David Lemon

An Afternoon With David Lemon

It was a normal day and I was meeting with a normal guy.

Well normal as in appearance, but me and David Lemon have one passion in common, adventure and exploration of the Zambezi river and walking it’s length. Which some people would say is not “Normal”…

He walked for a total of 292 days and covered a whopping 3100 km; after catching malaria three times, dodging crocodiles while bathing and walking the last 60 km with his legs covered in bandages from ulcers, adventurer David Lemon became the first person in recorded history to walk the length of the Zambezi River.

Before I set off on my own Zambezi adventure, I spent an afternoon with David to get to know the man who had succeeded in doing what I would soon set out to try and achieve myself.


Why did you walk the Zambezi?

Only you and me probably know the answer to that question, it’s just something inside you that needs to come out, a hunger for the challenge. Something that needs feeding within us, a thirst for adventure and the unknown.


What was your budget for the expedition?


No budget, I was sponsored by Cowbell who provided me with a milk powder which I rationed and was restocked with at various locations. They also provided me with Zambian Kwacha when I needed it, so all I carried was a handfull of US dollars and relied on help from the good people I met along the way.


What were the people like that you met along the river?


The locals were undoubtedly wonderful and helped where they could, but as a rule I tried to avoid human contact as much as possible. I had a letter from the Zambian minister of tourism asking the people to help me out when in need with food and shelter etc.


What did you do for food and water?


I drank from where the water was running , also from villages when away from the river. For food I ate Nshima and fish from generous locals and chiefs, and I always tried to have at least ten weeks worth of powdered food in my pack.


What was the strangest thing you ate?


Roast rat. 


How did you wash along the river?


I jumped in the river then jumped out, then on the river bank I soaped myself up and jumped back in the river to rinse myself off, carefully looking around for any sign of crocodiles before doing so.


What animals did you encounter?


Mostly snakes and crocodiles, and one lion in a national park.


What should I do if I encounter any wild animals?


Stay still and calm and wait for them to pass.


What were the hardest parts of the walk?


The floodplains in Western Zambia which are still receding until August, and the Gorges which were hellish; I could only walk about 4km across them per day.


What are the wettest months along the river?


November to February is the rainy season and the floodplains are at there highest until April.

How long did it take to reach Livingstone, the halfway point?


Around 3 months.


When did you catch malaria?


In Mozambique and after the walk. I had to be airlifted to hospital and had a 15 month gap before setting off to complete the final part of the walk.




Meeting with David ahead of my own Zambezi adventure gave me a huge boost, and his vast source of Zambezi knowledge proved key in helping me on my way to walking the mighty river myself.

He is someone I look up to for his great exploration of Africa, and he truly deserves his place on my list of explorers.








A huge respect and thank you to David Lemon for a lovely afternoon, and for his full backing and support ahead of my walk….