Amazon Express Update: On The Water And Underway

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A couple of weeks back I wrote about West Hansen’s attempt to set a new speed record on the Amazon River by kayaking from source to sea as quickly as possible. At that time, West and his support team were still acquiring their proper visas and scouting the start of the expedition, but were getting close to hitting the water. This past weekend, high atop Mount Mismi in Peru, they launched their kayaks at last.

Hansen is calling his expedition the Amazon Express and the website is already being updated with news from the field. It seems these early days of the paddle have not been particularly easy, as Hansen and his team are starting in the headwaters o the Amazon where it is very rocky and water flow is on the low side right now. As a result, they’ve had to portage around certain sections and some of the kayaks have been too heavy for the shallow waters. These conditions won’t last long however, as the river will begin to pick-up speed and intensity in the days ahead. The first 650km (403 miles) or so will feature some of the most dramatic whitewater on the planet, before eventually flowing into the Amazon proper.

The fact that updates from the river are currently being posted at least once a day is good sign for those who want to follow Hansen’s progress. The reports have been brief, but detailed and share a lot of information about logistics and conditions. Currently, since they are still in the mountains, those conditions have been on the cold side. They’ve even had flash snow storms and very chilly over night temperatures. That will all change once Hansen and his squad get to lower altitudes however and the warmth of the rainforest will probably be welcome. At least for a little while.

One thing I should point out about this expedition is that in my earlier post I had noted that Hansen was attempting to make a solo speed record attempt. There doesn’t appear to be anything that I would call “solo” in this, at least not so far. Not only does he have a support team, there are a few other paddlers with him at the moment. Perhaps once he’s on the Amazon itself, and not the tributaries, he’ll be alone, but for now West has plenty of company.

Follow the updates at

Kraig Becker