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 www.bigriverman.com) and an incredibly tough Englishman, Ed Stafford, walk its entire length - a feat described as impossible (www.walkingtheamazon.com)!
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..