Amazon Express Update: End In Sight

DSC 0074

Over the past few months we’ve been closely following the Amazon Express expedition, during which West Hansen and his team of paddlers have been attempting to travel source-to-sea along the Amazon River. This is, of course, a major undertaking which began back in the Peruvian Andes in August, continued down into some of the most intense whitewater on the planet and later out onto the wide expanse of the might river itself. It has been quite an adventure for the entire group, who continue to paddle on now, knocking off roughly 50+ miles (80+ km) per day. But the end is in sight and they are nearing the finish line at last. If all goes according to plan they should reach the mouth of the river and the Atlantic Ocean sometime early next week.

According to their latest dispatch, West and company are expected to reach Belem, the last major city before the end of the paddle, on Monday, December 3. Belem sits approximately 77 miles (123 km) up river from the point where the Amazon empties into the Atlantic. At this point, they don’t expect to pull into the city at all, but instead paddle past it. Taking their current speed into account, it seems likely that they will then wrap up the expedition on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week at the very latest. By the time they are done, they’ll have kayaked in excess of 4000 miles (6437 km) through some of the most remote and isolated regions on Earth.

These past few weeks have not been particularly easy ones for the team. As they’ve paddled further down the river, the current has gotten slower, making it more difficult to cover adequate mileage each day. On top of that, the conditions have gotten windier, which always makes paddling tougher, and they are now dealing with the effects of tides as well. As a result, they’re only managing about 3-3.5 mph (4.8-5.6 km/h) in the mornings. In the afternoons the winds die down, allowing them to go faster, but that is also when the tides are at their highest, so that time of day presents its own set of challenges. Needless to say, it has been exhausting work and the crew is ready to finish up and head home.

It looks like next week they’ll get to do exactly that.

Kraig Becker