image Book Review #5: Walking the Nile


Author: Levison Wood

Genre: Non-fiction, Travel

Language: English

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

Date of publication: January 5, 2016

No. Of pages: 368


Nile has captured the imagination of many adventurers – from Alexander the Great and Nero to Victorian explorers David Livihgstone, John Hanninng Speke and Henry Morton Stanley. The same can be said for English writer, photographer and explorer Levison Wood. Walking the Nile is literally his hard-earned reward.


I have often been asked: “Why the itchy feet?” “Why do you always want to go somewhere, when you just got back?” There has never been one perfect answer that could explain my feeling and love for seeing something new. Levison Wood was able to explain that same feeling in such a simple way, something which can be related by any travel enthusiast.

Before I set out on this expedition I had been asked, more times than I care to remember, about the idea of exploration. The question of what it means in the modern world isn’t so easy to answer. To some, the very idea seems archaic – and, in a world of Google Maps, where every valley and hillside has already been plotted, the traditional age of exploration is gone. But exploration has always been about more than pure discovery, or of being the first to do something.

One of the most intriguing travelogue that I had the good fortune to read in recent times, Walking the mile is a detailed and captivating account of one of the most fascinating adventure in the history of travel. This is one of the those book that truly epitomises the saying: “what you see is, what you get.”Starting in November 2013 in a forest in Rawanda, at a site of modest spring sprouting a trickle of water, each step set out to declare Wood as the first person to walk the entire length of this fabled largest river of the world.

And, as in my expeditions in the past, I wanted to learn more about the people who lived along this mighty river, people whose lives are dictated by its ebb and flow. In a continent in which borders are always in flux, the Nile is a constant. I wanted to see how it shaped lives from the ground, day by day and mile by mile.

The quote perfectly captures the essence of the book and what and why the author set out for such a daring expedition. The entire journey is spread over a period of 9 months, and the book accurately captures the foils, toils and success earned during the 4000 miles of the river spread across 6 nations – Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, and Egypt. Each page reflects a detailed account of the experience from his point of view and theough the eyes of the people who accompanied him, the type of people he encountered during the course of his expedition and the exact feeling that was felt by him at that point of time. What I loved the most is the beautiful way in which the author connected his personal experience and thoughts with the history of the various countries he walked through, and the history of the great river itself. This intricate connectivity helped in making the book more personal and helps the reader in approaching with ease and comfort.

The narrative style in first person, for a change, made it more impactful. The chronicle of journey was so beautifully written with the right usage of words and imageries, that as a reader I was transported to that moment of time, experiencing the same thinngs as the author. And that itself, is the beauty of the book which will endear to one and all.

My opinion: 

This is one book that I will recommend to one and all, irrespective of the genre. I truly loved every single page of this book. The pictures have been provided in the middle of the book which helps in making the whole journey more real for the readers.

My rating: 5 out of 5

Favorite quote: 

“When George Mallory was asked by a reporter from the New York Times why he wanted to clim Mt. Everest, he retorted with perhaps the three most famous words in mountaineeringn history: ‘Because it’s there.'”

“…those who have to ask ‘why’ would never understand.”

“I knew for certain then that this was going to be a journey through the past as well as the future.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what destroys indigenous cultures – war and division and starvatiin. On my life, it’s these ridiculous languages, ones only a few hundred or thousand people even understand, that cause all of this. How can a country work when people can’t even talk to each other?”



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