In November 2013, British explorer, journalist-photographer and expedition leader Levison Wood left London for Rwanda, East Africa. Nine months, 4,200 miles and seven million steps later, he reached the Mediterranean in Egypt, making history as the first man to walk the length of the river Nile. Wood came home with battered feet, great memories and photos and footage (much of it self-shot) for a book and aptly-titled documentary Walking the Nile, which premieres tonight on Animal Planet at 8/7c.
A former Captain with the British Parachute Regiment who fought Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Wood is no stranger to war zones, and his trek took him through several. But there were unforeseen dangers as well: Journalist Matt Power, who joined him three months in to walk through Uganda’s remote Ajai Game Reserve, collapsed in the 115-degree heat, and with the nearest help two hours away, died of heat stroke. Wood considered quitting but ultimately decided to press on in Power’s honor. “It reminded me just how dangerous this journey is,” he says, and that’s not all he discovered on his epic walk.
For those who’d dare to follow in his footsteps—literally or figuratively—he shared a few lessons from his epic adventure.
In Sudan, I was sweating and took my shirt off to dry it in the sun. I put it back on and right there on the collar was an enormous scorpion. There were snakes as well. When you sleep on the ground in the desert, you’ve got to be careful.