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(Video above has English subtitles visible after clicking the leftmost icon in the lower right corner)
Update (Dec 22)
THERE WILL BE A MOVIE! Thanks, you are awesome! We managed to collect 100% of the goal in less than two days! However, we are not wrapping it up just yet - my dream is to bring a drone with me (here in Ecuador for approx. $1500) and show you the amazing wastness of green from the bird's perspective. Do you want to see that? Share it, support it, write about it and look forward to it! I believe, that together we can create something special!
THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL (PAST AND FUTURE) SHARING AND ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT!
Help me get the equipment neccessary to document my upcoming solo-expedition through Amazonia, during which I will paddle through the Amazon jungle, crossing all of the South American continent: from Ecuatorian Andes, rising from the Pacific, to Brasilian sun drenched white beaches on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Diego Homem's 1565 illustration, depicting the Amazon river as a snake zig-zagging through all of South America. Source: National Library, St. Petersburg / Bridgeman Image Index
In the footsteps of Francisco de Orellana
The goal of this expedition is to recreate the epic 1541-1542 journey of Francisco de Orellana. After participating with Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Peru in 1535, Orellana moved to Guayaquil and was named governor of that area in 1538. When Pizarro’s half brother, Gonzalo, prepared an expedition to explore the regions east of Quito and to search for a mytical land of cinammon, Orellana was appointed his lieutenant.
In April 1541 he was sent ahead of the main party to seek provisions, taking a brigantine with 50 soldiers.
F. de Orellana's first voyage (1541-1542). Source: Wikipedia
He reached the junction of the Napo and Marañón rivers, where his group persuaded him of the impossibility of returning to Pizarro. Instead, he entered upon an exploration of the Amazon system. Drifting with the current, he reached the mouth of the river in August 1542. - a classic adventure that has not gotten much easier since then.
After more than two years of travel, I have arrived in Cuenca, just 200 km east of Guayaquil, where I am preparing for my biggest adventure so far. More than two years and almost 18,000 km after I have started this trip in Oct 2014, setting out for the Silk Road, I am now changing my mean of transport for a bit and switching from the bike to my inflatable kayak in order to conquer the Amazon river.
The map of my two-year bicycle journey
My journey to the Amazon started as well as the one of Orellana's had started - in Europe. I just took it to America from the other side, through the Silk Road and not on the ship but by a bicycle:
I made olive oil in Italy, fought a pack of wild dogs in Greece, smoked opium with bedouins in Iranian desert, went over four-thousand-meters-high passes of Pamir's and through three thousand kilometers of Taklamakan wasteland, I worked in a Chinese bar, slept in the "Magic Bus", rode underneath the Northern Lights of Alaska and Yukon, I was homeless for three weeks in San Francisco, I challenged the impassable Darien, crossed the Caribbean sea on an inflatable dinghy, shipwrecked and lost everything, so I could start anew and try to paddle through the Amazonian jungle all the way to the Atlantic Ocean...
The Amazon plan
So now I am in Cuenca, finalizing the last details and after the New Year will strap everything to the bike again, go to Guayaquil, then follow the Pacific Coast north to the Equator, where I'll turn back to the east. In Quito I cross the Andes again and ride down into the humid, hot lowlands of the Ecuadorian Amazonia, and in the town of Francisco de Orellana I'll inflate my packraft, load the bike and start to paddle down the river Napo in Peru.
First nine hundred kilometers of the river is the classic old-fashioned adventure: the distances between sporadic Indian towns are measured in days (According to my calculations, the longest distance between two adjacent villages should be around a week) and the jungle is inhabited by indigenous tribes speaking some long-forgotten languages.
within three to five weeks, I should reach the confluence of Napo with Amazon near Iquitos. Over there, I will let the world know I am alive and then I will continue towards the tri-border of Peru, Colobia and Brasil in Leticia/Tabatinga. Next 1000 km to Manaus is a dangerous stretch with river pirates oprating in the area, but the river is fairly wide here and my raft is tiny, so I hope to sneak through it unseen.
The Amazon River in Brasil.. Source: National Geographic España
From Manaus to Santarém and from Santarém to Belém it is quite likely that I jump aboard one of the old river steamers, as the width of the river during the rainy season reaches up to 20 km and the current is very slow over there. Furthermore, from Santarém further on, the high tide creates high shock waves, that could be quite risky for my little boat. Reaching Belém, I will pack the raft on the bike again and cycle to Rio, where I plan to stay for a few months and process the footage.
Depending on the river current, hospitality of the indigenous people and foremostly, on my state of mind, the journey can take anything from two up to eight months, but I am almost sure I will be in Rio before the Fall 2017. Another option is to go north to French Guyana afterwards and relax a bit in the 'European Union'.
As far as the practical matters are concerned, because I am asked about that a lot: for food, I will have few kilos of rice and some spices (I will be able to resupply roughly once a week), I will cook on my gasoline stove, to drink, I will collect rain water or, in worse case, I will filter the water from the river. I will sleep in my hammock under a tarp and charge all the batteries using a solar panel. At least once a month I should reach a bigger city where I'll connect to the internet and update you on my progress with articles on my blog and photos on my Facebook.
My boat: "The Ladybug"
My boat, baptised The Ladybug is a packraft (an inflatable raft that can be packed into a backpack) weighing just 2.53kg. Alongside with my four-piece carbon paddle, I can fit it all into one bike pannier.
2,44 m long packraft is inflated in 5m33s...
Although hearing "inflatable" does not usually suggest it, a packraft is no toy: classified for up to Class 4 whitewater, it can carry up to 250 kg. But the best thing is, that it makes me an amphibian - I can either cycle and carry the raft or unpack it, load the bike and paddle.
My camp on an island in the Caribbean Sea. The packraft with the bike loaded onto it and my hammock in the background. May 2016, Panama.
As crazy as the plan might seem, it has been already proven "in battle": just like this, I have crossed 240 kilometers through the Caribbean Sea from Panama to Colombia in order to avoid the Darien Gap - impassable stretch of land between North and South America. A trailer for a movie about this adventure (which is a part of the rewards) is just below.
The "Darien" movie trailer. With your help, I would like to make even better one!
Although we've been zig-zagging through the planet quite extensively, the Amazon is still veiled in that ancient myth of adventure, it is still the mysterious, wild land, inhabited by strange people, speaking long-forgotten languages...
And now, you can go there with me by helping me to bring you Orellana's adventure through my eyes. I am not asking you to sponsor my life on the road - I don't want to crowdfund for food, accomodation or flight tickets (after all, I have the bike) - I am just asking you to participate in creating the movie by helping me to cover the cost of filming equimpent that I have lost while crossing the Caribbean sea....
A table with the prices of the crucial equipment
The problem is, that here in Ecuador, electronics are insanely expensive because of high import taxes, so I need to be humble and instead of a GoPro, I am just getting its Chinese copy, I am selling my slow computer and instead of camera and a computer, I will just use a used smartphone to take pictures and edit it all. I will charge all of that with a solar panel.
Should I collect more than my goal, I would like to get better equipment and shoot in 4K. In the unlikely event of getting even more, my dream is to get a drone to show you the amazing green wastness of the Amazonian rainforest.
Diaries are written mostly in Cyech and cover dates from 18.10.2014 until now..
My two diaries. One is from Asia, the other one is American... and both of them are full already.
If you choose a reward that contains printing of my photos (delivered only to CZE), choose their numbers from the catalogue below.
- Sienna, Italy
- St. Peter's statue, Vatikán
- Matera, Italy
- Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
- Christmas Eve. Dardanelles, Turkey
- Teheran, Iran
- A desert evening, Iran
- Prophet. Esfahan, Iran (By Brice Andlauer)
- Namak Desert, Iran
- A morning in Pamir. Chiyirchyk Pass, Kyrgyzstan
- Chinese border. Irkeshtam Pass, Kyrgzyzstan
- Taklamakan Desert, Xin-Jiang, China.
- Dunhuang, China
- Denali. Stampede Trail, Alaska
- The Magic Bus 142
- Xian, China
- Northern Lights. Healy, Alaska
- Oregon, USA
- Oregon, USA
- Bacalar, Mexico
- Vancouver, Canada
- Cancún, Mexico
- Chinatown, San Francisco, USA
- A night in the jungle. Belize
- Caye Caulker, Belize
- Granada, Nicaragua
- Ometepe volcano, Nicaragua
- San Blas, Panama
- La Candelaria, Bogota, Colombia
- Cajas NP, Ecuador
For print, you can choose from the most popular pictures of my instagram, where you can also view them in better quality.
..and now it's up to you!
Regardless of the result of this campaign (if the goal is not met, all of the money is fully refunded), no later than Feb 12, I will be already on the river and I will undertake this expedition anyway. But it would be such a shame not being able to film this journey: 4000 river kilometers, through some of the most pristine and most wild places of our planet? That surely calls for a movie, don't you think?