HE CAUGHT malaria three times, had to dodge crocodiles while bathing and walked the last 60km with his legs covered in bandages from ulcers, but adventurer David Lemon has become the first person to walk the length of the Zambezi River.

David, who lives in France Lynch with his wife, reached Chinde in Mozambique on Sunday, September 7, after a combined total of 292 days of walking.

The Zimbabwe-born journalist and author began his journey along Africa’s fourth longest river in March 2012 – completing a distance of 3,200km.

“I started off saying I wanted to do something that had never been done before,” said David, who has three children and six grandchildren.

“It took a while to sink in that I’d actually done it but now it’s one of my proudest achievements.”

However, for David, who turned 70 a few weeks ago, there were moments along the journey where he felt he would never finish.

“Possibly the most difficult part of my Zambezi Walk was the last 60 kilometres,” added David.

“This took me a week and was through the swamps of the Zambezi Delta.

“Every step meant sinking, sometimes shin-deep into thick, smelly mud and brought dense clouds of mosquitoes swarming around my face and every bit of exposed skin.

“It rained all the time so that my clothing was permanently soaked and the tiny track I was following led me through literally hundreds of graves.

“When I asked locals what the people had died from, they told me malaria, so that was not encouraging.”

David had his own run-in with malaria, not once but three times – the most serious resulting in him being airlifted back to Johannesburg for three weeks’ respite.

“I was told I wouldn’t make it back to the river to finish the trek but I knew I had to complete it after everything I had been through,” he added.

The experience hasn’t put him off as he says he would do it again – and is even thinking of walking back for his next big challenge.