LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

Walking the Nile

by Levison Wood.

We all know the longest river in the world is the Nile (or is it the Amazon?), but we don’t actually know how long that is. From it’s (disputed) source in Rwanda, to Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, the Nile stretches nearly 7,000km through jungle, desert, and everything in between, including the war-torn South Sudan. Wood sets out to walk every mile, needing to overcome myriad challenges – both physical and psychological – if he’s to realise his dream.

As we walk with him, we learn not only about the countries he passes through, but their history and their people both past and present. We also get to know (amongst many other things) about crocodiles, scorpions, the effects of extreme thirst, and how to choose a good camel. Every page is compelling reading.

Wood obviously felt responsible for people caught up in his quest, and from time to time he mentions this sense of duty and leadership, as well as a number of lion-hearted deeds, and once or twice this grated. That said, it’s all too easy to judge people’s actions from the comfort your armchair; I know I couldn’t touch his achievements, and his sense of achievement is tangible.

It’s not uncommon for me to flick ahead to see how many pages of a book I have left, but I didn’t do that once with this book. I was carried along with the journey and its story and, while I willed him to win out, I didn’t want it to end.

4.5 stars. One of the best travelogues I’ve ever read.


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