When I visited the Amazon earlier this year, I lasted about twenty minutes on its shore. It’s sweltering, oven-hot, mosquitos seem to travel in packs, and there’s about a dozen other insects that have the potential to cause serious harm flitting about. My visit was also marked the first time I had to keep a strong lookout for the poison dart frog, which is about the size of a thumbnail and can instantly kill you. So I give major props to British explorer Ed Stafford, who trekked along the entire Amazon River, a feat that’s never been accomplished. At 4,000 miles, it took him over two years.
The hike started at Camana, Peru on April 2, 2008, and ended at Maruda Beach, Brazil this past Monday. The 859-day journey—seemingly a lifetime for non-adventure enthusiasts and, perhaps, normal people—took Stafford through three countries and, as you would most likely imagine, enemy encounters of various kinds. Throughout his epic trek, the former soldier came face to face with pit vipers, electric eels, anacondas, and scorpions. He was also imprisoned, chased by natives wielding bows and arrows, and wrongly accused of murder—twice. But it’s an accomplishment he doesn’t regret. “I’m committed now to this place for the rest of my life.” I see a book/movie contract in the future.