More than six decades after it appeared as the titular steam launch in the silver-screen classic The African Queen, the nine-meter riverboat is afloat once more in the waters of the Nile. New Zealander Cam McLeay, owner of Ugandaâ€™s Wildwaters Lodge as well as a whitewater-rafting company called Adrift, bought the rusting vessel three years ago from its previous owner, who had discovered it in 1984 in Murchison Falls National Park, one of the filmâ€™s shooting locations. McLeay and fellow Kiwi engineer Gavin Fahey have since returned the African Queen to ship-shape order, and she now looks much as she did when Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn were aboard in 1950. There were at least two boats used in the making of the movie, one of which was restored in the 1980s in Florida, where itÂ remains a tourist attraction. â€śBut the fundamental difference is that ours has never left Africa, and is powered by a genuine steam-engine and not a diesel,â€ť McLeay says. Based at riverside Wildwaters Lodge near Jinja, the African Queen is now available for two-hour excursions that take in quintessential Nile scenery and wildlife. â€“David Tse
This article originally appeared in theÂ April/May 2014Â print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śFull Steam Aheadâ€ť).