Walking the Nile
by Levison Wood

Overview - The Nile, one of the world's great rivers, has long been an object of fascination and obsession. From Alexander the Great and Nero, to Victorian adventurers David Livingstone, John Hanning Speke, and Henry Morton Stanley, the river has seduced men and led them into wild adventures.  Read more...

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More About Walking the Nile by Levison Wood
The Nile, one of the world's great rivers, has long been an object of fascination and obsession. From Alexander the Great and Nero, to Victorian adventurers David Livingstone, John Hanning Speke, and Henry Morton Stanley, the river has seduced men and led them into wild adventures. English writer, photographer, and explorer Levison Wood is just the latest. His Walking the Nile is a captivating account of a remarkable and unparalleled Nile journey.

Starting in November 2013 in a forest in Rwanda, where a modest spring spouts a trickle of clear, cold water, Wood set forth on foot, aiming to become the first person to walk the entire length of the fabled river. He followed the Nile for nine months, over 4,000 miles, through six nations--Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, and Egypt--to the Mediterranean coast.

Like his predecessors, Wood camped in the wild, foraged for food, and trudged through rainforest, swamp, savannah, and desert, enduring life-threatening conditions at every turn. He traversed sandstorms, flash floods, minefields, and more, becoming a local celebrity in Uganda, where a popular rap song was written about him, and a potential enemy of the state in South Sudan, where he found himself caught in a civil war and detained by the secret police. As well as recounting his triumphs, like escaping a charging hippo and staving off wild crocodiles, Wood's gripping account recalls the loss of Matthew Power, a journalist who died suddenly from heat exhaustion during their trek. As Wood walks on, often joined by local guides who help him to navigate foreign languages and customs, Walking the Nile maps out African history and contemporary life.

An inimitable tale of survival, resilience, and sheer willpower, Walking the Nile is an inspiring chronicle of an epic journey down the lifeline of civilization in northern Africa.

  • ISBN-13: 9780802124494
  • ISBN-10: 0802124496
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publish Date: February 2016
  • Page Count: 352
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Travel > Essays & Travelogues
Books > Travel > Africa - General
Books > Travel > Special Interest - Adventure

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-12-14
  • Reviewer: Staff

Wood, a British veteran who served in Afghanistan, recounts his ambitious attempt, beginning in November 2013, to walk the entire length of the Nile River: 4,250 miles of water running through five countries. The impetus for the journey was a desire to emulate Western explorers of Africa such as Richard Burton, Henry Stanley, David Livingstone, and John Hanning Speke, whose adventures Wood admired. Wood also sought to meet people and hear their stories. Beginning in Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda, Wood travels through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt before reaching the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean, following the river through forests, villages, cities, deserts, andin South Sudanactive war zones and refugee settlements. The narration is unadorned and mostly relays the viewpoints of local guides and porters, who accompany the author through the majority of his trip, and others he meets en route. Wood does provide some history and contextual asides, but he devotes most of his book to sharing the opinions of the people he encounters, which are dynamic and at times surprising. A man in Sudan, for example, laments the end of British rule because of the prosperity that ended with it. These voices, seen through the lens of Woods words, make this memoir a success. (Feb.)

BookPage Reviews

Into the great unknown

Whether you’re content with armchair travel or prefer a rugged real-life expedition of your own, these accounts of epic journeys by intrepid travelers will give you plenty of room to roam.

If you’re the type who takes a large, packed-to-the-brim suitcase on every trip, you’ll be amazed and enlightened by Clara Bensen’s account of traveling with, literally, No Baggage. Bensen considers herself a quiet introvert, so it’s a surprise when she clicks with her polar opposite, Jeff, a free spirit she meets through an online dating site. Soon after, Jeff invites her on a three-week trip to Europe, with one caveat: She must adopt his unorthodox travel style, which means no hotels, no itineraries and no luggage. Taking flight for Istanbul with only the clothes on her back (and a change of underwear in her purse), Bensen cautiously adjusts to the freedom of wandering unencumbered. “It’s a rare thing to be lost, isn’t it?” she asks Jeff, jolted by the transition from a world in which we always know exactly where we stand. Bensen’s honest and engaging narrative offers fresh insights about why we travel and what we gain when we step outside our comfort zones.

A British veteran who served in Afghanistan, Levison Wood was inspired by 19th-century explorers who sought to locate the source of the fabled Nile River. In 2013, he set out to recreate their journey in reverse, a 4,000-mile trek chronicled in Walking the Nile. This gripping travelogue is no “walk in the woods,” however, and you won’t find amusing Bill Bryson-style asides about bad weather and annoying companions. Starting at a tiny spring in Rwanda and walking through six countries, Wood encounters armed gangs, civil war, secret police and even endures the death (from heat stroke) of a journalist who joined him. Informative and immediate, Walking the Nile is an unvarnished portrait of modern Africa.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (as Cheryl Strayed does in Wild), was only a warmup for Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis, who had bigger challenges in mind. Starting in 2010, she traveled 10,000 miles alone, on foot, through Mongolia, including the Gobi Desert (which took three tries), China, Siberia, Laos, Thailand and finally (after hitching a ride on a cargo ship) across the Australian continent—twice. In Wild by Nature, a National Geographic Explorer of the Year in 2014 recounts her journey with the clear-eyed resolve and keen observational skills that make her a successful solo trekker. An abscessed tooth in the wilds of Mongolia? Marquis follows a preset evacuation plan and heads to Tokyo for treatment, resuming her walk a few weeks later. Throughout her adventure, she relishes the freedom of being a woman alone in the wild.


This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews