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The Africa Special is a Top Gear special in which Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May attempt to find the true source of the River Nile in secondhand estate cars on a budget. It was the first special in Top Gear history to be split into two parts and air across two episodes, airing as the sixth and seventh episodes in the nineteenth series. The team traveled through Central Africa to achieve this goal, starting in Uganda and traveling through Rwanda to reach their final destination in Tanzania. The special was originally slated as a Christmas Special for 2012 and was filmed in the same year, however it was pushed back and aired in 2013 instead.


Image Vehicle Driver
Subaru Impreza.jpg
Subaru Impreza WRX Estate Richard Hammond
Volvo 850R.jpg
Volvo 850R James May
BMW 5 Series.jpg
BMW 528i Touring Jeremy Clarkson

Part 1

The first part of the Africa Special aired on the 3rd of March, 2013. It was the 154th episode overall.

Jeremy was the first to arrive at the meeting point in a village in rural Uganda. Jeremy's choice of car was a BMW 528i Touring and he talked about the tires, the back tires are made by a company he never heard of. Richard soon arrives in a Subaru Impreza WRX Estate and they talk about how his age, that he doesn't have grey hair and the way he was dressed. James arrived last in a Volvo 850R, with very low-profile tires that the other two mock thinking they are not tires at all. They soon start arguing until their first challenge arrived by a producer. To find the true source of the River Nile. As they drive off, James scratches his front bumper on his Volvo. Jeremy explained about the River Nile but soon apologizes for interrupting himself as they soon faced a problem. They have ended up at Lake Victoria, which was named the true source of the River Nile for years.

As they argued about the time, a producer gave Richard a letter saying Lake Victoria isn't the true source and that Lake Victoria is fed by many rivers, one of which is the true source. They check their map and see that Burundi or Rwanda are possible sources. So to determine the lakes are joined, they make their way to the lakes. During their drive in Uganda and talking about the cars, police cars pass the trio and Jeremy explains a few rules about Uganda: "Number one, if you're a male homosexual and you indulge in your homosexuality, it's life imprisonment. That's very important to know. Also, it is compulsory here for motorcyclists to wear crash helmets, unless you are a woman on her way back from the hairdressers. Then you are allowed to wear a carrier bag on your head instead." Jeremy laughingly promises the carrier bag on head thing is true.

As they keep driving, the producers tell them to stop at the still bullet-scarred Entebbe Airport. In 1976, Israeli special forces staged a daring operation to rescue passengers from a hijacked airline. As they make their way up to the balcony, they see a Ford Scorpio Ghia Estate and discover it is the back-up car. As they try to leave, Jeremy's BMW's throttle suddenly fails. After getting them fixed (which didn't really work) by gently knocking the engine bits with a hammer, they make their way to the lakes but soon end up in Uganda's capital city, Kampala. In Kampala, they get stuck in a very big traffic jam. While waiting in the jam, Jeremy buys a basket full of bananas and was amazed at how the woman would carry that much weight on her head.

It took all night to try and get through the traffic jam and along the way and buying breakfast, they finally get out of the jam and get onto Chinese-made roads. They soon end up in Jezza (which coincidentally shares its name with Jeremy's nickname) and stop for a while. In an attempt to make sure the Impreza isn't big enough, the boys buy Richard a gift (a chair). As Richard puts the chair in, they still talk about Richard's hair and age. After getting the gift (partly) inside, they leave Jezza and end up on a road of speed bumps. James and Jeremy are sick of it but since Richard's car is lighter and 4 wheel drive, he feels fine from it. Many miles later, they end up in a town with a hotel while it was raining. Being disgusted by the rooms, Jeremy has Richard stay in Room 2 while Jeremy had a room for himself. But soon, he sees his bed has feces on the mattress, causing Jeremy to yell at Richard from his room.

The next morning, desperate to redeem himself, Richard called for an emergency breakfast meeting, during which they threaten to kill him, and says they should turn their cars into mobile homes. They soon split up and get stuff to turn their cars into mobile homes. During their supply purchasing, Richard nearly causes a motorbike to crash but backs away very quickly, Jeremy's white cotton material gets dirty when he tries to balance it on his head but it falls off, causing nearby women to laugh at him.

After purchasing the stuff and modifying them, they unveil their cars. Richard turned his Impreza into a small kitchen and has a mattress with leopard skin blankets and had placed his chair on the roof of his car (as his upstairs sitting room), James has turned his Volvo into a library and workshop and has a cot, used by the army, which the blankets that might itch and Jeremy added a toilet seat, working shower and fridge (the fridge runs off the cigarette lighter) and his boot door's automatic release is broken so he has to do it manually, he also bought a coffin to put his stuff in while sleeping in an Egyptian cotton sheeted bed. But Jeremy's car won't start because the fridge had murdered the battery and they wait until it has revived to continue on.

Along the way, Jeremy discovers that when he brakes, his curtain shuts. Continuing on, Jeremy reveals that, like in Botswana, the cameramen have trouble when not filming cars. Upon seeing an elephant and telling Jeremy about it, he and James insult an old TV show that Richard hosted and Richard keeps telling them to shut up. They make it to Lake Edward and stop for the night. During the drive, Richard's kitchen was made a mess but he cleans it up and James' bed was soon out of alignment but he fixes it. As they watch the sun go down while sipping Jeremy's beer from his fridge, Richard cooks dinner, which is baked beans and they soon turn in for the night.

The next morning, Jeremy was forced to eat beans again for breakfast and his car had to be mended again, they talk about the map and soon before they leave, they pretend to write a letter to Richard's wife and soon drive off, but along the way, James lost his skid plate. Continuing on, James had to stop as his back gave him a lot of pain, not wanting to waste time, Richard and Jeremy leave him behind and Richard pretends to write a letter to James' mother and lies, saying that he wrestled a lion. Richard and Jeremy look at the lakes and see they go east, along the way, "Captain Backache" caught up and they resumed the lake directions. Upon seeing the last one is going southeast, they scrap the theory about the lakes being connected, that night at camp, Jeremy calls James and Richard over to him, with Richard accidentally leaving his pot unattended, they look at the maps further.

The next morning, while the crew were waiting to use Jeremy's toilet, Richard cooked breakfast and 'accidentally' sets fire to a sock and James fits on a piece of scrap metal to replace his skid plate. Seeing too much feces from the side of his car, Jeremy yells in his megaphone that he refuses to have anyone use his car as a toilet anymore. James reveals he stole a piece of Jeremy's door to replace the skid plate and it is working well. Along the way, Jeremy and James pretend they are stuck and Richard stops and Jeremy soon accelerates, causing mud on Richard's windshield. Despite that trap, they keep going to the border of Rwanda, with Jeremy's megaphone playing Toto's Africa.

They soon come up to a muddy path which is a problem for James and Jeremy's cars as they are heavier but Richard's is easy. Then all of a sudden James' car gets stuck and Richard comes back to help. But while helping him, a branch breaks off and smashes into Jeremy's car, cracking the wind shield. As Richard pulls James free, Jeremy lectures to a few locals, who came and saw the whole thing, on his theories of off-road driving. Jeremy's car soon gets stuck and the locals help him out and "build" a new road while Richard worries about them being bare-footed. After giving them a reward for helping before soon discovering they were Ugandan army trainees, Jeremy continues on with the others and along the way, James or Jeremy get stuck and Richard had to help them out.

Then, Jeremy finally notices the door was ripped and he first asked Richard about it, but he reminds him who has the tools and Jeremy soon finds out. James. While heading over to question him, Jeremy finds his door piece was used to replace James' skid plate and refuses to help him out of a ditch. Despite the anger, they manage to get out and Jeremy couldn't stop because his handbrake was now jammed and there was 500 miles to go.

Part 2

The second part of the Africa Special aired on the 10th of March, 2013. It was the 155th episode overall.

As dawn drove on, James’ yelling ruins the quiet and peaceful morning. Jeremy had stolen a big piece of James' bonnet to fix the hole in his door. As well as 'fixing' the door, Jeremy added a log, tied to the back of his car for a new handbrake. As they drive along, Richard says the theft wasn't a proper job. James angrily says the job left it very hard and that it like it was done with a knife and fork by the Council, not square, not neat, waste of material, left sharp edges and all bent. He doesn't mind the bonnet stolen but yells at the "Ham-fisted oaf" for not having the right tools, Jeremy couldn't find any and James reminds him the back of his Volvo is filled with tools, calling him a tool and gives him a lecture about tin snips. Hearing enough, Jeremy hangs up and upon getting to a up-hill stretch, Jeremy rolls out his log and tries his new handbrake which works well, but forgot to roll it up as it dangles along the road. As they talk about hoping to see a gorilla, the dangling log soon shot up and breaks Jeremy's back window. They are soon forced to pick up the glass shards so the locals don't get cuts on their bare feet and after cleaning up the mess, they keep going through the amazing view of the mountains.

Along the way, James comments that he is hungry and they manage to get onto Chinese built roads. 50 miles later, they reach the border to Rwanda. Along the way, since they drive on the other side in Rwanda, Richard and Jeremy are on the right side of the road while James remains left, thinking it is a prank, until an upcoming car makes him turn to the right, causing Jeremy and Richard to laugh. While continuing on Chinese tarmac, they pass some waving Africans and the trio wave back. After many miles of waving, they end up on the other side of Rwanda and its border with Tanzania. Because they were bored at doing the immigration paperwork, James and Jeremy messed with Richard's 'SUBARU' sign and changed it to 'U ARSE'.

They soon make camp and James was still mad about his bonnet and has to find a replacement. Jeremy is still mad about his broken window as he managed to get up to 18 million pieces of his glass and wishes it broke in four rather than 19 million as it goes everywhere. While Richard cooked dinner, Jeremy measured his back window and thinks of something. The next morning, James explains that he found another piece of scrap metal and mended his bonnet. Richard's bonnet. Richard was angry when James stole it and decided to steal Jeremy's toilet seat to fix his bonnet and calls the bonnet, the 'Poop Scoop'. Jeremy was angry about losing the seat but stole Richard's back window and gave the back of Richard's window some cardboard, which causes some problems and Richard crashes into a ditch. (His car being pulled out wasn't seen). As they make their way, they soon come across a river. In an attempt to find a bridge, Jeremy unveils his invention, the ARU (Aerial Reconnaissance Unit). Jeremy built it at home weeks before and had Richard pilot it since he had a helicopter license while James looks at the camera and Jeremy controls it. After finding no bridge, they decide to make a raft out of wood, rope and oil drums like the one on the Albanian Road Trip so they can avoid the crocodiles. While getting rope, Jeremy steals the rope from Richard's chair.

After it was made, Jeremy's BMW was first and they managed to get that to the other side. Richard's Subaru was next and he chose to reverse in so that the BMW could tow it off and they set off but, the trio get on the left side, sinking the raft a little and they ask Richard to get in his sitting room, but as Richard lays a hand on the chair, it falls off and Jeremy confesses he stole the rope as they needed it for the raft and decided to go on the other side. Forced to forget about the chair, Richard soon notices someone grabbing it and just exclaims 'Enjoy it!' After they get to the other side, Richard's car soon gets stuck while reversing out and Jeremy pulls him in and plans on using his car to pull the raft, holding James' car. Since the Volvo is too heavy, the raft nearly sinks and Jeremy drags the raft, using his car and nearly sinks it in the river. After getting it to the other side and being shouted at by Richard and James, he drinks some Coke Zero.

After the Volvo gets to the end, they talk as the producers try to get the Ford onto the raft, but since it wasn't secure, it sends the car into the river, much to the trio's amusement and decided to leave them to clear up their mess. As they drive on, the roads they were on, weren't built by the Chinese. There are potholes everywhere and all of a sudden, James hit a pothole so hard that two of his tires were burst. They decide to leave him behind since their back up car is in the river and there is spare wheels on their support truck. While James took them out, he discovered it was more than tire damage. The wheels had shattered and after raiding the support truck for two more, James manages to catch up with Richard and Jeremy and as they drive in the night, they get caught in a swarm of lake flies, telling them, they were close to Lake Victoria.

At 150 miles, it was too big to make another raft, so they take a ferry, with the lake flies still annoying them. 16 hours later, having to have spent the night on the ferry, they stop at River Gramety where Richard decided to show the locals his car, but as he drives into the sand, it gets stuck. Forced to leave him, they get off at a proper jetty and back at the beach, Richard had to get the locals to help him out and after getting out, he had to try and repay them and soon ended up losing his lunch to them. Richard soon managed to rejoin the others (but in reality he rejoined them instantaneously as the jetty was 10 feet away) and they kept going. James had installed a fan for clean air. They come across a site and look at the map and they think of going 70 more miles and that one source is off road. They soon drive along the Serengeti, animals that the cameramen couldn't properly hold their own cameras again. Jeremy soon sees a zebra and decided to insult Richard's old TV program again and Richard tells him to shut up.

As they stop to look at the course of their lake, they see some American tourists and after a few minutes of mocking them, they leave and nothing was left to see, except hippos and they continued on for the last few miles of their journey. As they continued on, they stop and find which is the best car and Richard and Jeremy know theirs wasn't the best and Jeremy says that they are all best. When separate from the others, they each claim that their own car is the best like primary school sports days. Richard refers to the BMW as "The Fat Kid", the Volvo as 'The Geeky Specky Nerdy Kid' and his own Subaru "The Genuinely Sporty Kid" also finished and finished well. James claims that his Volvo is the best car because it's compromised as it's a family estate pretending to be a BTCC racecar and Jeremy says that the BMW is the best because the Volvo has 'been like a seal' and it broke James's back and Richard's Subaru to be needlessly complicated and the BMW is the familiarity of home in a car as it's a car, a sitting room, a fridge, a bed, a power station that charges up Jeremy's phone every night, etc. They then reach the Serengeti and a very rough road, which Jeremy describes as a true "car-killer".

One of Jeremy's airbags had been deployed and then Richard had two punctures, so did Jeremy and James too, but Richard suffers the worst damage when the lower control arm, which was rusted to begin with, finally snaps apart. He had to try and fix it as the Ford back-up car was no longer available. Jeremy and James discuss what happened to their cars on the road whilst Richard attempts to mend his Subaru. Jeremy and James decide that the fairest way to determine who 'gets their name in the history books' as the discoverer of the true source of the Nile is to have a race from their current position to the source. They wait at the start line and await the arrival of Richard with or without his Subaru. When Richard does eventually arrive, Jeremy and James are disappointed with the fact that he had indeed managed to mend his car; they fill him in on their race plans. The three line up on the start line and are given the signal to race by Jeremy.

Richard and James race off while, weirdly, Jeremy drives cautiously his rationale being that he has afraid of getting a puncture. Further up the road James and Richard battle for the lead with neither being the leader for a long period of time. Eventually, Jeremy 'reverts to type' and catches Richard and James up; all three are then forced off-road onto the Tanzanian savanna to look for the source of the Nile. All three then employ different tactics to find the source of the Nile but eventually they all determine that the source of the Nile should be in a field of boulders at the summit of a nearby hill. The three battle it out on their way to the top with Richard and James ramming each other and Jeremy attempting to use the music of Genesis to deter Richard. As they are near the top the rear control arm on James's Volvo snaps and he is forced to pull over and run into the boulder field. Shortly after, Jeremy and Richard follow suit, ditching their cars and running into the boulders.

The presenters beside the source of the Nile in Tanzania

Now in the approximate area of the source of the Nile, the three presenters are forced to use their reasoning and logic to determine the source of the Nile. All three quickly discover marks in the ground which they realize marks the existence of a stream. Richard and Jeremy both race to the top of the hill, following the stream up to the top. James meanwhile decides that the stream does not have to start at the top and starts walking downwards. While Jeremy attempts to chase Richard down, James discovers a small hole in the ground near a series of puddles.

After calling his comrades over, the three declare that they have found the source of the Nile and, as he is the first to find it, James is the official discoverer of the Nile. After pitching a Union Jack and a flag for Top Gear in the surrounding soil the team pose for a photograph by their discovery. The film cuts to the still taken by the camera, the caption reads "James May. Discoverer of the true source of the Nile, and two other blokes".


Africa Special/Quotes

During the raft build in Part 2, the A-Team theme played in an African sort of sound.

The credits roll in Part 2 had each member of the crew had their name altered with each displaying their surname with "Dr." before and ", I Presume?" afterwards (such as "Dr. Jeremy, I Presume?" and so forth). Presumably as a reference to "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?"

Damages to the trio's cars

Jeremy's BMW: Throttle was sticky before the trip, piece of the left door was stolen by James for a new skid plate, brake jammed so he fitted a log which later broke his back window, toilet seat stolen by Richard to mend his bonnet, airbag deployed on sharp stone roads, BMW badge stolen by James and replaced with Volvo badge.

Richard's Subaru: His 'Subaru' sign was vandalised by James and Jeremy and turned into 'U ARSE', James later stole his bonnet to mend his own, Jeremy stole his back window and replaced it with cardboard, lower control arm, which was rusted to begin with, finally snaps apart.

James' Volvo: Skid plate lost during drive, Jeremy stole part of his bonnet to fix his door, but did a very improperly theft, mud sheet comes off, control arm snaps before he discovered the true source of the Nile. Volvo badge stolen by Jeremy in return for James stealing his BMW badge.