At the age of 67, adventurer David Lemon decided to do something which he had never been done before so he decided to walk the entire length of the Zambezi River. However, after eight months, 1,838km and a five stone weight loss, he has been forced to come home for a 15 month break. Kate Wilson reports.

DODGING crocodiles while he brushed his teeth, fighting off malaria carrying mosquitoes and eating a monkey and a rat were just some of the more unusual moments from David Lemon's journey along the banks of the Zambezi.

This is not the first time David, now 68, has attempted challenges which most of us would never even dream of - but for him it is all about doing something new.

"I called the National Geographic to make sure that no one else had ever walked the Zambezi before. No one had which made me certain that I had to do it," said the France Lynch based journalist and author.

David said the worst part of his mission to walk the length of Africa's fourth longest river were the crocodiles and the mosquitoes.

"I got malaria twice and in the end had to come home early because I had caught scurvy as well," he said.

The Zimbabwean born writer began the challenge in March last year but was forced to return to his home in France Lynch in December after walking for 184 days.

"I had lost over four and a half stone in weight, my heels were pouring blood and one of my boots had a hole in it, someone up there was definitely trying to tell me something," said David, a father of three.

There was still 1,200km to go before he reached the end of the river and David knew that there was no way he would make it.

"It was time to take a break, put some weight on and plan what my next move would be," he said. 

David will restart his walk on Easter Sunday 2014 - April 18 - which gives him just over a year to find food that is twice as nourishing and half as heavy.

"Each time I re-stocked my pack it weighed over 30 kilograms," said David who completed a 1,000km walk around the shoreline of Lake Kariba in 2007.

This adventure, like all his others, was largely motivated by his lifelong love of elephants.

In just the past month the world has witnessed two elephant atrocities that have sent shock waves through the international conservation community.

The nation watched as a baby elephant died of thirst in Sir David Attenborough's, Africa on BBC1.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, a gang of ten people killed a family of 12 elephants, and hacked off their tusks, in the biggest single mass shooting of the animals on record in Kenya.

"Through this walk I want to raise awareness of the difficulties facing elephants and the fact that they are at serious risk of being wiped out," said David, who was born in the small town of Kariba which is located close to the Kariba Dam near the Zambian border.

His upbringing in this secluded town in Zimbabwe allowed him to experience some of the wildest parts of Africa.

"When my parents wanted me to get out from under their feet, like most parents they would say go outside and play," he said.

"For me this meant going for walks in the bush and exploring some of Africa's most beautiful wildlife, including elephants.

"Sixty years on humans have expanded their habitat into elephant territory and these beautiful creatures are being slaughtered for their tusks and their meat.

"You have to remember that an elephant is four tonnes of meat and people in Africa are very hungry," said David, who had to eat a vervet monkey and a rat during his trip - called the Zambezi Cowbell Walk.

Cowbell Zambia Limited has sponsored David on his challenge to walk the Zambezi. It provided money, help and food Ð including Cowbell milk powder - and will continue to do so when David returns to Zambia in 14 months. 

David faced many dangers on his journey along the Zambezi which included having to wash in a river that is also home to thousands of crocodiles.

"I definitely don't miss having to pay attention when I went to brush my teeth," said David whose work as a freelance journalist in Zimbabwe has appeared in the Sunday Express.

David who misses the seclusion of the Zambezi is looking forward to getting back to the part of the world he still calls home and completing the final 1,200km of his journey.

"For now I am being kept busy at home by my wife Lace whilst trying to prepare myself for the second part of this challenge," he said.


Comic Relief Hell and High Water Challenge

The Zambezi has received plenty of publicity of late due to the six celebrities who took on the mighty river for Comic Relief.

Actress, Chelsee Healey, comedians Dara O'Briain and Jack Dee, singer Melanie C, Olympic silver medallist Phillips Idowu and radio presenter Greg James travelled 107km of the Zambezi River to raise £1 million for charity.

On the five day, Hell and High Water Challenge, crocodiles, hippos and mosquitoes were the biggest concerns for the group.

On day two of the challenge Dara O'Brian and Phillips Idowu had a scare when the raft crashed and Dara was left hanging off a tree for 40 minutes.