"I had never been to the Amazon ... but it had a mystique all of its own. Surely the trees would be much bigger, the wildlife had to be much richer and more diverse and the people would be that bit wilder and cut off from the outside world. It gave me butterflies to think of spending time in the Amazon."
On a lark, Ed Stafford and his friend, Luke Collyer, decided to walk the entire length of the Amazon River, all 4,345 miles of it. It'd be a first. No one had ever done it before. They thought it might take them a year. Instead, it took Ed 860 days. (Luke quit after 3 months.) Ed experienced mosquitoes, wasps, and snakes, heat and humidity, blistered and infected feet, flooded forests, hospitality and hostility, hunger, exhilaration, depression, boredom and fear. But through it all, he never considered giving up.
There's something about the Amazon that I find fascinating. I like to read about it and imagine going there someday, but I'd never want to walk it like Stafford did. (I'm not a fan of mud or bugs or snakes or 100% humidiy.) Walking the Amazon is both an interesting and readable memoir; Stafford does a good job of chronicling his long journey, but he focuses more on the day to day logistics--the guides, and tribes, money, gear and food, miles trekked, and the problems encountered along the way--than on the Amazon River itself and the surrounding rain forest. I would have liked a little more description, for him to paint a better picture of where he was walking, and what he saw. There's some. Just not enough for me. It's still a really good read. But I'd have to give it a B+ rather than an A for that reason.
Two other books about the Amazon that I enjoyed even more than this one: