Livingstone & Stanley: Journey into Africa

Mid-nineteenth century saw multiple explorations of Africa by European explorers. Nothing obsessed these explorers more than the quest for finding the source of the Nile which, to this day, is under contention. One such exploration was led by David Livingstone in 1866, a veteran who had already spent twenty years in Africa and whose past adventures had sparked such awe and who exercised a strong influence on attitudes towards Africa in Victorian England.

Livingstone did not succeed in this quest to find the origin of the Nile - John Hanning Speke had earlier claimed that honor - but this epic journey over seven years, intertwined with an equally audacious exploration by Henry Morton Stanley (more on it later), had such an impact on our understanding of Africa and provided a detailed journal on what an expedition looked like in the 19th century. 

Livingstone was already a household name at that time and his disappearance early on during this mission sparked huge distress and many explorers were dispatched to find him. The one who eventually succeeded was Henry Morton Stanley, an American civil war veteran and a journalist with New York Herald, who embarks on an epic expedition himself, traveling 975 miles over 236 days, and eventually finds Livingstone in Ujiji on the banks of Lake Tanganyika in present day Tanzania in late 1871.

Stanley greeted Livingstone with those famous words.

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"


"I thank God, Doctor, I have been permitted to see you."

"I feel thankful, I am here to welcome you."

Livingstone and Stanley would spend another four to five months together trying to find the source of the Nile but without success. Eventually they part in Tabora. Stanley would later go on, sail to London, and live to tell the story. Livingstone wasn’t done exploring yet and would travel south to his eventual death a year later in Chipundu in present day Zambia.

The map below tracks the journey of Livingstone and Stanley, first separately (Livingstone takes the blue route and Stanley the red one) and finally together (the purple route) after they had met. Click on each marker which will pop up for more details and greater insights. 

The story itself is based off of the book “Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone” by Martin Dugard who in turn built the story based off of the books and journals written by Stanley and Livingstone themselves. This story is intense, epic and an important artifact of 19th century exploration.


  • Map is better explored on a big screen
    • Click the "View Fullscreen" [  ] button on the map to toggle full screen mode


    Popular posts from this blog

    The map of the motorcycle diaries

    The Travels of Marco Polo