First Descent of the Nile

First Descent of the Nile

by Jane Akshar

There are not many firsts left for the modern day explorer in this day and age, so it was with great excitement that Luxor witnessed a first on April 16th, 2004. This was an exploration team of modern day Indiana Jones' making the first descent of the Nile River from source to sea.

The team is headed by Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown and they have navigated the Nile from Ethiopia through Sudan and finally into Egypt. They have faced many dangers, including deadly crocodiles and hippos, class V to VI river rapids, aggressive local militiamen, bandits (shifta), temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, and the political upheaval of war zones run by rebel factions (Pasquale has also been very ill with malaria).

The team restocks for the next leg of the journey up to Abydos

The explorers of today have to face the additional problem of obtaining permission from the various governments to navigate these Nile waters. As travelers to Egypt will know, foreigners are not allowed on many stretches of the Nile. It is even more rare for them to be allowed to travel independently without government supervision. After crossing over the 22nd parallel, on the border of Egypt, they had an initial confrontation with the Egyptian military, but this was apparently soon cleared up. That the team has been allowed indicates the seriousness with which the Egyptian government has viewed this expedition and, of course, the tenacity of the team itself.

Gordon Brown, one of the team leaders

The object of the expedition has been twofold. Not only did they wish to make the actual descent but also film it. The Blue Nile Expedition is sponsored by California-based filmmakers MacGillivray Freeman Films and Orbita Max, a Spanish film production company, who are jointly producing a film for IMAX theaters based on the expedition and the Blue Nile region. The film, The Mystery of the Nile (working title), is slated for release in February 2005.

The team refuels for the next leg of the journey

In Luxor we were privileged to provide accommodation and to show members of the team around on a previous visit. Therefore, when they approached Luxor on the actual expedition they contacted us to assist with their overnight stop. The police who had accompanied them from the moment they set foot in Egypt were perturbed about them staying on the West Bank but actually it made more sense as they could moor next to their accommodation. The remainder of the day involved a busy round of obtaining supplies and readying man and craft for the next stage. My washing machine was going non-stop that night! Early the next morning we were able to see them off from Luxor on their next stage. They were expecting to reach Abydos that night.

It should take five to seven days for them to finally reach Cairo where they will be welcomed by the American Embassy at a reception. Afterward, they well begin their final leg to Alexandria through the Nile Delta.

The team departs Luxor

So far Pasquale and Gordon have covered 4250 kilometers and their aim is to continue covering 100 kilometers a day through Egypt in order to reach Alexandria on May 1st. This is later than their original target and reflects the delays they have encountered, primarily waiting for various permissions from the governments of the territories they passed through along the way. We wish you guys all the best, and luck through the remainder of your journey.

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