Have a Limited Travel Budget? Try an Amazon Jungle Walk

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Is it possible to be sufficiently prepared to hike the entire length of the Amazon?

Is it possible to be sufficiently prepared to hike the entire length of the Amazon?

Everything I needed to know about traveling, I could have learned from Ed Stafford’s Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time. He’s the first man to have walked the Amazon, a little journey that took him just over two years. I’ve spent the last several days reading the book. I’m sure Ed Stafford and I have very little in common: he’s a former military man,a  former tour guide in Belize, and outdoorsy and generally camping-competent in ways I can’t even fathom. Though I’m hoping to head to the Amazon myself in the next few years, my trip there will hardly be the rugged adventure he undertook. Still, I just couldn’t put his book down.

A two-year jungle walk is one long slog even when you have the mildest of temperaments. Stafford manages to convey the mood swings attendant with an all-encompassing, potentially life-ending endeavor of this sort. But even when he was down, I was with him, carried along through worries about food supplies, the annoyances of insects, the hassles of tourist paperwork, the fear of crazed drug-trade field workers, and concern about what indigenous people might do. Albeit in a very intense way, Stafford has covered everything a prospective traveler would need to learn, such as

  • the importance of picking the right traveling companion
  • what to do when you’re down
  • how to get past your fears about what’s going on at home while you’re away (bills coming in)
  • the wisdom of being open to the foods of different cultures (in his case, monkey, turtle, piranha)
  • how it’s useful to know the native language and, if you don’t, to have an interpreter
  • how mundane annoyances are just that in the larger scheme of the universe
  • the importance of staying away from caimans (a member of the alligator family)
A life-changing trip: traveling the length of the Amazon.

A life-changing trip: traveling the length of the Amazon.

The armchair adventurer will be as drawn in to the story even if there aren’t the remotest of plans to go anywhere near a jungle. Stafford doesn’t gloss over any personal shortcomings. He’s funded on a shoe string, didn’t sufficiently anticipate personality clashes, and in constant need of food, battery-charging capacity, sponsors, better maps, or of all of these. Any reader will come to admire his sheer will and persistence as he insists on walking a route he could far more easily have taken by boat.

I could have done without all of the measurements being in metric and would have liked a few more explanations of the acronyms often used. Otherwise, his adventure provided me with one good read.

©Lori Tripoli

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