Fans of the T+L Hiking Guide who've already completed the Appalachian Trail, the pilgrimage to Santiago, or the climb to Machu Picchu will soon have another path to traverse: The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, covering nearly 360 miles in South Sudan* and Uganda.
The route is the same one that Samuel Baker, a British officer, took with his wife in the 1860s. Traveling south from present-day South Sudan, the couple became the first Europeans to see what they would name Lake Albert, which marks the terminus of the new trail.
Julian Monroe Fisher, an American adventurer living in Austria, is partnering with local governments and wildlife authorities to make the Baker Historical Trail a reality, and has already hiked the route. This month, he’s laying down trail-markers and positioning campsites in Uganda, with the hopes of having everything ready in both countries by early 2014. His goal? Educate others about the Bakers' journey and bring focus to the fact that South Sudan and Uganda are "in business."
Hikers will pass through a variety of eco-systems in what Fisher calls “one of the wildest places” he’s ever been—and he’s conducted expeditions in over 85 countries. With segments along the Nile, in thick bush-land, past waterfalls, and over rolling hills, the trail affords its participants prime wildlife viewing (expect to see lions, elephants, and leopards, among others).
Most important, though, is the chance for trekkers to meet with locals. Without any lodges en route, hikers will camp in and near the villages they pass through, giving ample opportunity for friendly interaction. Fisher explains that when he travels, he likes to bookend his trips at deluxe properties. But, “in the middle,” he says, “I like to be sitting around a campfire at night with locals.”
So who will be joining Fisher on the trail? Anyone who has an “adventuresome kind of soul.”
*In March, the U.S. State Department renewed travel warnings for South Sudan. While it emphasizes the most dangerous areas are well to the north of the trail, the report urges visitors to “exercise extreme caution” in all areas of the newly formed country, and strongly recommends Americans to defer travel plans to South Sudan.
Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure.