Saturday, 22 December 2012

Escaped the harsh UK Winter for a break with the family in Brazil and in training on a 10'8'' Red Paddle board on the River and beach at Itamambuca. This beach in Sao Paolo State, Brazil, is one of my favourite places... beautiful surf, sand and a backdrop of the Mata Atlantica, or Eastern Atlantic Rainforest. It is here that I was inspired to take up conservation as a career path - this forest is one of three large forest blocks in South America (the others are the Amazon and the NW Forest blocks). The Mata Atlantica is one of the most degraded forest systems as this is where the Portuguese first colonised and began exploiting the natural resources - from wood to gold and through a number of agricultural cycles that included coffee. This region at the coast is now protected and a splendid legacy of the conservation movement although it still faces threats from expanding urbanisation around coastal cities.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Now dreaming of the adventure waiting over 4000 miles away from a cold Autumnal England.. paddling the river that forms the arteries of the greatest forest on the planet, holding still uncontacted tribes and myriad of undescribed species. Also starting to contemplate the realities of paddling this huge river in the company of giant otters, the sound of the paddle merging with the noise of the jungle, and in the company of giant fish, river dolphins, the largest snake on the planet....

The river has always attracted missionaries, mercenaries and madmen... those wanting to test themselves against nature at its most glorious or discover some hidden treasure, spiritual or material.

In recent years the incredible 'Big river man' swam the length of the Amazon, suffering disease and exhaustion and borderline insanity (One of the best documentaries I have ever seen and an incredibly tough Englishman, Ed Stafford, walk its entire length - a feat described as impossible (

Well so far no-one to our knowledge has used an inflatable stand up paddle board and this is the task we face in 2013! 

But lets take it slow... first a bit of historical context....

The first European to descend the Amazon in 1492, Francisco Orellana, was motivated by the search of wealth and myth of ‘El Dourado’ - the Golden Man. This expedition will retrace part of his voyage from Ecuador, down the Napo, to the Amazon in Brazil. What he brought back were stories of giant woman warriors - the Amazons from Greek mythology that led to the rivers name today.

He also reported huge cities that lined the banks of the river... yet when Europeans returned some 50 years after him they only found forest and small tribes. Until recently most people thought that he had lied to justify further expedition funding but recent evidence is now showing that he was right and this could lead to a solution to sustainable agriculture in the tropics ... if you want to find out more about this watch this incredible Horizon programme about the real El Dourado of the Amazon River....The Secret of El Dourado

The Amazon gives its secrets up slowly, and its history still remains a mystery.. it is still the largest and most magnificent forest/river system in the world, with a species list that is still uncatalogued. It has been estimated that if we continue to identify species in Brazil at current rates it will take about 1000 years to name them all. Sadly we are losing species before they can even be identified.... OK, more on the biodiversity and the threats they face in days to come.

In this blog I am going to come to terms with the people, wildlife and plants we will face one by one by introducing them in detail .... from the various indigenous groups that still carve out a life that could be seen as the antithesis of our unsustainable, individualistic cultures to the big mammals, such as the Jaguar to the really dangerous little stuff... amoebas and bacteria...

.. enough for the day... watch the Secret of El Dourado.. it will change your perception of wilderness and the Amazonian tribes..

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Amazon River holds a particularly strong hold on my imagination and I have wanted to plan a descent of it for years. In 2012 I visited the main body of the Amazon River for the first time, on a project investigating the illegal trade in wildlife, and decided that it was now or never. Call this day 1 of 'the madness' but we will descend the Napo from Ecuador at Tena to Tabatinga in Brazil using inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP's).

Our partners in this venture are the Red Paddle Co. ( who will be supporting this expedition and proving that their cutting edge inflatable expedition SUP's can take on the ultimate challenge!

Ok... here goes!! oh... & thanks for the dreamboard idea Jade!