Ascend the Nile

"We’ve shared some of the best moments of our lives with the river, and some of the worst. The river has been our home for the last 82 days, just as the muddy trickle we’re contemplating is home and livelihood to millions of people between Rwanda and the Mediterranean, and as it has been the sustainer of countless generations stretching back to remote antiquity.

We’ve shared the passion of the early explorers — Burton, Speke, Grant, Livingstone, Stanley and the Bakers — and like them, we’ve endured desperate hardships, and passed through fire, water and fear to ‘settle the Source’. None of them can have felt more exhilarated upon glimpsing the object of their heart’s desire.

Neil straightens slowly and wearily and screws the cap on the bottle. He holds it up to the light. The water of the Source is clear with a fine suspension of particles in it.

Neil sighs, a profoundly satisfied sigh. He consults his GPS. 02°1 .931S, 029°19.8 5E.

That, as they say, settles that." Final diary entry from Ascend the Nile.


Authors: Garth MacIntyre, Neil McGrigor & Cam McLeay, RRP: $39.99 Released: 7 August, 2009 Imprint: Random House

When Kiwis Garth MacIntyre and Cam McLeay teamed up with Brit Neil McGrigor to embark on their life-changing adventure to ascend — from sea to source — the majestic, mysterious and dangerous Nile river, little did they know that it would end in tragedy and they would abandon the trip.

They share — with co-writer John McCrystal — the dramatic and terrifying events which lead to the disaster in their gripping new book, Ascend the Nile: A Kiwi-Brit journey of discovery, adventure & tragedy, in-store from 7 August.

The ripping yarn, taking the form of a diary, captures the romance and danger of all the greatest expeditions which have fired the imaginations of generations of would-be adventurers.

Packed with exquisite photographs of river bank scenes which have remained unchanged for millennia, the diary opens recalling the heady and anxious final moments before they set off.

Having dealt with last minute red-tape and farewelled loved ones amidst a media and diplomatic frenzy, Garth, Cam and Neil are finally motoring out into the calm and graceful Ascend the Nilelower reaches of the Nile and head south, to eventually finish up at its source, some 6700km to the Congo, the heart of Africa.

And, rest assured, like any ripping adventure there’s plenty of drama in between.

They are to endure fear and fire, air accidents and toxic mushrooms, guerrillas and bullets and their comradeship only strengthened. Their adventure story combines curiosity, geography and history with the dangers of a wild river, wildlife and disease.

Although such an intrepid and ambitious journey could present challenges given the Nile flows through some of the Africa’s politically unstable and lawless hotspots, the extraordinary ten-week adventure had pretty much played out as expected. The world’s longest river hadn’t disappointed serving up various mishaps along the way — many of which could have been deadly.

But, as they were close to realising their dream having travelled 5,000 kms through Egypt, the Sudan and into Uganda, Joseph Conrad territory, their biggest challenge yet lay just around the corner. The mighty Nile was about to claim another life.

While battling heavy rapids, they had wrecked both a motorised craft and a support aircraft in the Murchison Falls National Park just a few weeks from their final destination. Neil was struggling with a badly broken leg and burns.

It was when Cam’s expat friend, Steve Willis, who ran a local backpackers hostel in Kampala, came in his Land Rover to rescue them, that things then went terribly, terribly wrong.

They were ambushed by the RLA, a rebel group notorious for abducting and enslaving children. Tragically, Steve was shot and killed instantly.

Grieving and traumatised, the men abandoned the expedition and returned home to their families.

But, as Garth, Neil and Cam explain in the book, after much

soul-searching they decided that the entire adventure to this point, and the tragedy itself, would have been a waste were they not to finish the job.

So, six months later, with the support of their families, the three adventurers, still feeling both mentally and physically scarred, made an emotional return to realise their dream and complete the final section of the Nile which they were all well aware "is one of the wildest in the world in terms of water and wildlife, and consequently one of the least touched by man."

Ascend the Nile is their remarkable story and it’s a cracking Father’s Day read.



Ascend the Nile


So who are these guys you might ask?

Wellington-based, Garth MacIntyre has been feeding the troops for years. His successful company supplies the Military, Emergency Services and Civil Defence with pre-packaged, long-life food. Expat Kiwi, Cam McLeay, left his London corporate finance job to follow his dream and set up his own rafting business in Uganda where he and his wife, Kate, now live. Kenyan-born to British parents, Neil McGrigor, after having grown up in the wilds of Africa, moved to the UK where he trained as an engineer.



Ascend the Nile

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