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The River Nile is principally sourced by two great rivers; the Blue Nile and the White Nile. Although the Blue Nile flows fewer miles than her milky-coloured twin, she carries 80% of the water and silt that give life to Egypt’s dry dunes many meanders later.

The 4,900 kilometre (3,060 mile) journey from the source of the Blue Nile to the Mediterranean Sea is one of remarkable colour and contrast. From the lush green mountainous region of Northern Ethiopia, the river will carry the expedition by way of the dry grasslands of Sudan before curving lazily through the Egyptian desert, past its fertile Nile Delta and on to the sea.

Ethiopia, where the adventure begins, is an entirely landlocked nation. It has a rich and colourful history dating back more than 3,000 years. With legends of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the Ark of the Covenant and the Axumite Kingdom, its history is a woven tapestry of mystery and intrigue.

Ethiopia today is a melting pot of diverse cultures practicing different religions and customs. Curiously it remains the only country in Africa never to have been colonized by a European nation.

The expedition will begin at Little Abbai - the mountain stream that is the humble sacred source of the mighty Blue Nile. The flow soon joins the Blue Nile's hydrological source, Lake Tana, where the vessel will weave its way amongst the scattering of islands, many containing 15th Century Monasteries decorated with dazzling religious murals. Leaving Lake Tana behind, the team will trace the path of the river through the scenic Ethiopian highlands.

Once past the cascading spectacle of the Blue Nile Falls or Tis Isat, meaning "Smoke of Fire", rafts will carry the team amidst the roaring rapids through the breathtaking Blue Nile Gorge. The Gorge’s mile-high basalt walls, dubbed the ‘Grand Canyon of Africa’ are blessed with an abundance of wildlife including monkeys, mountain cats and a varied assortment of bird life. A myriad of tribes such as the Gumuz, Mande, Berta, Borano and Welo people make the Gorge their home, many of whom have never before witnessed a westerner.

The sweeping flow continues through the foothills of the Gojam Mountains dotted with small villages of cone-shaped huts. Cut off from modern communications, life in these villages has remained unchanged for millennia, with women still fetching water in gouras (empty rinds of giant fruit) and men still hunting leopards with spears.

The river’s path then continues on to Sudan whose people have lived along the Nile for more than 9,000 years, initially settling in fortified mudbrick villages along her shores. The country today is made up of more than 600 ethnic groups speaking more than 400 languages and dialects. Sudan is the largest country in Africa and is dominated by the Nile and her many tributaries.

In Sudan, when the waters have tempered, kayaks will carry the crew past the region of Dinder National Park, amongst the largest of national parks in Africa and host to an exceptional diversity of wildlife including antelope, lion, ostrich, wart hog and numerous bird species. Elephants and giraffes have also been known to roam the grassland reserve.

The flow of the Blue Nile is finally halted at the Roseires Dam, the first of many obstacles on her course to the sea. Further downstream, where the Blue Nile and White Nile rendezvous to become one great river, is Khartoum, Sudan’s bustling capital. This was the furthest reach upstream that ancient Egyptian travellers dared to journey in their search for the source of the Nile.

The voyage will continue beyond Khartoum, negotiating six cataracts and two deep bends as the River Nile weaves her way through the narrow strip of fertile land wedged between the Libyan and Nubian deserts. The region is home to some of the most significant and largely undiscovered ancient temples of the Pharaohs, sights that will prime the crew for the multitude of archaeological sites to come.

The man-made wonder of Lake Nasser and the Aswan Dam will signal the party's arrival in Egypt.

Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian described Egypt as ‘the gift of the Nile’ a fitting description that captures her serenity and magic. Since the beginning of history she was the lifeblood of Egypt’s political, religious, economic and social life, a legacy that continues to this very day. Almost no rain falls on Egypt and the country is entirely dependent on the Nile for water, with nearly 90% of the population living along her nourishing banks.

Continuing the last leg of the journey in kayaks, the team will relish the multitude of awe-inspiring monuments left by the pharaohs, and the landmarks from the Greeks, Romans, early Christians and Muslims - all testaments to the extraordinary history of Egypt and the River Nile. Working the land beside the river, farmers still use the same archaic tools and techniques of their ancestors. In the cities, mud brick villages sit amongst Pharaoh ruins that lie between towering glass buildings.

After passing through the chaotic centre of Cairo, where the river fans out into the Nile Delta, one of the most cultivated regions in the world, the expedition will follow the western-most branch of the delta to Rosetta, the source of the world famous Rosetta Stone, now a quiet fishing village sitting on the edge of the Meditteranean Sea. The end of the Nile’s journey to the sea marks the end of a great palate of colours and the end of our voyage. The salt air will signal our success as the first unbroken paddle from the source of the Blue Nile to the sea.

From Blue River to White River and on to the dark tints of the Sea the changing faces of the water will mark our journey along the Colours of the Nile.

The path of the perilous journey of courage and discovery


 

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