Ever wonder why this has never been done before...?
aggressive hippopotami, six metre long crocodiles, lethal scorpions and bands of
unfriendly locals pose only a few of the hazards that lie in wait along the Nile corridor.
These and other equally frightening spectres will confront the Colours of the Nile
expedition at every bend and turn.
In over 9,000 years of civilization along the banks of the River Nile no expedition has
ever been able to overcome the multitude of dangers and follow her entire path from the
source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana to Rosetta on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Many
have tried. All have failed.
"It proved to be a venture not to be lightly
undertaken, and I understood why the secrets of the Nile Valley remained so
long unrevealed" - Major Robert E. Cheesman, British Consul for
Northwest Ethiopia 1924-1934
Disease, sickness, fatigue and dehydration compound all of the animal hazards to make
this truly a perilous voyage of courage and discovery. Following are some of the hazards
that the team will have to confront.
Along the route, the expedition will be vulnerable to more than 10 varieties of venomous
snakes. Some of the most dreaded snakes on the globe measuring up to 3.7 metres (12 feet)
in length will be slithering threateningly near the river. Species such as the Black
Mamba, Saw-scaled Viper and the majestic Egyptian Cobra have been held accountible for
many deaths in the locality.
In great abundance along the path of the river, hippos have long been considered by many
experts, explorers and Africans as the most dangerous animal in Africa (with the exception
of the mosquito). Statistically hippos are responsible for killing more people than lions.
With their odious combination of extreme aggression, unpredictability and their
fearlessness with people, these creatures pose a formidable hazard. They are synonymous
with unprovoked offensives on boats and the chomping of the crew with their ratchet-like
teeth and incisors. Hippos can weigh up to 3200kg (7040lb) and although usually sluggish
on land, can reach speeds of up to 30km (18 miles) per hour (by comparison, Olympic
sprinters run around 40km/h).
Africas most common carnivore, hyena, hunt in both packs and alone. Sporting
exceedingly powerful jaws, this meat-eater can be very bold when hungry and has been known
to attack people as they sleep in their huts. When a hyena attacks a human, it usually
begins by mauling the face first.
Lions will seldom attack people unless they are provoked or starving. However, once a lion
has tasted carrion and has realised what easy prey humans can be, they can become
dependant on human flesh for survival. This king of the jungle can move extremely fast and
is generally bolder at night, known on occasion to invade unsuspecting camps.
The Nile crocodile is one of only two species in the world regularly known to attack
people and view them as prey. Just 30 years ago this species of reptile almost faced
extinction, now there is an estimated 250,000 - 500,000 of these predators lurking along
the river. They can grow up to 6 metres (20 feet) long and live in large
communities of several dozen crocodiles, uniting if necessary to take down a
much larger animal. Interestingly, on land the Nile Crocodile has been known to gallop at
speeds of about 50 kilometres (30 miles) an hour.
Many varieties of scorpions live in the deserts and scrublands of Northern Africa. The
sting from most scorpions is painful, yet not deadly. However, the venom from species such
as the Yellow Fattail Scorpion is strong enough to kill a full-grown man in less than two
hours if not treated with Antivenin.
The route is rife with a number of other dangerous animals such as baboons, leopards and
buffaloes, which can be both bold and aggressive towards humans.
With the level of the Blue Nile riding near its highest and fastest during the descent
from the Ethiopian Highlands, there will be a number of dangerous rapids, undercut rocks
and bad hydraulics to navigate. These obstacles will pose serious dangers making the
expedition anything but smooth sailing in the upper reaches of the river.
Stroke and Dehydration
The lack of potable water and excessive heat along the route poses serious dangers in
terms of extreme fluid loss and depleted electrolytes. Inability to properly contend with
these risks could lead to hyperthermia, the loss of the body's ability to cool
itself and subsequent overheating, or hyponatremia the loss of bodily salts. Either of
these conditions can be fatal if not treated appropriately. The early stages of these
conditions can cause minor distress such as cramps, headaches and vomiting with later more
serious symptoms presenting themselves as delirium, unconsciousness and sudden death.
and Other Tropical Diseases
Malaria, caused by a microscopic blood-borne parasite transmitted by the bite of an
infected mosquito, infects about 500 million people annually. Of those infected,
approximately 2 million people die of the disease every year, ranking malaria as one of
the leading causes of death in some parts of the world. The heat and moisture around the
River Nile creates the perfect habitat for mosquitoes to flourish. Other menacing diseases
rife in the area include leprosy, bilharziasis, fever and dysentery. More recently, the
West Nile virus, a blood-borne disease also carried by mosquitoes has spread throughout
all parts of Africa.
In addition to the abundance of natural and animal hazards, humans present
a considerable risk to the expedition. This is due to the mounting
distrust of westerners bought about by recent tension in the area.
A combination of extensive planning and preparations, local assistance and good fortune
will ensure that potential perils will be minimized. Despite countless hours of careful
planning and prevention it will be impossible to completely eliminate the multitude of
risks along the river. We can only hope that fortune does indeed favour the brave. Carpe