(Correne Coetzer) Marcin Gienieczkor and Gadiel "Choe" Sanchez Riviera completed their 405km canoe trip on the Amazon river system (Apurimac, Ene and Tambo) from San Fransisco (Peru) to Atalaya through the Red/Narco Zone, but not without a big scare or two. Before they left, Marcin said it would be the most dangerous month of his life because of the drug trafficking in the area.
They started off with a too heavy loaded canoe in high and fast water, reaching speeds of 9-18 km/h. Furthermore they encountered powerful whirlpools. "Sometimes the river carried away our canoe in such a whirl that the boat was bouncing around like in a washing machine. Once it turned us 4 times, we had the water in a canoe, everything was submerged, only the bow was on the surface.”
In the drug traffic zone
When entering Canyon Diablo, Ashaninka Indians fired three shots at them from the shore. But the two men kept moving as fast as they could. The river was flowing at 12 km/h and they could in any case not stop let alone turn around, said Marcin. Some 800 meters below they reached a village where they stopped.
They were questioned by the Indians and Gadiel explained to them that they are on expedition and showed them the necessary documents that gave them permission to be on the river. The leader smiled and apologized for the shots, he also explained that it is the narrowest spot on the River Ene and they have to keep an eye on this area because of the terrorists and drug (cocaine) traffickers.
The next stage was a struggle with eddies in the River Tambo. Suddenly, like a ghost, a patrol of soldiers emerged from the mountains. Marcin and Gadiel had to unpack everything. One bag of food was cut open, everything was listed, and photos were taken of the satellite phone, Spot tracker, passport, all documents and the canoe, and they disappeared in the jungle, almost like a "ghost people". Marcin added, "I realized then that I was in a place where there was no tourism, there were no people who were swimming in a canoe. […] here everything is different, a different world and a different perspective to solve the situation.”
The two rowers got a warm welcome in Atalaya where Gadiel said goodbye to Marcin, who continued on his own.
Atalaya to Pucullpa
From Atalaya Marcin covered the 530km to Pucallpa in 7 days on the River Ucayali. He passed the area where two Polish kayakers were murdered and Davey Du Plessis was shot.
Marcin says he is tired. He paddled 10 hours per day with a 25-minute break between 12h and 13h. He has back problems and his right foot is sore and bleeding. His biggest fear so far was on the River Ene where few people were friendly and the river was dangerous with powerful eddies.
The Pole says he is now in the heart of the jungle and so will it continue through the next stage to Iquitos.
Latitude: -7.95473 Longitude: -74.89771
Distance traveled: 1,639 km
Marcin Gienieczko kicked off his expedition in Lima on May 17, 2015, and cycled to the Village of Chilca on the Pacific Ocean from where he turned inland. He plans to end at Belem, Brazil.
He uses a Mad River Canoe, Royalex 16. It weighs 30 kg and it is made of Royalex materials. Marcin has used a similar canoe the entire McKenzie River system and on the biggest Siberian river, the Lena.
Into the Drug Traffic Zone: Gienieczko started Amazon canoeing
Solo Sailing Cicumnavigation record attempt: Alex Alley interviewed by ExWeb
Marcin Gienieczko talks about his Amazon canoe project: passion and dangerous people
Marcin Gienieczko to traverse South America via the Amazon
ExWeb interview with Amazon adventurers Gareth Jones & Aaron Chervenak (1 of 2): dangers and a mysterious military border marker
ExWeb interview with Gareth Jones & Aaron Chervenak (2 of 2): “Three Amazon fishermen schooled us for a few weeks”
Amazon Davey reflecting the attack and help: “a spirit for adventure is very, very difficult to lose!”
The big Amazon paddle: ExWeb interview with record kayaker Christian Bodegren
ExWeb Interview with Ed Stafford, Amazon walker
Expedition Amazonas interview, final: "The entire journey is etched upon my mind and my heart for eternity" (Mark Kalch)
First Amazon kayak run documented in comic flipbook
West Hansen’s Amazon kayak from then newly discovered scource
Wiley Online Library Feb 2014:
Correct placement of the most distant source of the Amazon River in the Mantaro River drainage
True Source of the Amazon by Canoe & Kayak (2012, James “Rocky" Cantos)
From the Gallery: Peru’s Apurimac Abyss by Canoe & Kayak (2015)
South America traverse via Amazon website
(follow his blog in the Dispatch Feed on Explorersweb)
Charity (info below tracker map)
Gallery of Previous Expeditions