KAYAKS DOWN THE NILE by John Goddard

KAYAKS DOWN THE NILE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Less an adventure story than a travel idyll, this is the 1950-51 journal of a young American who explored the Nile by kayak with two French companions. Goddard proffers no background on the orion, sponsorship, financing, or launching of the expedition, introducing it in a vacuum as the first successful navigation of the entire river from its ""hydrological"" source at the headsprings of Kagera to its mouth on the Mediterranean. To the extent that government prohibitions and un-negotiable rapids detoured the group overland for long stretches, the claim seems debatable but there's no point in debating it: while the prospect of firstness was part of the lure, Goddard's pleasure was in the experience of making the trip more than in just the accomplishment. The Nile Basin was ""the world in miniature: a fantastic variety of races, animals, terrain, agriculture, and weather,"" and he capitalized on every opportunity: to communicate--in serviceable Swahili, until it gave way to Arabic as tropical jungle gave way to desert; to commune--with an antelope (""a meeting of fellow creatures of a common Creator""), with Stone-Age man (""I was a kindred spirit. . ."") while paddling his kayak; to preserve the whole record--on film. The book is to include 100 pictures, which might (if the samples are representative) be its best feature. Sadly, the only personalities around--or personal histories--belong to the hospitable villagers, foreigners, and District Commissioners along the ""African Grapevine."" That leaves Goddard out: what might have been a personal chronicle is only idiosyncratic.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Brigham Young Univ. Press