Sept. 13, 2012
-- After becoming the first tourist group to visit the new nation earlier this year, the global expeditionary service, Secret Compass, intends to return to South Sudan in February 2013. The team will initially seek to explore the Imatong Mountains, a pristine and remote range in the far south of the country, before setting off on an epic 5-6 days rafting adventure down the White Nile. This will see the team negotiate a 170km stretch of the Africa’s most famous river, all the way from the Ugandan border to the country’s capital Juba. Along the way this pioneering expedition, which is open to all with a sense of adventure and a good level of fitness, will attempt to summit Mount Kinyeti, the highest mountain in South Sudan. Kinyeti was first climbed in 1929 and has only been revisited twice since 1984, meaning that only handful of privileged individuals have ever seen the view from the top.
Formally established on 9 July 2011, South Sudan remains the world’s newest country but vast amounts of the bush and jungle which famous early explorers, such as Sir Samuel Baker, battled through over a century and a half ago remain almost totally unchanged. The team will be led by Tom Bodkin, an ex-Parachute Regiment officer, experienced expedition guide and Secret Compass founder. He explains that ‘although South Sudan has become synonymous for violence the reality is that it is very localised. Yes there are issues along the border with the north- especially over oil, and there is regional insecurity because of tribal violence- stemming from cattle wars- but there is no specific threat to foreigners and the people are actually very friendly."
Although tensions with the Sudan continue to the north, this is the first time in modern history that the opportunity has arisen to visit this stunning region. The opportunity to experience the welcome of the immensely friendly South Sudanese people is a great privilege, for whilst the concept of international tourism is still largely unknown to them, it is one which is seen as inextricably linked with peace. As Daniel Wani- minister of wildlife and tourism explained ‘When we see the visitors, we see hope. It means that we can return to normality after 30 years of war.’
En route to the White Nile, the expedition will pass through the Nimule National Park which still provides a refuge for big game, providing the opportunity to see elephants, buffalo, hippos and cats, in an environment which remains untouched by any form of tourism. Whilst on the river the rafting phase of the expedition will be led by Pete Meredith, Africa’s pre-eminent rafting guide, who first chartered this isolated river environment in 2004. The chance to raft the rapids of this inaccessible stretch of river, accompanied by crocodiles and hippos, is a true once in a lifetime opportunity as the team will gain a unique insight into river-side villages whose way of life has remained unaltered for generations.