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Two Americans First in History to Complete Full Descent of Nile River From Source to Sea

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.,, 28 April 2004 /PRNewswire/ -- - Explorers Survived Crocodile Attacks, Gunfire from Bandits, Capsizes in Rapids, Military Arrests, and Sandstorms on Their Quest to Descend the Nile; Epic Adventure to be the Focus of a Documentary Film for IMAX(R) Theaters

- Two Americans have made history by completing one of the last great adventures of the modern age -- the first complete descent of the Nile river from its source as the Blue Nile in Ethiopia to the shores of Alexandria where it spills into the Mediterranean Sea. Pasquale Scaturro of Colorado and Gordon Brown of California reached the mouth of the Nile on April 28, 114 days after launching their epic 3,250-mile journey.

This historic four-month expedition is sponsored by giant screen film production company MacGillivray Freeman Films (Everest) and Orbita Max of Spain, who are co-producing a documentary based on the expedition, "Mystery of the Nile," for release in IMAX(R) theaters in February 2005 (http://www.nilefilm.com/).

The expedition was led by Scaturro, a renowned adventurer and geophysicist best known for leading the successful 2001 Mt. Everest expedition that saw blind climber Erik Weihenmayer reach the summit. Accompanying him was Gordon Brown, an expert kayaker and adventure filmmaker. For four months, the two explorers and their local support crews traveled the river in two sixteen-foot inflatable rafts and a kayak, all the while filming their experiences with an IMAX camera and two digital video-cams.

"The Nile is the most magnificent river in the world," said Scaturro. "It has rapids, waterfalls, jungle, canyons, deserts, hippos, crocs, long flat beautiful sections, huge beautiful sandbars. There is no other river in the world that can compare. And no other river in the world is as closely associated with a particular culture and society as is the Nile. Without the Nile there would be no Egypt, no pharaohs, no pyramids. The history of the western world is inextricably tied to the Nile."

"This has been the adventure of a lifetime," added Brown. "We've met amazing people of all backgrounds on this expedition, which highlights how the Nile brings together people of different faiths and cultures, particularly Christians and Muslims. That will be a strong theme in the film, which we hope will have a landmark effect on connecting even more people together."

The expedition began its epic journey on Christmas Day 2003 at the river's source, the legendary Springs of Sakala high in the Ethiopian Highlands where the river is known as the Little Blue Nile. From there, the team launched its 3,250-mile journey down the world's greatest river. Their journey has taken them through the remote desert gorges of Ethiopia, through the arid plains of Sudan to Khartoum where the Blue Nile merges with the White Nile to form the Nile proper, through the port cities of Egypt, and on to the Mediterranean Sea.

"What Pasquale and Gordon have accomplished is nothing short of miraculous," said Greg MacGillivray, producer of "Mystery of the Nile." "The Blue Nile is known as the Mt. Everest of rivers. Many explorers have tried to run the entire Nile, but all have failed. These guys had to overcome enormous hurdles -- suicidal rapids, croc attacks, malaria, they've even been shot at by local bandits and arrested by the military. It reminds me of the almost insurmountable challenges our Everest film team faced in 1996. Their determination to reach their destination was truly remarkable. At a time when the turmoil in the Middle East dominates the news, theirs is an uplifting human-interest story of epic proportions -- one that we hope will bring people of all cultures closer together."

In the mid-19th century the great geographical quest was to be the first to trek to the source of the Nile: it consumed the great explorers of the age from David Livingstone to Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. Once the source was discovered, the next great quest was to navigate the entire Blue Nile in one single uninterrupted expedition. Over the last century, many explorers have attempted to run the Blue Nile, but none has succeeded. At least a dozen men have died while trying. Since 1964, three explorers have been shot, two drowned, and another simply disappeared.

To reach their destination, Scaturro and Brown have overcome a daunting series of challenges, including the treacherous Class V and VI rapids of the upper Blue Nile where two capsizes forced one team member to quit the expedition; deadly crocodiles and hippos (a crocodile attacked Brown's kayak); arrests by Ethiopian and Egyptian militia; gunfire from Sudanese bandits; extreme temperatures; violent sandstorms; and exposure to malaria -- all while attempting to film the journey's events with the over-sized IMAX camera.

"What is especially remarkable about Pasquale and Gordon's journey is how little outside help they had," noted Richard Bangs, an expert river guide and author of "The Lost River: A Memoir of Life, Death and the Transformation of Wild Water." "They have descended the river's entire course under their own power, portaging the rafts only around the river's four major dams. They have had to supply their own food, service their own equipment, manage the border crossings, and basically survive by their own skills. This is as pure and authentic an expedition without outside interference as you can ever hope to witness."

Detailed expedition dispatches can be found at Scaturro's website http://www.pvsnet.com/ or at http://www.nilefile.com/. Photos available upon request.

"Mystery of the Nile" is being produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films (http://www.macfreefilms.com/), producers of "Everest," the highest grossing documentary in history, and Orbita Max (http://www.orbitamax.com/) of Spain.

SOURCE MacGillivray Freeman Films



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