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John Hanning Speke was an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile.

In 1844 he was commissioned into the British army and posted to India, where he served under Sir Colin Campbell during the First Anglo-Sikh War. He spent his leave exploring the Himalayan Mountains and Mount Everest and once crossed into Tibet.

In 1854 he made his first voyage to Africa, joining an expedition to Somalia led by the already famous Richard Burton. The expedition did not go well. The party was attacked and Burton and Speke were both severely wounded. Speke was captured and stabbed several times with spears before he was able to free himself and escape. Burton escaped with a javelin impaling both cheeks. Speke returned to England to recover and then served in the Crimean War.

In 1856, Speke and Burton went to East Africa to find the Great Lakes, which were rumoured to exist in the centre of the continent. It was hoped that the expedition would locate the source of the Nile. The journey was extremely strenuous and both men fell ill from a variety of tropical diseases. Speke suffered severely when he became temporarily deaf after a beetle crawled into his ear and he tried to remove it with a knife. He also later went temporarily blind. After an arduous journey, the two became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika (although Speke was still blind at this point and could not properly see the lake). They heard of a second lake in the area, but Burton was too sick to make the trip. Speke thus went alone, and found the lake, which he christened Lake Victoria. It was this lake that eventually proved to be the source of the River Nile.

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John Hanning Speke was an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile.

In 1844 he was commissioned into the British army and posted to India, where he served under Sir Colin Campbell during the First Anglo-Sikh War. He spent his leave exploring the Himalayan Mountains and Mount Everest and once crossed into Tibet.

In 1854 he made his first voyage to Africa, joining an expedition to Somalia led by the already famous Richard Burton. The expedition did not go well. The party was attacked and Burton and Speke were both severely wounded. Speke was captured and stabbed several times with spears before he was able to free himself and escape. Burton escaped with a javelin impaling both cheeks. Speke returned to England to recover and then served in the Crimean War.

In 1856, Speke and Burton went to East Africa to find the Great Lakes, which were rumoured to exist in the centre of the continent. It was hoped that the expedition would locate the source of the Nile. The journey was extremely strenuous and both men fell ill from a variety of tropical diseases. Speke suffered severely when he became temporarily deaf after a beetle crawled into his ear and he tried to remove it with a knife. He also later went temporarily blind. After an arduous journey, the two became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika (although Speke was still blind at this point and could not properly see the lake). They heard of a second lake in the area, but Burton was too sick to make the trip. Speke thus went alone, and found the lake, which he christened Lake Victoria. It was this lake that eventually proved to be the source of the River Nile. More...

 
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