Amazon Cruise Fizzles Out

Unsurprisingly, the Slovakian duo attempting a back-to-basics “cruise” of the Amazon River have aborted on the Peru–Brazil border.

Viktor Balaz and Jakub Bezeg wanted to cover 6,500km of the Amazon River in a simple wooden canoe. They had no motor, no support team, and had planned to hunt and forage for all their food.

Immediately after setting off, they struggled to reach their daily target of 70km and found that they didn’t have enough time to both paddle and fish. They fell back on a diet of rice and bananas. They suffered from sunstroke and struggled to control their boat. After just over 530km, they arrived at the border town of Tabatinga.

Moving by boat from Peru to Brazil is tricky. Many Amazon expeditions have been turned down because their boats were deemed unsafe. According to Amazon paddler West Hansen, those that have made it over often get their passports checked as backpackers. Then they sneak their boats over, either aboard a rented fishing boat or by drifting past at night. “One was caught, jailed, and deported,” said Hansen.

Amazingly, Balaz and Bezeg managed to persuade the Brazilian authorities to grant them a 90-day visa and to enter with their canoe. However, they were warned not to continue into a lawless area rife with pirates and drug traffickers. Balaz and Bezeg’s laissez-faire attitude to the trip had come back to bite them.

Pirates and gangs on the river are to be expected during an Amazon expedition, but it seems that the Slovakians had no idea how to proceed. Their Amazon dream ended after just two weeks.

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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9 months ago

The narrative kind of reminds me of the end of Tom Clancy’s ‘Rainbow Six’. Nature is what it is, and nature does not prefer us over other residents of the planet. A good thing I believe.