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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Long Distance Trail To Open In South Sudan And Uganda

Backpackers and mountain bikers will be interested to learn that a new long distance trail is set to open in Africa in early 2014. The new trail will give adventure seekers the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a legendary explorer while also visiting the newest country on the planet – South Sudan. Along the way they'll get the chance to experience parts of Africa that remain wild and undeveloped, passing through landscapes that have remained largely unchanged for centuries.

The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail will stretch from Juba in South Sudan to Baker's View, which overlooks Lake Albert in western Uganda. The route will cover approximately 575 km (357 miles) along the same path that the Bakers followed on their two expeditions to Africa, which took place in the 1860's and 70's. The route will end at the point where Sir Samuel became the first European to ever set eyes on Lake Albert, which he himself named after Prince Albert.

The trail is being created through the efforts of anthropologist and explorer Julian Monroe Fisher who is working closely with the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, The Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation & Tourism for South Sudan. The descendants of Sir Samual and Lady Florence Baker are also taking part in the creation of this new route, which is being developed with the support of RailRiders Adventure Clothing and Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, both of which are sponsors of Fisher's Great African Expedition. It was during Phase Two of that expedition that he discovered the exact location of Baker's View and is credited by the Ugandan Government with correcting key locations on maps. Fisher will return to Uganda in June to begin placing historical markers along the trail which will designate places that the Bakers camped while they were exploring the region.
During the 1860's and 70's, Samuel Baker explored much of central Africa and later along the path of the Nile. His wife, Lady Florence, traveled with him on his expeditions as he wandered throughout much of what is now Uganda and South Sudan. One of his early adventures took him to the shores of  Lake Albert, which he discovered in 1864. In addition to their contributions towards filling in the blank spots on the map, the Bakers were also staunchly against slavery. The couple publicly called for the abolition of the slave trade, a fact that is not forgotten in the region even in the 21st century.

The new trail is set to officially open in January of 2014 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Baker's expedition. Unlike many trails of this kind, access will not only be granted to hikers, but also mountain bikers and eventually 4x4 vehicles as well. Future extensions to the trail will expand on its length, including a long loop in South Sudan that will lead to the summit of Mount Kinyeti, the tallest peak in the region at 3187 meters (10,456 ft).

The trail is also being seen as an economic boon for both Uganda and South Sudan. The hope is that the scenic route will lure trekkers to the area bring much needed in flux of tourism dollars.

9 comments:

adventurelisa said...

Ooooohhh... I wanna run this. Delighted to read of this. Thanks Kraig.

Kraig Becker said...

Sounds like it is going to be amazing. Get there early and you can be the first to run it Lisa! :)

mxnnz said...

when we got to Juba (1980) from walking from Alexandria, we turned left to cross into north west Kenya, as the Uganda boarder was still under war. So one day, I will just have to come back and finish going straight, and back into those lovely Mountains of the Moon.
well done. are they naming any parts of the track , or a few seats on the way, after you Julian?

David Baker said...

As a great great grandson of Sir Samuel Baker, I would like to thank Julian Monroe Fisher for the creation of this great commemorative trail. It passess through some of the most spectacular places in Uganda. To mention a few: Fort Patiko is a place of stunning views, and of great interest as a place where the Bakers overcame the slave traders. Baker's View reveals Lake Albert lying like a mirror below. The mighty Murchison Falls are where the Victoria Nile plunges through a narrow fissure in the rocks creating clouds of spray. We look forward to the development of the Trail into South Sudan. Much of the route combines historical fascination with modern day interest. Those who take up the challenge will be rewarded !

Kraig Becker said...

Thank you for sharing your insights David. They are most appreciated. I'm looking forward to learning more about the trail as it gets closer to its official opening.

Gerald Klamer said...

Hard to believe, a long distance trail in the middle of africa! So what is it like? Does it simply follow the dirt roads or is there really something like a "trail" in places? Will there be a guidebook? I suppose there are no markers, so how will peope to follow the trail, as it is probably shown on no map? Do the governments realy thing there will be hordes of hikers to explore hot africa?
As you can see, I have my doubts, but as I like africa and have often been there, nice idea!

Kraig Becker said...

Gerald: The trail will follow some roads and some basic trail. It will be marked. Those markers are being put into place now. I suppose once the trail starts to see traffic, you could see a guidebook for it, but that is probably a bit down the road yet.

Clayton Beckett said...

Any idea about safety on this trail? I asked my friend who is Angola about this and he did not recommend I do it. It looks beautiful and I want to, but it may not be worth it depending on dangers of abduction, crime, etc

Kraig Becker said...

Clayton: From what I understand, the trail is still not safe in South Sudan. That country remains in conflict, with both locals and foreign visitors facing great danger. But, the trail through Uganda is open and safe for backpackers.