50th anniversary of the first Blue Nile expedition commemorated

8 Oct 2018

On 2nd October, the Scientific Exploration Society commemorated the 50th anniversary of the exploration of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River at a special event at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Mr Fekadu Beyene, Head of Diaspora Affairs (Chargé d’Affaires) attended on behalf of the Embassy and was joined by some of the members of the expedition and a number of VIPs, including members of the Royal Family.

In 1968, Colonel John Blashford-Snell led a 70-strong Anglo-Ethiopian team of civilians and servicemen on the first descent of the infamous Blue Nile, at the invitation of Emperor Haile Selassie.

John welcomed a packed theatre of guests, presenting an illustrated talk about the historic expedition, accompanied by some members of the expedition. Said to be one of the great expeditions of the last century, it was described by the Daily Telegraph as ‘the conquest of the Everest of Rivers’.

The commemoration also included an exhibition of equipment used on the expedition, including one of the original Avon whitewater boats.

Until 1968 all attempts to explore the Blue Nile, which runs through the highlands of Ethiopia, had failed.

The team set out from the main base in Ethiopia in late July 1968, reaching their goal in September of that year.

More than 70 papers have been published covering the scientific work of the expedition. The use of the Avon inflatable boats led to the development of white-water rafting. The expedition film was widely acclaimed on TV and the historian Richard Snailham wrote the official book The Blue Nile Revealed.

The expedition attracted widespread support, including from The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who had recently visited Ethiopia and been taken by the emperor to view the Blue Nile’s Tis Issat Falls.

Tis Issat Falls

After the success of this expedition, John and colleagues founded the Scientific Exploration Society in 1969, in order to initiate a worldwide programme of scientific expeditions for the exploration of remote regions of the earth; focusing on scientific research, conservation, education and community aid projects, particularly in under-resourced environments.

The Society is one of the longest-running exploration organisations in the world, with an unrivalled record of initiating over 150 expeditions since it began, achieving many ‘world firsts’ in exploration, pioneering and testing specialist equipment in the field and developing leadership skills.

At the conclusion of the event, one lucky winner won a holiday to Ethiopia courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines and Far & Wild Travel. Funds from the raffle were donated to the CURE hospital in Ethiopia that provides life-changing orthopaedic operations for young children.

Latest News

Browse all
Ethiopia’s world-class cyclist and reigning national time-trial champion, Tsgabu Grma, has launched a new cycling tour company, Ethio Cycling Holidays, based in Ethiopia offering tours for international cycling enthusiasts, as well as introducing more cyclists to the fantastic opportunities for road cycling in Ethiopia.
17 May 2019
Tsgabu Grmay launches new cycling tour company in Ethiopia
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed marked his first year in office on April 2. In our Editorial, we take a look at the Prime Minister's first year in office, highlighting historical events that have taken place.
14 May 2019
Wonders and challenges of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s first year in office
Former Ethiopian President, H.E. Dr. Negasso Gidada, was laid to rest at St Peter and St Paul Catholic Cemetery in Addis Ababa on Sunday, 5th March, with thousands in attendance. Dr. Negasso died on Saturday, 27th April at the age of 75, while receiving medical treatment in Germany.
10 May 2019
Ethiopians bid farewell to the late former President Dr Negasso Gidada
The 26th World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) took place in Addis Ababa from 1st to 3rd May and was heralded as a reflection of the current social and political transformations in Ethiopia. During the celebrations, PM Abiy was named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize.
9 May 2019
Ethiopia hosts historic World Press Freedom Day
UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, visited Ethiopia on 2nd May, where he spoke at the World Press Freedom Day celebrations announcing the £15.5 million UK aid to help Ethiopia run transparent, free and fair elections in 2020. The Foreign Secretary also met PM Abiy and the new Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew.
8 May 2019
UK Foreign Secretary visits Ethiopia in whistle-stop Africa tour
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his actions in the region and, in particular, for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
3 May 2019
PM Abiy named laureate of the 2019 UNESCO Peace Prize
Following the hugely successful Diaspora Forum, held under the theme, "Building a Bridge for Peace and Unity, a cross-cutting Diaspora-led initiative, aimed at further engaging the Ethiopian community in the UK in the current political and social transformations taking place in Ethiopia, has been established.
30 Apr 2019
Diaspora-led Initiative for Peace and Unity Established
Enchanting tourist attractions, unique diplomatic stature, and a thriving airline have placed Ethiopia, Land of Origins, on top of the world when it comes to tourism growth. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review, the country saw the highest tourism growth in the world (48.6%).
22 Apr 2019
Land of Origins: The Next Big Thing in Global Tourism
As part of efforts to further accelerate the root and branch reforms taking place in Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed new ministers in a minor reshuffle of his cabinet today (18th October).
18 Apr 2019
New Foreign and Defence Ministers Appointed