Amazon Express Update: Into Brazil, Picking Up Speed!


The Amazon Express paddling team, led by West Hansen, continues to make progress in their attempt to kayak the length of the Amazon River in record time. The expedition that began back in the Peruvian Andes in August has now proceeded much further downstream and this week they’ve managed to once again pass some impressive milestones. They still have a long way to go until they reach the Atlantic Ocean, but West and company seem to really be in a groove now and knocking off the miles at an impressive clip.

Perhaps the biggest news to come from the AE squad this week is that they have left Peru behind at last and are now padding the waters of the Amazon in Brazil. Upon arriving at the first settlement in that country they had to share their paperwork, permits and passports but once the officials there saw that everything was in order, they were allowed to continue on their way. That means they’ve crossed the last diplomatic hurdles in their way, and should now have a free run to the finish, although they are likely to be stopped by local police or the Brazilian navy a few times along the way.

Shortly after enter Brazil, the team also moved into another timezone. While that may not really seem like much of an accomplishment, when you consider that they’ve now paddled far enough to completely traverse one timezone and enter another, it gives you an idea of the scope of their adventure.  Add to it that they’ve now been on the water for 62 days and you being to get an idea of how challenging this journey must be for them, both physically and mentally.  (Note: The 62 days represents the number of days they’ve been in their kayaks and paddling. The expedition has actually been longer.)

That daily grind isn’t slowing them down much, as they have managed to really crank out the miles this week, even setting a new single-day distance record yesterday. Earlier in the week they came close to passing 80 miles (128 km) in one day, missing it by the narrowest of margins. Yesterday they blew past that mark however, covering an impressive 85.6 miles (137.7 km).

As they head further east, the team is finding fewer and fewer places to camp each night. The river is growing wider and larger as they go, and they are probably wandering further away from something that actually defines a shoreline. When camping last night they also reported that there were quite few caiman eyes watching them from the water. For those who don’t know, a caiman resembles a small alligator, with most measuring no more than a couple of meters in length. They aren’t particularly dangerous or aggressive, but I’m sure the boys are giving them plenty of respect none the less.

I’ll post more updates as the team continues to make progress. They’re doing quite well at the moment, but still have a number of weeks on the water  before they’re done.

Kraig Becker