A few years ago, doing something like this seemed totally out of reach to me. I don’t have a military, sporting, scouting, university or privately educated background and my life has been fairly typical for a Sussex builder. The Amazon and Andes have always had a magical appeal to me and I want to see this part of the world first hand myself, perhaps while drawing some attention primarily to its wonders, and maybe some of it’s issues, but my main objective is to have an journey of a lifetime and personal challenge to attempt be the first to traverse the mighty Amazon river (by any means) east to west, from the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil to its official source in the Peruvian Andes on foot.
I have had a taste of this kind of adventure. For several weeks In 2009 and again in 2010, I joined Ed Stafford and Cho Sanchez on Ed’s remarkable Walking the Amazon expedition. At the time, planning my own expedition felt like an unattainable dream. But it gave me an understanding of the environment I’m planning to traverse and I’m very aware of the risks I’ll be taking. I’ve thought a lot about doing a trip like this in the past, but I didn’t take any concrete steps towards making it happen until a few years ago.
After a couple of wake-up calls, the way I thought about an Amazon trip of my own started to change. If I didn’t make this happen now, when would I ever do something like this? I realised that everything I’d done had built up to an opportunity. If I put everything I know and everything I own into an adventure of a lifetime, this opportunity would be in reach.
For the past two and a half decades, I have worked on countless building and landscaping projects in and around Southern England. I’ve acquired qualifications in construction and project managed a few builds now. I like working and being outside, although the winter months in the UK can be tough. Working at close proximity with the earth and the outdoor environment I feel gives me a more spiritual and tangible connection to the world.
And now, I’ve decided to swap my brick trowel for a machete, my work boots for walking boots, my pickup truck for a backpack, my spoken English for Portuguese, and the concrete jungle for the natural jungle to attempt this challenge.
I don’t have a political agenda and I haven’t as yet made any post expedition plans, I just want to focus 100% on this challenge. I am hoping to raise some money for specific charities in Peru and Brazil, if people follow my progress and feel inspired.
And I’m fortunate to have the support of a few kit makers whose help I’m grateful for. But this is primarily a personal challenge, one that I know will test me to my limits and push me to overcome fears of the unknown.
The school of life has taught me a few things and I have done some practical and relevant training over the past few years, oh yes I’ve also watched a few episodes of Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild! So let’s see if my little legs can get me up, down, over, and around this magnificent and incredibly bio diverse continent, and to the finish line in one piece.