Into the Drug Traffic Zone: Gienieczko started Amazon canoeing

Posted: Jun 01, 2015 12:09 pm EDT


(Correne Coetzer, updated June, 2, 2015, 5:25 am EDT, to reflect style)  "The month of June will be the most dangerous month in my life,” writes Marcin Gienieczko on his blog. Yesterday he started the Amazon stage of his 7000km crossing of South America at San Fransisco, Peru, located on the Apurimac River.



"I am afraid of people,” Marcin previously told Explorersweb in an interview, afraid that they will attack him. These people are the one’s in the cocaine trading area; in the “Narco Zone”, or “Red Zone.” The Zone that he has entered yesterday.


Cycling Stage


The Polish explorer completed his 677km cycle route from the Pacific Ocean across the Andes Mountains to the town of San Fransisco in Peru on May 29, in 13 days. 


He spent four nights at an altitude of 4000 m above sea level, and crossed Apacheta Pass at 4750 m. The altitude hit him hard with mountain sickness. Headaches and weakness grounded him for three days in Ayacucho. 


Marcin spent nine hours a day on his bike. The loops up the Andes were hard. His bicycle performs well on the gravel roads through the Jungle, he said, but the humidity made him sweat a lot.  


Around 12:30 local time on May 29, he reached San Francisco. "All the locals cannot get over how I could cross the mountains by bike." 


Amazon Stage


His support team drove his canoe to the start point. Marcin started the canoeing stage with local Amazon adventurer, Gadiel Sanchez Riviera ("Cho"), who walked with Ed Staffrord along the Amazon River, to accompany him through the Narco Zone to Atalaya.


That is not all that is challenging about this part of the Amazon, he added. The water level of the Apurimac is still very high although it is already summer. At night the roars are load because of the strong current. 


There are also powerful eddies that can pull the canoe. Therefore most important, Marcin said, is that he does not make a mistake. 


Tracker Position


Timestamp: 2015-06-01 T 12:54:29+0000 

ESN 0-8273849 

Latitude: -12.40999 

Longitude: -73.88937



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


"This is not a fast boat but a solid one,” he told Explorersweb. "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.”


Marcin says he is familiar with the Amazon as he had done some preparations there in 2014. Apart from canoeing, he was on 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 has also learned from several adventurers who had done the Amazon.



[Updated June, 2, 2015, 5:25 am EDT, to reflect style. Editor’s note: Marcin is claiming doing this expedition “solo”, but according to the Rules and Definitions of Adventure at AdventureStats, a solo expedition may not receive any assistance or car support. Marcin had a support car driving with on the cycling stage and Gadiel Sanchez Riviera (“Cho") is accompanying him for part of his Amazon canoeing.]






Marcin Gienieczko started 7000 km South American crossing


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)



Marcin’s pages:




South America traverse via Amazon website

(follow his blog in the News Feed on Explorersweb)










Charity (info below tracker map)
















After 13 gruelling days on his bicycle, Marcin with his bike and canoe on May 29.
courtesy Marcin Gienieczko, SOURCE
The canoe when it was still in Lima. Marcin started rowing on May 31 on the Rio Apurimac - through the Red Zone with "Cho".
courtesy Marcin Gienieczko, SOURCE
Marcin, two days before the end of his cycle route. He tells about the protesters in Peru who blocked the roads and were shot.
courtesy Marcin Gienieczko, SOURCE
7000km Pacific to Atlantic route via the Amazon. Marcin completed the light blue section on his bicycle and started the darker blue Amazon section. (click to expand)
courtesy Marcin Gienieczko, SOURCE