Ed Stafford became the first man to walk the length of the Amazon river in South America from the source to the sea. He walked for:
He started on 2nd April 2008 and finished in August 2010. No-one had ever done what he attempted.
To create an adventure so exciting that it can be used to make people feel that they have a connection to the Amazon, its wonders and its problems, by being the first man ever to walk the entire length of the Amazon River.
Walking the Amazon is not an eco-warrior campaign against deforestation or an activist project for indigenous peoples’ rights. It is a world-first expedition, first and foremost, and it is designed to draw attention to the complexities of the Amazon rainforest.
Ed is an expedition leader and writer by profession – he reports what he sees and what he is affected by. He is personally passionate about stopping deforestation but is of the opinion that to get people to listen, we need to enthuse and inspire them that the Amazon is worth worrying about, rather than forcing arguments down the throats of those that don’t care.
So the focus is on creating an adventure so exciting that it can suck people into the Amazon so that they can see it, touch it, smell it and know it. Essentially the more people that care about the Amazon the better.
To Ed an expedition just for the adventure is futile. Ed was introduced to expeditions when he led for former charity Trekforce Expeditions and their slogan at the time was “adventure with a purpose“. Ed is carrying this forward and uses his adventures to help raise people’s awareness for current environmental issues.
This page replaces the “Voice from the Amazon” page as the former project was deemed to have ran its course.
No. Ed started the expedition with a fellow expedition leader, Luke Collier. Luke left the expedition after 3 months. Ed has since walked with hundreds of local people, one of them, Gadiel (“Cho”) Sanchez Rivera, has become a long-term companion and close friend to Ed and is committed as he is to reach the mouth of the Amazon.
Absolutely. Ed supports five very worthy charities that can be read about on the charities page
The hope is that by using technology that was impossible only a few years ago, Ed can create an adventure so exciting to follow on the Internet that schools will be able to use the interest that this generates to explain the different pressures in the Amazon that surround the issue of deforestation, and on the wider scale, climate change.
The Earth’s climate has always changed naturally over time. For example, variability in our planet’s orbit alters its distance from the Sun, which has given rise to major Ice Ages and intervening warmer periods. According to the last IPCC report, it is more than 90% probable that humankind is largely responsible for modern-day climate change.
The principal cause is burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. This produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which – added to the CO2 present naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere – acts as a kind of blanket, trapping more of the Sun’s energy and warming the Earth’s surface. Deforestation and processes that release other greenhouse gases such as methane also contribute.
Although the initial impact is a rise in average temperatures around the world – “global warming” – this also produces changes in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, changes to the difference in temperatures between night and day, and so on. This more complex set of disturbances has acquired the label “climate change” – sometimes more accurately called “anthropogenic (human-made) climate change”.
See BBC article “A brief history of climate change“.
Ed is a supporter of the Prince Rainforests Project and has recorded a message of support for them. He invites anyone who is inspired to physically to act to stop deforestation to go to the Prince’s website and add your name. The project ran up until the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference 2009. Ed still writes a fortnightly blog for their schools site which continued.
Rainforest Concern is the charity that Ed chose to represent his concerns about the Amazon and he encourages people to donate to them. The charity is intrinsic to the essence of the journey and helps to protect threatened areas of land within the Amazon Basin. Rainforest Concern was established as a registered charity in 1993 to protect the world’s tropical rainforests.
No. Surprisingly, only a handful of people have ever traveled the entire journey from the source of the Amazon to the massive mouth and maze-like delta. This is partly because up until the second half of the twentieth century, no one was certain where the source actually was. Before aerial mapping in the 1950s, the Marañón River system in northern Peru was considered the source of the Amazon.
Recent topographical maps created by Peru’s Instituto Geográfico Militar, however, show that the Apurimac River system is now the longest Amazon tributary. Now that the true source has been found, walking from the source to the sea is one of the remaining great feats of exploration.
Ed is attempting to cross the whole of South America from Camana (on the Pacific coast of Peru) to the mouth of the Amazon River (on the Atlantic coast of Brazil) via the course of the longest source of the Amazon River. Ed walked up the Colca Canyon to get himself to the recognised furthest source of the Amazon on Nevado Mismi. From there, the rivers he followed were the Apurimac, Ene, Tambo, Ucayali, Peruvian and Colombian Amazonas, Solimões, and the Brazilian Amazonas.
The expedition will follow the general course of the rivers mentioned above from source to sea. Much of the river adjacent to the main channel is flooded (Varzea) forest for large parts of the year. Ed will seek high ground in order to continue walking and it is acknowledged that this could take the team over 100 kilometres from the main river channel.
Ed will not leave the three countries of Peru, Colombia and Brazil during the attempt unless there is a medical situation that threatens loss of life, limb or sense; OR there is a legal requirement for him to leave.
Just that. No form of transport of any kind may be used to assist with Ed’s advance on land – he has to walk, stumble or crawl every inch of the journey. [Rules for crossing water are outlined below.]
Whether its ox-bow lakes, tributaries (some over ten miles wide), flooded forest over head height, or the main channel of the river itself, there are many water obstacles that have to be crossed. If the distance is short Ed can swim. All kit is 100% waterproof and, as at March 2009, the team is swimming across about five rivers a day and regularly wading through flooded forest.
If the water obstacle is too wide or too fast flowing to swim, Ed can use dug-out canoes, the inflatable pack-rafts that the team are carrying, or any other hand-paddled craft to cross areas where the water makes it impossible to go forward on foot. All man-powered – no sails or engines.
Sometimes we’ve needed to cross the main channel. To avoid accusations that Ed is navigating any part of the river by boat, if the main channel of the river is crossed in a hand-paddled craft, Ed has to return to the point perpendicular to the point where he entered the water on the other side, and continue walking from there. This rule is designed to stop any use of the river’s flow to advance Ed in a craft.
As the expedition has no external support team in country it has to conduct its own resupplies and organise its own logistics. If Ed needs to conduct a side trip to a settlement or town for any reason he may do so by motorised vehicle (boat, plane or wheeled vehicle) as long as he returns to the exact location where he finished walking to resume the advance on foot. This transportation is classed as external to the expedition as it does not physically advance Ed towards the Atlantic. The team may use any means to send equipment or supplies from any one location to any other.
Since 1970 there have been six expeditions that have successfully navigated the Amazon from source to sea using a combination of rafts, kayaks and boats:
As much as the above expeditions are inspirational and motivating, they have highlighted that the Amazon basin still has one final expedition that has yet to be achieved. No-one has ever walked from source to sea.