This is an account of the African Rainbow Equatorial Expedition which achieved the first-known crossing of Africa by boat, navigating an often hazardous and uncharted course through the waterways which lie between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is a travel story which gives a personal portrait of the African continent. Led by the explorer Lorenzo Ricciardi and his wife Mirella, a photographer, the expedition set out in November 1985 and travelled 6,000 kilometres from the Rufiji River delta in Tanzania, through the unexplored Kilombero Valley, across Lakes Malawi, Rukwa and Tanganyika, finally reaching the mouth of the Zaire on the Atlantic coast 20 months later. The story, told both by Lorenzo and Mirella Ricciardi and illustrated with Mirella's photographs, highlights the dangers, triumphs and joys of the journey as well as many controversial issues in Africa today, particularly those of ecology and conservation, such as the plight of the mountain gorilla and the chimpanzee, the poaching of game in Tanzania's Selous National Park and the felling of huge areas of rainforest in Zaire.
Encounters with white water rapids, hippopotami, crocodiles and elephants, sleeping sickness, poachers, fishermen and villagers are recounted. In addition to a description of the landscape, the book focuses on how Africans live and some effects of independence, with the aim of giving an insight into the places and people of Africa today. The authors also describe their meetings with some of the best-known "Africanists" such as George Adamson, Richard Leakey, Maurice Kraft, Citoyen Mushenzi and Jane Goodall. Above all "African Rainbow" is a cry for action to stop environmental destruction in Africa and elsewhere and to this end Lorenzo Ricciardi plans to call for a United Nations for Conservation. A television film is planned to tie in with the publication of this book. Mirella Ricciardi has also written "Vanishing Africa".