Before the age of imperialism and the great scramble for Africa, adventurous men of questionable character had to open the gates of the continent to Europeans. This is the story of the age of explorers in Africa. This episode is broken into two parts.

the age of explorers
John Hanning Speke found the source of the Nile River although it would not be confirmed until after his death.

In this episode, we look at the history of exploration in Africa, the importance of finding the source of the Nile and Niger rivers, and the struggles that many explorers endured to make inroads into the continent. While the coastlands were explored as far back as ancient Carthage and Egypt, the interior of the continent remained unexplored for outsiders. The name “the dark continent” originally came from the color of ancient maps and the dark spaces left on the continent for all that was unknown.

We will also look at some of the first famous European explorers of Africa.

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Find the other episodes of our History of Africa podcast series here.

The Scotsman Mungo Park died while searching for the source of the Niger River.
age of explorers
The explorer Richard Burton once took a javelin through both cheeks when attacked by tribesmen while he search for the source of the Nile.
age of explorers
René Caillié disguised himself in Arab clothing and became the first European to see Timbuktu.
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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at