Team are in Rwanda!

The team have made it to Rwanda! After several days of portering around the rapids they are now looking forward to rapid progress on the Kagara river system.

Awaiting them in Kigali is another Fortnum & Mason Chop Box, full of goodies. The team can’t wait!

17 March 06

Team edge nearer to the final Country of their amazing journey!

Neil McGrigor, Cam McLeay and Garth MacIntyre all endured a day of hard physical activity yesterday.

They had arrived at what was marked as a set of rapids and one “cascade” in Tanzania. Their original hopes of rushing headlong up the rapids in the Zap Cats were quickly dashed and it was back to the labourious task of portering the Zap Cats around at least 3 of the obstacles.

At 4.2m long and 2.1m wide Zap Cats are very nippy on the water and not too bad to move up the beach but imagine lugging three of them, complete with engines and all the team’s gear around a rapid – not one of most enjoyable Expedition days.

Still the team are moving closer and closer to their goal, the longest source of the Nile in Rwanda.

News from Rwanda is that everyone is keenly awaiting their arrival in Kigali and even more keenly waiting to hear about the new longest source of the Nile.

In his latest contact Neil said “Had v hard day portering around 3 sets of falls. Hope to make Rwanda soon”

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15 March 06

The team has made it across Lake Victoria!

The team is in excellent spirits having made it across Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. The crossing was always an unknown being the longest open water passage they would have attempted in the small 4 metre Zap Cats. The first part was relatively easy but things got very tough when they encountered an early morning storm and had to run before it for cover.

Neil McGrigor’s diary records “There was no turning back. I wore my head torch back to front so the others could see me and lead the way. I could see Cam and Garth’s boats silhouetted in the chasing lightening. A forceful reminder that there was no turning back. Two hours of heavy pounding and we had made it. For the first time on the expedition we all complained in unison about the battering we had taken. We were cold and wet but very, very glad to have made it”.

The team is now moving swiftly up the Kagera River system in Tanzania. The challenge for today is a series of ten rapids. Although they are marked on the map the team has no idea how big the rapids are!

Success! The Heli-Hop works

View from a Zap Cat

Neil and Garth make it to the top This takes concentration!

13 March 2006

Nile Team conquer rapids in Uganda

– with the help of an extraordinary Heli-Hop!

The Ascend the Nile Expedition team have become the first men ever to ascend the ferocious rapids of the River Nile in Uganda

The team are aiming to complete the first complete Ascent of the Nile in small inflatable craft known as Zap Cats. Using these incredibly manoeuvrable boats they ascended some of Uganda’s rapids using just their own skills and plenty of courage! But some of the larger rapids were more like waterfalls and proved impassable using Zap Cats alone. So, they turned to Helicopter power

The idea had occurred to co-team leader Neil McGrigor when the team were emergency airlifted after being attacked by rebels in their first attempt at the Expedition in November 2005. Back in his garden in Hampshire, UK Neil devised a four point lifting system which could be attached to the Zap Cats allowing a helicopter to come from behind, pick up the craft with the team and equipment on board and “heli-hop” them over the rapid.

Amazingly the system worked, although not without an initial capsize which dumped Neil McGrigor and Garth MacIntyre in the water. This was the second capsize for the two in recent days. The first left Garth limping and Neil with grazes. This time neither suffered any injuries and both were able to continue. All of the rapids have now been successfully conquered

The team now face the next incredible challenge – a journey across Lake Victoria towards Rwanda and the final part of their quest for the longest source of the longest river in the world! Click here for more