Ed and Luke take a walk on the wild side

January 18, 2008

From the Leicester Mercury today: story by Alison Curtis

Locals along the route of explorer Ed Stafford's next expedition have one piece of advice for the adventurer: "If you do this, you will die." 

The 32-year-old former Army captain from Mowsley, near Market Harborough, and pal Luke Collyer are aiming to be the first men ever to walk the length of the Amazon unsupported and unguided.

They will have to live off their wits during the 4,000-mile journey, which is expected to take them 18 months.

They will trek a largely unexplored route in remote jungle, in temperatures of up to 32C and high humidity.

The pair will carry only what they can fit in their rucksacks, sleeping in hammocks and foraging for food, including jungle vegetation, fish and bugs.

They will be miles from civilisation, but just a step away from dangerous guerillas, illegal hunters and poisonous creatures.

While many have conquered the river by boat, nobody has ever completed the journey – from the source of the river in Peru to the mouth in Brazil – on foot.

As well as winning a place in history, Ed is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for the ME Awareness charity, as his sister, Janie, 30, has battled the condition for 15 years.

He is also studying climate change.

Ed is no stranger to harsh environments, having been to Afghanistan and led expeditions across the world, but he knows this will be his toughest challenge yet. He said: "It will be a very different experience and certainly much tougher. It will be cool to say that we were the first people to walk the length of the Amazon, but there are many spin-offs from just the adventure of it all.

"We will be raising money and also looking into the effects of climate change on the people we meet along the way."

Before the pair officially start the trek on April 1, they will complete a boat trip of their journey in reverse to leave packages of supplies, such as clothing and boots, at villages along the route. They will start their trek from Nevado Mismi, in southern Peru – the source of the Amazon – and will walk all the way, except for when they cross tributaries in an inflatable raft.

The first 100 miles alone will take them through the so-called Red Zone, the heartland of Peruvian guerilla group the Shining Path.

They will have local guides for some of the way, enabling them to speak to local people, but say they have had difficulty securing help because their route is so perilous.

Ed said: "We will be washing our clothes in rivers, sleeping in hammocks and foraging for food.

"We do not know what we will find in some places. It will be a real adventure. That's the beauty of it."

Ed and Luke, who is from Essex, will use satellite data from Nasa to help guide them along their route.

In their rucksacks, they will have film and computer equipment so they can download videos and information on to their website.

The trip will raise money for six charities, including the ME Association, of which Ed's mum, Barbara, is a trustee.

Tony Britton, of the charity, said: "With his connection to this charity, it was a natural choice for Ed to support us. We are totally in awe of what they are doing."

Walking The Amazon website 

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