Back to Africa: ExWeb interview with Julian Monroe Fisher

Posted: Sep 10, 2012 02:57 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer/edit TS) "It’s not about the Discovery Channel show eating scorpions and drinking bodily fluids," says Fisher about Amazon Davey who just survived a real life attack - in a similar kayak that Julian soon will use for his own expedition, in 'dodgy territory' in Africa.

Kicking off from South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, on the second phase in his Great African Expedition, adventurous Anthropologist Julian Monroe Fisher will retrace Baker's 1861 route and circumnavigate Lake Albert.

The expedition starts in December and the north western part of the lake will be interesting, Julian told Correne in this interview, as LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) leader, Joseph Kony, has been causing havoc there for years. After that it's on to Lake Victoria and the footsteps of Stanley.

ExplorersWeb: How are your plans and preparations going for the next stage of your Africa expedition? What are you planning to do? Dates?

Julian: Phase One of The 2012-16 Great African Expedition was completed in late May, 2012. I followed the geographical course of the River Nile from Cairo, Egypt, to Khartoum, Sudan. When I arrived to Khartoum, the Sudanese government and the South Sudan government were basically at war over the oil revenues. That meant that I could not travel south of Khartoum.

Phase Two will begin in December, 2012, as soon as the Ugandan seasonal rains end. The plan will be to fly to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. There I will take a transfer flight to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

From Juba I plan to travel back north into the Nuba Hills, aka, the Nuba Mountains, Currently there is conflict in the Nuba Hills, for when South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011, the demarcation left many questions unsettled on the ground. As long as the oil is in the south and the refineries are in the north, problems will arise.

After the journey into the Nuba Hills, I will turn south and follow the 1861 expeditionary route of Sir Samuel Baker. That trail takes me away from the geographical course of the Nile to Nimule on the South Sudan-Uganda border, then to Gulu. In Gulu I plan to head up to the Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda’s most remote and least visited conservation area.

I will then return back to Gulu, travel to Karuma Falls where I plan to trek overland through the gorge to Murchison Falls in Uganda, then on to where the Victoria Nile flows into Lake Albert. I will then kayak along the eastern shoreline of Lake Albert retracing the route Baker travelled.

My expedition will differ from Baker’s in that he actually only travelled roughly 75 kilometers along the lakes eastern shoreline; I plan to circumnavigate the entire lake by means of kayaking, local long canoes and walking.

As the borderline between Uganda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo runs through the center of Lake Albert, the Congolese side is a bit dodgy.

The north western part of Lake Albert is the region where LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) leader, Joseph Kony, has been causing havoc for years. He is currently reported to be deeper into Central African Republic and that region is currently not on my radar.

In the Congolese lakeside town of Kasenyi on the western shoreline of Lake Albert, I plan to head inland to the town of Bunia. Then by motorcycle-taxi I plan to reach the Ituri River. This side trip of my journey will take upwards of a week. It will be important to research that region to prepare for a future phase of the Great African Expedition.

Following my completion of the circumnavigation of Lake Albert, I will head to Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake on the planet. I plan by means of kayaking, local long canoes and walking to complete the northern and western parts of the circumnavigation of Lake Victoria in 2013. The Kenyan and Tanzanian portions will be attempted in late 2013, early 2014.

I also plan to travel extensively in the Sesse Islands of Lake Victoria.

The route I plan to take will be the same route Sir Henry Morton Stanley followed during The Great Trans Africa Journey of 1874-77.

ExplorersWeb: We have seen the attack on Davey du Plessis in the Amazon. Africa is also known as a hostile environment. How have you experienced it? Or do you stay away from more dangerous areas? (Given that attacks can actually happen at unexpected places.) Do you get info from the locals/chiefs?

Julian: I have been following Davey du Plessis expedition in the Amazon very closely. My thoughts are with him and his family. I have offered them any possible assistance I can muster from here in Austria.

I believe that he truly represents a new generation of explorers that are out there doing it for all the right reasons. From what I have seen through his blog, it’s not about the book deal or the Discovery Channel show eating scorpions and drinking bodily fluids. For this passionate young explorer, it is all about experiencing life to the fullest. It is all about enjoying every sandwich.

Besides Davey’s blog, I had a personal connection. I was drawn into his story because he was just beginning the kayak portion and he was using a Folbot kayak. Folbot will be providing me with kayaks for The 2012-16 Great African Expedition.

It’s a dangerous world once you step out your front door and I believe Davey has accepted that reality. The only attack I have experienced in recent years actually occurred right here in Austria, right out on the street in front of my house here in a small village in Austria. I was physically attacked by a neighbor who had an issue with me not speaking German. It took me two years in the Austrian judicial system to get a judgment.

Next: Safety issues in Africa, meetings with Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey, Pres. Robert Mugabe and more.

Between 2007 and 2011 Julian Monroe Fisher conducted five consecutive Explorers Club flag sanctioned research expeditions to the African continent. In 2008 he and his team were accredited by The Ugandan Wildlife Authority for establishing a new route in the Rwenzori Mountains, the famed ‘Mountains of the Moon’. In 2011 the explorer walked large portions of the African continent between the Indian Ocean coast of Mozambique and the Atlantic Coast of Angola during an expedition dubbed ‘EQUATORIA – A Walk Across Africa’.

1012-16 Great African Expedition objectives are to compare the 19th century Ethnographic documentation of the African tribal kingdoms gathered during the expeditions of the Victorian age with the realities of 21st century Africa.

Phase One of the project started in March, 2012, with Fisher travelling on an overland journey up the Nile River from Cairo, Egypt, to Khartoum, Sudan.

During Phase Two he will travel from Khartoum up the Nile and across the new nation of South Sudan to Lake Albert in Uganda.

Phase Three: Zanzibar to Bagamoyo to Tabora to Ujiji & the Circumnavigation of Lake Tanganyika.

Phase Four: The Kagera River & the Circumnavigation of Lake Victoria.

Phase Five: The Gabon River & the Ogoue River.

Phase Six: The Circumnavigation of Lake Malawi, Lake Bangweulu & Lake Mweru.

Phase Seven: The Zambezi River, the Upper Lualaba River & The Congo River.

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The geographical course of the river that Baker followed until the point where the party turned away and crossed the Nubian Desert.
Image by Julian Monroe Fisher courtesy Julian Monroe Fisher, SOURCE
Julian's travels have led him to encounters such as being on stage with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega while he waged a failed attempt to become President; and meeting the great train robber, Ronnie Biggs, while he was still a fugitive living in Rio.
Image by Julian Monroe Fisher courtesy Julian Monroe Fisher, SOURCE
Archaeological sites from Cairo to Khartoum. Julian depended upon local guides to navigate him through the indigenous cultures along the geographical course of the Nile.
Image by Julian Monroe Fisher courtesy Julian Monroe Fisher, SOURCE
Fresh pottery airing in the sun to dry a stones throw from the River Nile near the village of Karima, Sudan.
Image by Julian Monroe Fisher courtesy Julian Monroe Fisher, SOURCE