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Top Gear: Africa Special Part 1

Posted by on Mar 3, 2013 in Top Gear Series 19, Top Gear Specials

  • Jeremy, James, and Richard are in central Africa to find the source of the Nile River
  • Part 1 of 2

Episode Guide

We begin with a challenge. The boys are told to buy three used estate cars for up to £1,500 in Britain and report at a small village in rural Uganda. Jeremy arrives in a BMW 528i Touring, Richard in a Subaru Impreza WRX Estate and James in a Volvo 850R Wagon. Their challenge is revealed once they arrived: to find the true source of the river Nile.

They set off, and discover that exploring isn’t as difficult as first thought when they go on a nice easy drive and find Lake Victoria, of whom the Victorian Explorers thought was the source of the Nile. However, once there, they are then told that it is not the actual source of the Nile and there were two other disputed locations for it, one in Rwanda and one in Burundi. However, Jeremy Clarkson insists that both of these locations are wrong and decides they should head west towards Lake Edward to see whether there is a river that links it from Lake Kivu in Rwanda; which Jeremy believes is the source.

In their journey west, they stop to visit the Entebbe Airport, scene of an important hostage rescue by Israeli Specialist, and discover that their back-up car for the trip is a Ford Scorpio Estate. They continue into Kampala, Uganda’s capital city where they get held up in a traffic jam overnight, finding it to be some of the most horrendous traffic they’d ever seen; while still stuck in it in the morning the trio buy breakfast from local vendors.

Once out of the jam, they continue on well-maintained highways west, finding their trip incredibly easy before reaching the town of Mbarara in the southwest of the country, via a stop in Jezza, a village in Mpigi District (where Richard is given a present), after driving through tea plantations in an attempt to discover a lovely teahouse hotel, which in the mind of Richard, was bound to be found due to the tea programs he’d seen.

In Mbarara they stay in rather disappointing hotel, with Jeremy having a bed with faeces on it. Next morning, disgusted, they leave the hotel; whereupon, Richard has the idea (in an effort to make up for the trouble) to make their cars into ‘mobile campers’. Each go out to find what they want and change their estates. James modifies his Volvo by adding a library and a workshop (which Jeremy admits was a smart idea); Richard adds a stove, sink, and cupboards; and Jeremy adds a coffin and a fridge mainly for beer along with attachments to the side for a portable bathroom. The coffin he uses to put his clothes in, while he would be sleeping on “Egyptian cotton and duck down.”

They leave for Lake Edward, camping overnight there because of its beauty before heading in search of the river heading for Lake Kivu. While James suffers problems and is left behind to sort it out, Richard and Jeremy check the rivers flowing into the lake, only to find none of the rivers connect the two lakes as they all flow in the wrong direction. This destroys Jeremy’s theory, and so that night, he checks the map and devises a new one; he believes that the source of the Nile must be on the other side of Lake Victoria. His reasoning is that the Mediterranean Sea is effectively an inland sea and so Gibraltar is the true mouth of the Nile, rather than Alexandria in Egypt making him believe the source is somewhere around the east side of the lake.

After discovering this, they decide that they must drive straight to the other side of Lake Victoria to get to the southeast coast in Tanzania near the Serengeti. They start this journey by heading south into the Rwenzori Mountains, finding the going hard and most of the time getting their vehicles stuck in mud; James’ Volvo, which had lost its protective skid plate, is fixed by using a piece of metal from the passenger door of Jeremy’s BMW, something he later discovers and accuses him of theft; in addition to this, Jeremy’s estate is also struck by a falling branch, which cracks the windscreen. His car suffers worst from the mud, while Richard has it easier. Though all know the journey is far from over…

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Rating: 9.1/10 (106 votes cast)
  • J griffin

    Livingstone wouldn’t have got the union flag upside down. No knighthoods I’m afraid