Mungo Park Expedition

PARK arrived in June 1795 at the mouth of the river Gambia, and eventually set out on his quest with a small party of native servants.  After a month’s captivity near Jarra and the theft of his belongings, he proceeded alone.  On July 20, 1796, he reached the Niger, ‘the grand 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’ [Lloyd (1973), 40].  Turning back before reaching Timbuktu, he set off on the 500-mile trip back to the coast.  Robbed of his possessions, he was consoled by the ‘beauty of … moss’ [quoted in Lloyd (1973), 42].  Walking with a convoy of slaves, Park reached the coast in June 1797 and then returned to England via Antigua.  Park embarked on his second expedition in 1805, hoping to prove that the Niger flowed into the river Congo.  Despite the loss of over thirty of the white men accompanying him, he declared, ‘though I were myself half dead, I would still persevere; and if I could not succeed in the object of my journey, I should at least die on the Niger’ [quoted in Lloyd (1973), 55].  The story of his death on the river was relayed by Park’s native guide, Isacco, and supplemented by later explorers, who found a few relics from the second expedition.


Return to the Encyclopedia search
This item's Geotag
This item on the Timeline