A Briton has become the first person known to walk the entire length of the Amazon River. Ed Stafford took more than two years to walk 4,000 miles along the world’s longest river, starting out in the Peruvian Andes and ending his journey at Maruda beach on the coast of Brazil.
Accompanied much of the way by Peruvian forestry worker Gadiel “Cho” Sanchez Rivera, the former soldier survived on a diet of piranha fish, beans and rice while dodging pit vipers, electric eels, anaconda and scorpions.He was also imprisoned, chased by locals and wrongly accused of murder twice.
Since he started his journey at the summit of Nevado Mismi on April 2, 2008, he has also suffered an estimated 50,000 mosquito bites and hundreds of wasp stings.
Writing on his blog, the adventurer said: “The endurance, both mental and physical, has been the thing that’s been the most wearing.
“I’ve been quite humbled by how much I’ve had to rely on other people and I’ve benefited greatly from the generosity of the people I’ve met along the way. All the messages of support have kept me going – that and the desire to bring life in the Amazon to the wider world.”
Just 53 miles short of journey’s end, the former captain collapsed, he said: “I started to fall asleep again whilst walking – the sort of sensation you sometimes scare yourself with when driving utterly shattered. Whilst lying down at the side of the road I started to itch furiously. I began scratching frantically but the itching became maddening. I came out in a total body rash and was unable to walk or lie still. I feel slightly humbled that my system just decided to shut down so close to the finish.”
A few hours later Mr Stafford was back on track. “It’s unbelievable to be here!” he said as he walked into the sea. “It proves you can do anything – even if people say you cannot. I’ve proved that if you want something enough, you can do anything!”
The adventurer said he hoped his feat would raise awareness of the destruction of the Amazon rain forest but, he insisted, he was “no eco-warrior”.
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*Premium £20.82 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual aged under 36 taking out a ‘Standard’ Backpacker Worldwide excluding USA, Canada & Caribbean 24/7 travel insurance policy for 2 months. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (August 2010) and are subject to change.