April 1, 2006

Team says it finds new source of Nile in Rwanda

By Arthur Asiimwe

NYUNGWE FOREST, Rwanda (Reuters) - Surviving a rebel attack
and braving crocodile-infested waters, a group of explorers has
completed an 80-day voyage down the world's longest river
reaching what they say is the source of the Nile.

The three explorers from Britain and New Zealand claim to
be the first to have traveled the river from its mouth to its
"true source" deep in Rwanda's lush Nyungwe rainforest.

"History has been rewritten," British explorer Neil
McGrigor told reporters on Friday. "This is the end of an 80
day amazing and exhausting journey."

The expedition, dubbed "Ascend the Nile," traveled over
6,700 km (4,163 miles) in three boats, tracing the Nile from
the Mediterranean through five countries to what they say is
its origin.

McGrigor and New Zealanders Cam McLeay and Garth MacIntyre
suffered a rebel attack in northern Uganda, which killed one of
their team, and overcame a cocktail of testing climates,
massive rapids and crocodile charges before reaching their
final destination.

The last leg of their journey saw them abandon their tiny
boats and trek some 70 km (43 miles) for seven days through
thick forest, sometimes being forced to wade in the
fast-running Nile waters.

"We have followed the Akagera river system to its longest
point up in the Nyungwe forest and it's this point that we now
finally know as being the longest source of the river Nile,"
McGrigor told Reuters.

The team, which used a Global Positioning System (GPS),
believes the Nile is at least 107 km (66 miles) longer than
previously thought.

Debate over the real source of the Nile has raged since the
late 1850s, when British explorers like John Hanning Speke
began staking their reputations, fortunes and health on finding

It was not until the 1864 expedition by American journalist
Henry Stanley -- when he found missing British David
Livingstone in 1871 and circumnavigated Lake Victoria and Lake
Tanganyika for the first time -- that much of the area was
mapped and many questions answered.