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April 13, 2014

Crocodile close calls: UK man walks length of Nile

He's faced civil war, crocodiles and death of a fellow traveler

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Close calls with crocodiles, a brutal civil war and even the death of a fellow traveler have not deterred a British man from attempting to walk the length of the Nile River.

The yearlong 4,250 mile journey along the world's longest river will see the former British army captain pass through seven countries.

After four months trekking through Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, Levison Wood is now in South Sudan, a country with little infrastructure that has been destabilized by four months of fighting between pro- and anti-government forces. The 31-year-old said it took three years to plan the walk from Rwanda to Egypt.

"I've always had a passion for Africa since I was young. The river Nile has always interested me and I thought, what's the biggest expedition I could ever think of? And walking the Nile it was," he told The Associated Press.

Though he faces many dangers on the walk from both man and beast, Wood noted that past explorers didn't have the luxury of a satellite phone or Google maps.

"We've had some close calls with buffalo, elephants and very close call with a crocodile in Murchison Falls," a national park in Uganda, he said Thursday. "The toughest challenge I'm finding is to keep the momentum going and not get too dismayed when there are delays,"

On average Wood walks 20 miles a day, but he is seldom alone. His guide from Congo, who goes by the name Boston, has been a long-time companion. In South Sudan three AK-47 wielding soldiers from the commando battalion flank him as security. Another South Sudanese man on a bike ferries supplies.

"South Sudan has been a challenge to say the least," Wood said. "And when I set off on Nov. 25 I obviously didn't predict a civil war kicking off mid-December."

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