Brazilian Cowboy Finishes 8-Year Ride Across the Americas

Adventure Travel
Filipe Masetti Leite rides through Waiparous Village, Alberta on his horse Smokey, as pack horse Mack follows. Photo: The Canadian Press

Filipe Masetti Leite, 33, rode into Calgary, Alberta on July 3, completing a 26,000km, eight-year ride across the Americas. Appropriately, his journey ended at the Calgary Stampede grounds. Initially, Leite was to have led the event’s annual Parade, but it was cancelled because of COVID-19.

Instead, on the day the Stampede was to have begun, a small group of supporters accompanied him into Calgary. Stampede officials joined him on horseback and mounted police escorted him through the city. He was then crowned honorary Stampede Parade marshal. When he reached the Stampede grounds, he dismounted, and overwhelmed with emotion, he knelt and prayed. This is where he  began his marathon journey back in July 2012.

Liete completes his ride in Calgary. Photo: The Canadian Press

Since then, he has been crossing the Americas on horseback one section at a time. From his 2012 Calgary start, Leite first rode 16,000km to his parents’ home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, arriving in 2014. He set off again in 2016 and rode the 7,350km from Brazil to Patagonia. Last year, he covered 2,600km from Alaska to Grande Prairie, Alberta, from which he left  on May 20 to complete the 800km last section. He crossed 12 countries during his ride.

“I left the Calgary Stampede an unknown cowboy, with a dream that seemed bigger than life,” Liete said. “Many people called me crazy, several said I would die doing it — and almost all said it was impossible. But here I am, eight years later, finishing where it all started.”

Leite was inspired by a story his dad used to read to him, about Swiss long rider Aime Tschiffley, who rode from Buenos Aires to New York City in 1925.

He is now the third person to successfully complete this journey. “I am one of the richest people in the world in terms of the things I’ve seen, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met,” he said.

He also admits that there were “tough moments, when grizzlies were following us, when we were crossing the mountains in three feet of snow and cold, and the wind and the mosquitoes tried to pick me up and carry me away.”

Photo: The Canadian Press

He now plans to retire from long riding, but would like to write a book and work on a movie about his journey. “I want to be the next Anthony Bourdain, but with a cowboy hat,” he said.

About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Aspiring sports and travel journalist based in the UK.

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