At the summit I sat on a red laterite boulder and gazed out over a sea of green. It was a wilderness that stretched as far as the eye could see and disappeared into a haze of shimmering heat in the distance. After several days of walking I had reached the highest point in Senegal and one of the most important places along the route taken by the legendary Scottish explorer Mungo Park. Sweat poured from my body and tiny flies buzzed irritatingly close to my eyes. I felt utterly exhausted. It had been a steep climb over very rough terrain in blistering heat. Now, finally, I had a chance to reflect more on Mungo Park whose route I was retracing nearly two hundred years after his death. He had probably climbed this very mountain dressed in heavy Scottish clothes and long red gloves, which reached his elbows. Dressed like this he had hoped to escape the bites of mosquitoes and flies. How he must have suffered in the heat!
On the 20th July 1795 Mungo Park achieved his major goal of reaching the Niger River. It is a landmark in the history of European exploration but has sadly now been almost forgotten. We can only imagine how Park must have felt when after all the dangers he had been through he finally saw the glittering waters of the great river. His words do little to convey his deepest feelings. Perhaps he was writing them in utter exhaustion later in the day. Perhaps it is a measure of the man's humility."
.we rode together through some marshy ground, where, as I was anxiously looking around for the river, one of them called out 'geo affili' (see the water), and looking forwards, I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission - the long sought for majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. I hastened to the brink, and, having drank of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the Great Ruler of all things, for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success"