Among 19th century explorers, the quest for the course of the River Niger became an obsession which, for many, proved fatal. These travellers included the celebrated Mungo Park who, in 1805, journeyed 5000km down the Niger from Barmako, convinced that he would eventually join with the mighty Congo. A year later he and his party were massacred by natives.
Despite the dangers, others followed. Among them Alexander Laing, murdered cat Timbuctoo in 1826; and Captain George Lyon whose companion also died from disease. Contemporary with these were the authors of this work: Major Dixon Denham (1786-1828), the main contributor; Captain Hugh Clapperton (1788-1827), a noted explorer; and Doctor Walter Oudney (1790-1824), whose death on the journey dealt a severe blow to the party.
They set out from Tripoli in 1822 on a two-year journey that would cover over 4000km. Their aim was to explore the route between the North African coast, through Morzuq and on to Lake Chad, thence westwards into unexplored territory where few natives had ever before seen a European face. Facing unimaginable hardship, their journal nevertheless conveys a vivid and captivating account of the expedition. That the course has little bearing on the ultimate success of their travels. With the information they collected, added to later exploration, the secrets of the Niger were eventually unravelled.
Here reproduced in facsimile from the 1826 edition, also in two volumes, complete with plates and maps, Narratives of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa is made accessible to the general reader.