By Piotr Chmielinski
September 2015, Peru
- The main aim of ours is to get to Belem - I was told once by brothers Dawid Andres and Hubert Kisinski while they had just begun their remarkable Biking – Amazon Expedition. At that time, they had in front of them more than 7,000 kilometers to be overcome by road and water.
2 March 2016, Brazil
The triumphant throw up of a bicycle wheel high in the air meant the same as my toss of a kayak paddle 30 years ago: We are in Belém!
The bikers were awaited in the middle of the river by Igor Vianna sitting in his characteristic yellow kayak produced by his own company. For many years he has been observing Amazonian expeditions and has always been keen to support the explorers of "his" river, such as Aleksander Doba and West Hansen, in the course of the project "The Amazon Express". The expedition of the Polish brothers also found his special attention. After he had received the necessary information from me, he paddled to meet David and Hubert, and then solemnly led them to Belém.
Most of the Amazonian expeditions end right here. In fact, however, the river ends its run close to 200 kilometers away, flowing in a wide funnel into the Atlantic. That’s where the expedition of David and Hubert is planned to be completed.
- Belém is extremely important for us, and it is even a crucial point of our trip. Speaking about the aim of the expedition, usually we talked just about Belém, the main port at the mouth of the Amazon. However, from the beginning our adventure on the world’s biggest river, we had decided to end the journey at the point of its connection to the ocean, so maintaining the continuity of the route from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
This care about the continuity of the route of the expedition led the brothers consistently in one direction to the "Amazonian Bermuda Triangle", the stretch between Oeiras do Para and Belem that was travelled overland. Although the word "road" in this case turned out to be a giant misunderstanding. Pretty soon, David and Hubert discovered that the asphalt roadway marked on the map by Google was neither asphalt, nor was it a road!
There was a lot to talk about the shooting of the bikers in the jungle. By boat and by swimming, and breaking through the mud and swamps, overgrown by dense vegetation areas. They had staggered on a several dozen kilometers loop to overcome, on their own, every meter of the route. And when it seemed that they were done and could move on, the phone signal appeared, and I could finally make them aware that they actually had nearly made their goal, but moving in the opposite direction to the correct one!
- I almost hated you when you told us that it would be reasonable to return again upriver - David said laughing when we spoke a few days later.
Despite exhaustion and blurred vision from wandering the maze of tangled vegetation, they had no doubt that it was worth a bit of effort to achieve the objective. Well, it went pretty smoothly. Following the previous experience they figured out that the electric poles that were set there a long time ago with the intention of routing a power line, might serve as guideposts for them. Only the locals must feel disappointed. They considered two men on bicycles constantly asking about the power poles, as electricians would, so perhaps finally the long-awaited electric light would shine in their area.
The loops swept in the middle of the jungle turned out to be a good lesson in survival, but above all it proved the determination of the brothers to fulfill their purpose in accordance with the principles of continuity of the route, keeping one direction of movement and using only their own power.
- The jungle is no longer scary for us - says Hubert. - And soon after getting out of the tropical jungle we biked to the urban metropolis resembling Manhattan from afar.
Bewilderment is probably the best word to describe the emotional state of David and Hubert, when they reached Belém. The joy to have reached a goal that not so long ago was extremely remote, and even seemed almost unreachable, mixed with disbelief. "We are in Belém! We are in Belém! "- they kept repeating time after time. And the reality that the end of the journey was so close!
- We got to the shore, we stayed on the beach and suddenly I felt tears in my eyes. It's almost the end of the expedition, the most difficult part is already behind us. Only a few days of riding towards the village of Gloria was left to complete the journey and .... what will we do now??? - The laughter of David can sense his emotion.
On the beach in Belém the water part of the expedition had finally ended. Hubert celebrated this fact by having the last meal on his Amazon bike - beef and farina. Then the brothers dismantled the floats, installed the wheels to the frame and proceeded on their way.
3 - 4 March 2016, Brazil
David and Hubert ride toward the Atlantic. Contrary to some reports in the media they have not finished their expedition yet. But the grand finale is just around the corner. We are waiting!
Polish brothers, David Andres and Hubert Kisinski, who are attempting to cross South America by bicycle since September 2015, are traveling the Amazon by land and water. On the water, they use an innovative catamaran-like bike to pedal most of the Amazon River. The brothers started the Amazon section at the foot of Mount Mismi, Lake Ticlla Cocha.
During the 1985-86 Amazon Source to Sea Expedition, Piotr Chmielinski became the only member of the 13-person expedition who managed to navigate the Amazon River entirely from Source to Sea, about 4300 miles. Joe Kane completed the entire river by walking the first section of the Apurimac’s white water and finished the rest by kayak and raft. Zbigniew Bzdak and Kate Durrant completed the entire River by walking the first section of the Apurimac’s white water and doing the rest by raft and motor boat. Their adventure is described in the book Running the Amazon by Joe Kane, which is now considered a classic of adventure literature. Check Piotr's Profile on Pythom here.
When the Great River Flows backward! (Amazon River Bikers, Part 9)