One of the more interesting and ambitious expeditions that has been underway over the past few months is Levison Wood’s attempt to walk the entire 4250 mile (6839 km) length of the Nile, the longest river in the world. The journey began last fall in the highlands of Rwanda, at the Nile’s furthest source, and is expected to continue until Lev reaches the river’s mouth on the Mediterranean Sea. But, there are reports that his trek has been disrupted in South Sudan, and that the explorer has had to bypass a section of the hike due to the ongoing civil war that is taking place in that country.
I received a tip a few days ago that Lev saw his journey interrupted several weeks back while passing through South Sudan, and that he actually had to leave the country, flying to Nairobi briefly, before heading to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From there, he proceeded back south to the river, resuming the journey, but missing a section of the Nile of indeterminate size. With this news, I reached out to Lev for confirmation, and he sent me an email confirming the disruption. He indicated that he was unable to walk from Bor to Malakal in South Sudan due to the fighting taking place there. He said that the South Sudanese government ordered him out for his own safety, after the UN mission in the region was overrun. He indicated that he hopes to return to complete the section he missed once calm has returned to the area, but that he was already back on the trail and heading north.
Considering how volatile South Sudan has been over the past few months, this news shouldn’t come as a surprise. When Lev launched his expedition, the civil war hadn’t started yet, but the ongoing unrest there has continued long enough to cause issues for travelers visiting the nation, which is the newest country in the world.
The odd thing is that in this day and age of instant access to social media from just about any place on the planet, that there hasn’t been any indication of this on disruption on either the expedition’s website, or Facebook and Twitter feeds. In fact, the “latest position” page hasn’t been updated since March 19, and still has Lev listed as being in Nimule, in South Sudan. The expedition page is part of the U.K.’s Channel 4 website, which has been documenting Lev’s travels. It seems unusual that they haven’t updated his position, nor announced the change in plan for his route. In his note to me, Lev indicated that Channel 4 was running behind in their updates, and that news would hit the site soon.
I have asked him for more information about where exactly he had to stop his walk through South Sudan, and where exactly he resumed again as well. That will help determine just how much of the Nile he was forced to bypass along the way. I’ll post an update as soon as we know more information.
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