Amazon Source To Sea Update: Davey’s Paddling At Last


The last time we checked in on the progress of Davey du Plessis he was negotiating some rather challenging sections of the Amazon River on an inner tube. At that time he had been out of contact for a week or so and everyone was eagerly awaiting word on how things were going. Since then things have improved for the South African who is traveling the length of the Amazon from source to sea. Not only has he climbed inside his kayak for the first time, he is also posting regular updates to his blog as well.

For those who haven’t been following Davey’s adventure thus far, he set off in June on an epic journey that will eventually cover as much as 7200km (4474 miles). He began his journey high in the Peruvian Andes at the most distant source of the Amazon. After climbing and trekking through the mountains, du Plessis climbed aboard his bike and rode along the Apurimac River for about 1500km (932 miles) to where it meets the might Amazon itself. It was at that point that he entered the water to start the third and final leg of the journey – a 5700km (3541 mile) paddle to the sea.

The start of the river portion of the adventure ended up being more challenging than he expected. The water was faster and higher than anticipated and as a result Davey elected to use a tire to float past the more difficult secitions. Even that wasn’t easy however as he nearly lost all of his gear, which he pulled behind him in a kayak, on more than one occasion.

Yesterday du Plessis posted a big update to his blog. In it he talks about how his foldable kayak finally cleared customs, allowing him to truly start paddling. On his way from Lima back to the river however, he met a German couple whose son drowned while kayaking the section that Davey is now passing through. That left him a bit unsettled to say the least.

An update on his Facebook page also says that he received a military escort yesterday to meet the local chief of the indigenous tribes. Once that introduction has been made and Davey’s plans made clear, the tribes will grant him safe passage along the water. If this bit of diplomacy didn’t take place, it is likely that he would be met with hostility and suspicion along the way.

The river seems to still be the main threat to his safety however as he is still encountering plenty of challenging whitewater and his little kayak was not designed for those kinds of conditions. He estimates that he’ll need to get another 50km (31 miles) down stream before the river widens out and slows its descent. After that it’ll be calm, flat paddling for thousands of kilometers.

I spent some time on the Amazon River in Peru a few years back and it was far from difficult to paddle. That said, I was way down stream on the river proper where it spreads out for kilometers in all direction . It is a massive waterway in scope and scale with hundreds of tributaries and backwater to be explored and while there are settlements along its banks, there are also plenty of incredibly remote areas with few people as well.

For Davey, this adventure is just getting started and he will have so much to experience as he makes his way to the Atlantic Ocean over the months ahead.

Kraig Becker