Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa has long been regarded as a classic of African travel literature. In fulfilling his mission to find the Niger River and in documenting its potential as an inland waterway for trade, Park was significant in opening Africa to European economic interests. His modest, low-key heroism made it possible for the British public to imagine themselves as a welcomed force in Africa. As a tale of adventure and survival, it has inspired the imaginations of audiences since its first publication in 1799 and writers from Wordsworth and Melville to Conrad.
"A Stranger Alone in a Strange Land"
Mungo Park was an explorer of the real kind. In 1795, only aged 24, he left Gambia for the uncharted interior of Africa, in a journey that would be filled with tragedy, heroism, and adventure. Park was the first European to ever reach the river Niger and the legendary city of Timbuctoo, thus resolving, once and for all, a century-old geographic debate. He travelled with local guides and later entirely alone, through warring kingdoms, robberies, imprisonment, and extreme duress. By the time he returned to Gambia, he had long been given up for dead.