(Photo courtesy of Levison Wood)

Global Rescue member Levison Wood is a British explorer, writer and photographer who recently finished walking the entire length of the Nile River, the first person ever to do so. During his journey, Wood succeeded in raising funds for charities including the Tusk Trust and the Soldiers’ Charity.

Wood served as an Officer in the British Parachute Regiment, where he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Since then, Wood has combined his passion for writing, photography and adventure. His work has been featured in a variety of media, including National Geographic and the BBC. His Nile journey was filmed and broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK and Animal Planet.

Global Rescue interviewed Wood back in 2013 before he embarked on his expedition, and recently had the opportunity to speak with him about his incredible Nile adventure and his plans for the future.

From the many months of your Nile journey, is there one highlight that stays with you more than any other?

There were some real highlights and some real lows. You may have heard about the tragic death of Matthew Power. That’s obviously an enormous tragedy that happened during the expedition. Of course, there were some incredible times as well. Looking back at the journey, it’s definitely positive. What will stay with me the most is the ascent of humanity, the fact that wherever I went, I was generally looked after very well. People were in incredibly hospitable, kind and generous.

Any close calls for you?

Yes, there were certainly times in international parks where I had some very close calls with wildlife. I was chased by a hippo and snapped at by a crocodile, those sorts of things. There were a couple of occasions in the desert where we were very close to running out of water. That’s all part of accepting the risk of an expedition of this nature.

How did you prepare for a journey like this?

I spent three years planning, so I really did my homework. There weren’t any surprises except for how mentally tough it was. Physically I was prepared, and physically I was ok because I had done my training. Africa has such a bad rep in some respects that all you hear about is the war and poverty and all those things. In fact, what I came away with was really incredible stories of entrepreneurs and the fact that people aren’t completely reliant on aid and can actually get along in life and are generally pretty happy.

How does it feel to come home after walking the Nile?
It’s definitely a welcome relief. It’s good to get back and, I wouldn’t say relax, but it’s good to be in one place for a while. I’ve been back since September, so it’s been a few months and I think that’s needed in this line of work. To make a success of exploration as a career, you have to be ready to give talks, write books, and speak with media. That’s six months doing your job and six months doing all the work behind the scenes.


 (Photo courtesy of Levison Wood)

You were inspired at a very young age. Now you are inspiring a new generation of young explorers. Do you receive letters or emails from young people asking about your trip?

Yes, it’s really cool to be able to inspire the next generation. I’ve done many events at various schools and colleges. It’s really great when you get messages of support from people that you’ve inspired. Two people I’ve never met sent me messages saying, ‘Lev, I was fighting cancer and watching your journey really inspired me to carry on.’ When you read things like that, it makes it all worthwhile.

What’s next?

Actually, I have my next journey planned out. I’m going away again this June on the next big expedition. I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy at this stage. It’s going to be about four months, so a bit shorter but equally interesting and equally challenging.