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Kayaking The Length Of The Amazon River

  |   Sports

Not everyone enjoys the comforts of an Amazon River Cruise. This past Saturday, Texas native West Hansen set off on what is sure to be an epic adventure in South America. The avid paddler from Austin launched his attempt to set a new speed record for kayaking the length of the Amazon River, a waterway that runs more than 4400 miles (7081 kilometers) in length. The entire expedition is expected to last several months.

Kayaking the Amazon River

Kayaking the Amazon River

Hansen began his journey on Mount Mismi, a snow-capped peak located in a remote section of the Peruvian Andes. The 18,363-foot (5,597m) mountain has been identified as the most distant source of the Amazon with the Rio Apurimac, one of the prime tributaries for the river, beginning on its slopes. As it rushes down the mountain, the water picks up speed and power, creating dangerous Class V and VI+ rapids. West will need to successfully navigate those treacherous waters in the early days of the expedition.

Reading the early updates on Hansen's Amazon Express website, it seems that low water flow at the headwaters have made it tough going over the first few days. At times there hasn't been enough water even to paddle, forcing him to portage around certain sections. Carrying gear and a kayak through lush rainforests is not easy either, which only serves to cause further delays.

The relative calm won't last long, however, and the volume of water will most definitely pick up. Before he reaches the slower, more tranquil waters of the Amazon itself, West will have to run the dreaded Acobamba Abyss, a 40-mile (64-kilometer) stretch of river that is amongst the most difficult whitewater on the planet. The section flows through a towering slot canyon that once paddlers enter, there is no escape or turning back. He will have to successfully navigate Class V+ rapids on a river of no return, relying on his skills as a paddler to make it out the other side intact.

That will simply be the start of what promises to be quite an adventure for Hansen and his support crew. He does not offer up a definitive estimate of how long it will take to complete the journey, which will pass through both Peru and Brazil on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Regular updates should provide plenty of insights into his progress, however, and it will be fun see what he discovers along the way.

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Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.


Geri Daniel loved her vacation with Rainforest Cruises.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on the cruise. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.
— Geri Daniel, Austin, TX
The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
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