25-Mar-2006 -- For the six intrepid adventurers who visited this point, it was the first time anyone had intentionally sought out a Confluence. We had heard about the Degree Confluence Project from a colleague, who had himself recently posted a confluence visit further north in Sudan.
We hail from four different countries; from India we have Sean O’Brien, Lokesh Pai and Jatesh Ralli, Herby Peires is from Sri Lanka, and Damien Hodges from Australia. We were accompanied and ably assisted by Joseph (from Sudan), who also speaks the local languages. All of us are working with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), and have been based for different periods of time in Unity State.
To reach the Confluence, we travelled south along main roads for approx. 45 km from Bentiu (capital of Unity State). The main roads were a bit rough but wide and passable, being maintained to support the thriving local oil industry. From a previous reconnaissance, we knew that the closest the main road came to the confluence point was 4 km. At this point we spoke to members of a local village, in order to get some information about local conditions and any potential threats.
When we set off from the village for the 4 km trip to our destination, it quickly became apparent that we would not make as good time as we had hoped. The terrain, though largely flat to look at, was full of potholes that bounced us all over the place. We had to pass through areas of very high grass which significantly restricted visibility. After we had battled approximately two km in one hour, the scrubby trees became too thick to allow vehicle passage.
We decided to abandon the vehicles, and proceed the remaining 1.8 km on foot. As we bravely set forth, the temperature started to rise (it was quite a hot day), but we had plenty of water and initially made better time than we had in the vehicles. We passed through thick scrub, then long swathes of burnt out grass land. The last 500 m to the Confluence were the worst, as we had to force our way through thick, chest-high, dry grass, which concealed the uneven ground. We arrived at the Confluence about 45 minutes after we had left the vehicles.
After taking photos and having a look around, we decided to head back to escape the heat. Most importantly, we had an enjoyable picnic lunch at the vehicles before we packed up and headed for home.
It should be noted that visiting this Confluence by vehicle or on foot would not be possible in the wet season, which can start anytime April-July, though boats or other amphibious tracked vehicles may have better access. Note the long dry grass in the photos: when the wet season commences, this area will become very green, lush, and beautiful.