Updated: Oct 31, 2021
PS We’ve had time to recover from our 7,000 plus miles of virtual walking but we have unfinished business before finally hanging up our boots (for this year?) With 8,000 miles remaining and the source of the River Nile still ahead of us, let’s venture forth to finish what we started.
We reach Jinja where we find the “source of the Nile” discovered by John Speke. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hanning_Speke If you are brave, the Bujagali Falls await for an adventure down the Grade 5 rapids! After this experience, you will sleep well from exhaustion but be woken early by the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer at 5 am.
On to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a distance of about 500 miles.
“Kilimanjaro is not only Africa’s tallest peak, but also the world’s tallest free standing mountain. The summit, named Uhuru Point, is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level.”
With the walk to the summit and down again accomplished, we continue to Rwanda to the Volcanoes National Park in northwest Rwanda where we are booked in for a Gorilla Tracking experience. “The mountain gorilla (Gorilla Berengie), the world’s most endangered ape, is found only in small portions of protected afro Montane forests in northwest Rwanda, southwest Uganda, and eastern DRC. The mountain gorilla is one of many species unique to these forests.”
There is one more climb ahead as we approach the Rwenzori Mountains between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Also over 5,000 meters high and continuously capped by snow, it is possible to ski here with December being the snowiest month. We skip the ski-ing and make our descent to continue our journey west to find the source of the River Congo in northeast DRC. So much I could write about but I suggest the two books, “Blood River” by Tim Butcher and “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad both of which who can illustrate the journey better than I can.
https://www.britannica.com/place/Congo-River We reach Matadi, a port city where Sir Henry Morton Stanley opened a trading centre in 1879. Boma, the capital of the Congo until, in 1923, it was moved to Léopoldville, is now known as Kinshasa.
This now makes a total of at least 10,000 miles walked and some of us have begged for a well-earned respite. Following a majority vote, we have decided to make the remaining section home by boat which is a geography lesson in itself with so many western African countries to pass by and the Canary Islands to while away a few nights and relish the Atlantic sunsets whilst sipping the odd sundowner.
A warm welcome awaits us in Darlington so, having disembarked on the northeast coast of England, we don our boots for the last time and trudge along the Teesdale Way. We have that wonderful smell of Africa in our clothes and our very being and, even when those are washed away, our memories remain and we can recall the big white smiles of those Kumi children who can now lead their normal lives and, who knows, one of them may one day reach our shores to say thank you.