(By Correne Coetzer) "On the one hand the project is filled with passion and adventure desire, but on the other full of a lot of different risks and dangers.” says the Polish adventurer to Explorersweb. Marcin Gienieczko is in the last stages of his preparations for his crossing of South America, during which he will run the Amazon by canoe.
He is not unfamiliar with the Amazon as he had done some preparations there in 2014. Apart from canoeing, Marcin did a special training workshop in the jungle near Iquitos, Peru, where he had learned how to built a shelter in the jungle and to identify and eat edible plants and fruits.
He tells Exweb more about his preparations, equipment, food and what he had learned from previous expeditions.
Explorersweb: What type of canoe will you use?
Marcin: I use the Mad River Canoe, Royalex 16. It weighs 30 kg and it is made of Royalex materials. I have used a similar canoe the entire McKenzie River system and on the biggest Siberian river, the Lena. See Siberian map here.
This is not a fast boat but a solid one. It is able to withstand strong hits and it is adapted for the expedition. A special anti-splash apron helps to go through the big waves and rapids. I can pack a lot of things in it, including 30 liters of water, which makes me self-sufficient at each stage.
I have used such a canoe while training on the Yukon, when I have lived there. In addition, my clients (I'm also a guide on the Yukon River) use it. It best model, it is 6 meters long and two persons are able to sit in it.
I have sailed the Rio Napo with my partner, reaching the Amazon in 2014. I would like to add that I just don’t like kayak.
Explorersweb: You can’t take much with you, but more or less, how does your equipment list look like? What do you have for survival/security in the Amazon?
Marcin: I don't agree. If I sail by canoe I am able to take approximately 50 kg equipment. That would be impossible if I sailed by kayak. I always take about 10 liters of water, solar panel, 3 GPSs, 2 Spots, extreme Iridium phone, freeze-dried food, rain jacket, about 50 flashlight batteries, small tent, 4 pairs of oars, including one super-lightweight made from Kevlar that is useful during long and straight parts of Amazon River. I also take a machete, a lot of different sprays, mosquito nets.
All those things are packed in 2 sacks and 2 barrels. A canoe gives me a greater transporting possibility of the equipment and that is why I am more independent. I do not need company during certain parts of the expeditions but of course there are places where it would be helpful for example when I will be crossing Amazon, leaving Manaus.
My location can be traced through the Spot Tracer transmitter. Every 10 minutes, my geographical location will be sent to the headquarter in Poland. Twice a day, another message will be transmitted from the another transmitter.
Updates about my expedition will be transmitted via Inmarsat BGAN links - a world leader in mobile satellite communications, which provides simultaneous voice and broadband data.
Explorersweb: What about food? What will you carry with and what will you get from the jungle?
Marcin: In Lima I am going to buy some food like: milk powder and sugar, but I send from Poland about 100 food parcels with freeze-dried food (spaghetti and mashed potatoes). I send part of the food to Pucalpa and the other part to Iquitos, the rest I take with me.
Together with food I also send the maps which will helpful in addition to the GPS. I submit the project to Guinness World Record but I would like to underline that Energa Solo Amazon is a sporting trip and during the expedition counts dawn and dusk, and 10 hours of paddling every day so I will not have time to even catch fish. I will have no time to look for food in the jungle.
But in 2014, I did special training in the jungle near Iquitos, where I have learned how to built a shelter. I learned to eat and to identify edible plants and fruits. That knowledge helps to survive in extreme situations. Anyway I believe that I will not have to use that knowledge. I do not want. I prefer to swim in a canoe ... and before ride 750 km by bike to the starting point.
Survival in nature is much easier; it is more difficult is to survive among people.
Explorersweb: Where will you meet up with Gadiel Sanchez Rivera (Cho)?
Marcin: I have already met with Choe in Lima when I was preparing my trip in 2014. I was inspired by his determination when he walked with Ed Stafford along the Amazon River. I offered him to join the project.
Choe will fly up the river to Puerto Ocopa and notify the local Indians that I will arrive later on. He will arrive around June 1 to San Francisco on Apurimack and from that place we will start to sail together. Later on I will start my solo expedition.
Explorersweb: Which previous Amazon expeditions have you followed or studied and what have you learned from them?
Marcin: I have studied all the expeditions that have been made on the Amazon. The one made by my friend Piotr Chmieliński who run the Amazon in 1985-1986, I want to do it 30 years after Piotr... I also want to recall his great feat.
I am in contact with Darcy Gaechter who did it in 2014 and with West Hansen from Texas, who rowed the Amazon River, too.
Also Olek Doba, who crossed the Atlantic in a kayak, gives me the information. Unfortunately Olek failed because he was attacked twice in Brazil. I'm also afraid the same would happen to me. I am afraid of people.
I have also analyzed Mike Horn's trip made in ’97. My good friend from Vancouver Colin Angus sent me his book, pointing out the part about the Amazon.
The expeditions on Amazon were made on foot or by kayak. But no one did such a distance in a canoe. This is my the biggest dream.
I have sailed the biggest Alaskan river, Yukon (3100km) in the canoe ,the whole Mackanzie River system (4000km) and Siberian river, the Lena (4328 km).
I went through the Mackenzie mountains (350 km), through Kolyma river on skis at - 53°C (600 km) and have crossed Australia by bicycle (from North to South), and the Sahara desert on camels in Mali.
The purpose of my next expedition is to cross in a canoe (traditional rowing boat or sail) of the Rio Napo and the world's largest river - the Amazon. All details can be found under Project Amazon in 2015, and for more information about me on the official website: www.gienieczko.pl
I became Energa Sports Ambassador because I want to promote physical activity and positive attitudes among children - especially the enjoyment of sport and personal development. Energa Sport ambassadors are people with outstanding sporting achievements - Olympic medalists, World Champions, European Champions, both players and athletes who are still active and those who have completed a career. They are always likely to be as a model and inspiration for children who want to be active; for which an important part of their life is a sport and recreation.
Project Amazon 2015 is divided into 2 stages. The goal of the one stage is to cross the world's longest river (Amazon) in canoe and run down one of the longest tributary of the Amazon Rio Napo. The other stage - from the Pacific to the Atlantic - starts in 5 May 2015. It will be the culmination of the whole preparation. I will start from Lima - cycling through the Andes for 750 km to Louisiana in the company of a car that will be carrying a canoe and equipment. Then, from Luis (Peru Ayacucho region famous for the production of drugs) to Belem (6130 km) I'll begin my lonely canoe rafting.
Website (follow his blog in the News Feed on Explorersweb)
Wiley Online Library Feb 2014:
Visit our new website