Is This Amazon “Cruise” Bold or Crazy?

Viktor Balaz (left) and Jakub Bezeg (middle). Photo: Cruise of Amazon

A DJ and a ski alpinist have set off on an Amazon expedition that is either back to basics or dangerously ill-prepared, depending on how charitable you feel.

Slovakians Viktor Balaz and Jakub Bezeg aim to cover 6,500km of the Amazon River in a simple wooden canoe. They won’t use a motor and will not have a support team. In a quite brilliant, Python-esque video announcing their expedition, the pair claim that they will eat “exclusively what the jungle offers us”.

Learning to hunt in a couple of days

What the jungle offers might prove meagre. West Hansen, who holds the record for furthest paddled journey down the Amazon, says that “most of the shoreline has been hunted to oblivion”. Even locals now struggle to catch enough food in some regions.

Balaz and Bezeg planned to learn and “master” traditional hunting techniques, using bows, spears, and knives, in “a couple of days” from the Peruvian Indians before they set off.

They cast off three days ago from the Peruvian town of Nauta on the Marañón River, bound for the Brazilian town of Macapa, roughly 145km from the Atlantic. They hoped to cover 70km per day but have been averaging about half that. On day two, they struggled to control their tarp sail in the challenging current. They had to be towed to a homestead for the night. The river will become significantly more ferocious as they continue.

The mosquitoes around Iquitos are hungry. Photo: Cruise of Amazon

Long-distance Amazon expeditions of any kind are extremely tough. Remote communities are not always welcoming to foreigners. Sections of the river are beset by modern-day pirates and drug traffickers. It is not unusual for expeditions to be held at gunpoint, or worse. In 2017, British kayaker Emma Kelty was brutally murdered near the Brazilian town of Coari.

In an interview with Slovakian news site Novy Cas, Balaz says that they will “map pirate and smuggling zones, where we are helped by the Peruvian army and navy,” suggesting that they are aware of the dangers. Fingers crossed that they are taking all necessary precautions.

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About the Author

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam.

A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon.

He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon.

His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.

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