Awhile back we told you about kayaker West Hansen and his Amazon Express expedition. At the time West and his crew were just a couple of weeks into their attempt to kayak the Amazon River from source-to-sea, having just embarked on their journey high in the mountains of Peru. While the expedition was off to a solid start, the team was still facing weeks on the river that would be spent paddling thousands of miles through one of the most remote and challenging environments on the planet. Last week that epic journey came to an end when West and his companions reached the Atlantic Ocean at long last.
The expedition began in the Andes where the Amazon’s tributaries aren’t much bigger than a small stream. The waters started off low and slow, but it soon gave way to fast and furious rapids as the river grew in size and speed. Those rapids tested the resolve of the kayakers, who needed every bit of their experience and skill to pass safely through. After exiting the mountain and entering the rainforest, the Amazon grew in size and slowed to a more manageable speed, but presented some new challenges in the form of encounters with the sometimes less than friendly inhabitants. As the expedition progressed, and the paddlers grew closer to the mouth of the river, high tides from the Atlantic Ocean moved upstream to slow their progress. Those tides made for tough paddling in the final days of the journey which culminated with their arrival at the mouth of the river last Wednesday.
According to the team’s final blog post, the expedition lasted for a total of 114 days and covered more than 4200 miles. The full team consisted of 12 support crew and a total of 12 paddlers, of which, only one traveled the length of the river. That man is West Hansen. His journey, along with his team, took them across two countries (Peru and Brazil), which was made possible thanks to the assistance of numerous local security officials and through the kindness of many of the locals they met along the way.
By the time they reached the finish line last week, the team was completely exhausted and looking forward to going home. Each of them has a family that is awaiting their return and three-and-a-half months on the river has certainly taken its toll. After weeks of paddling 10+ hours per day, I think it is safe to say that they’ve earned a much needed rest.
Congratulations to the Amazon Express team on their amazing accomplishment.
By Kraig Becker