A new long distance trekking route is set to open in Africa early next year that will give backpackers and mountain bikers a new challenge to strive for. The new trail will run from South Sudan to Uganda, following in the footsteps of a celebrated explorer who first visited the region a century and a half ago. The official dedication of the Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail isn’t set to take place until next January, but work is already underway on the trail in preparation for its opening. The new route will begin near Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and will cover approximately 357 miles before ending at a place called Baker’s View along the shores of Lake Albert in western Uganda. Baker’s View is the point at which explorer Samuel Baker became the first European to set eyes on Lake Albert, one of the largest bodies of water on the entire African continent. He would later name the lake after Prince Albert, the consort to Queen Victoria of England.
Throughout the 1860′s and 70′s, Baker explored much of Central Africa, often with his wife Florence at his side. Their travels helped to fill in some blank spots that still existed on maps at that time. The new trail will follow the route they took on some of their early adventures, including the one that revealed Lake Albert to Europeans for the first time. The discovery of the lake led to Baker being knighted.
The trail is the personal project of modern day explorer Julian Monroe Fisher, who recently walked much of the route as part of his Great African Expedition. He is working with the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities; The Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation & Tourism for South Sudan to build and promote the trail, which could have significant economic benefits for the rural areas in both countries. Descendants of Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker have blessed these efforts too, viewing it as a fitting way to commemorate their famous ancestors – particularly since 2014 will mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Albert.
In June, Fisher will return to the trail where he’ll begin setting down a series of historical markers in important locations along the route. Those markers will tell the Bakers’ story to those who hike the trail and will even indicate where they camped while exploring the region. This will give those walking the path the unique opportunity to set up their own campsites in those exact same places.
One of the more unique aspects of this trail is that it will be open to not only hikers but also mountain bikers. This will give outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to explore the new route on foot or from the seat of a bike. Either way, when it opens next year, the route is sure to be popular with those looking for a new adventure.
[Photo Credit: Julian Monroe Fisher]