything is dry, dusty and hot and so we are forced to take a long break during the early afternoon until the donkeys are of a mind to walk again.

"I just wonder who is in charge now.

"In a magical episode, as we were walking through the village of Um Ganaim I met an old hajji who said his grandfather was given the actual spear that killed General Gordon.

"He said that it was his grandfather's cousin who made the fatal thrust before the British Victorian hero was decapitated in Khartoum.

"The old man, named Mohammed Ismail Abu Garja then proceeded to fetch the spear.

"It's too far-fetched to be false and just the kind of serendipity that the Nile can produce in the places you'd least expect it.

"After seven days of walking we have finally arrived in Ad Douiem where there is an impressive bridge that spans the mile wide Nile at this point.

"Having been extremely gentle with Kej and Azamak over the last two days, they have repaid our misplaced kindness by doing a runner when we were just about to start the next leg of our journey.

"Given that normally they could hardly muster a slow walk when asked, yet suddenly and without warning they turned into Derby contenders as they bolted in the totally wrong direction.

"Reminiscent of a scene from a silent Laurel and Hardy movie we chased these laughing beasts for nearly a mile before catching up with them.

"I decided then that they were as useless as the bicycles and they had to go."

"So at the end of the day we arrived at our next stop which was a garage forecourt.

"Hardly four star luxury but we hired a sprung bedstead each and put our feet up to negotiate our next mode of transport.

"Seeing that Moez was beginning to really struggle with the walk I purchased in part exchange one larger donkey with a cart and said goodbye to Kej and Azamak.

"Now that Moez had something to ride on I could make better progress, yet this latest buy proved even costlier when I learned I would have to pay a 'donkey tax' to cross a bridge - a toll charge I suspect was a piece of personal initiative on the part of a local official, but that's Africa for you." Readers can follow Captain Wood's expedition with Moez and others as they travel towards Khartoum on Walking the Nile @Channel 4 and also on Facebook/Twitter.

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