In June of 2012, Davey du Plessis set out on an extraordinary mission: to be the first to make a solo expedition from the source of the Amazon River to where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
The proposed expedition would take the 24-year old self-described “wonderer” and adventurer over 1000 kilometers (just hiking and cycling) and roughly 5700 km paddling on the second largest river in the world. During his journey, Davey planned to gather data and perform research for the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation Organization’s South American Wildlands & Biodiversity project.
Davey’s South American journey began last June with a 24-hour plane ride from South Africa to the bustling Peruvian metropolis of Lima. After landing, Davey spent the next three days planning in detail the remainder of his journey (and most likely recovering from jet lag).
From Lima, Davey boarded a bus for Arequipa. Upon his arrival, he biked 145 km to Chivay, the town closest to Mount Mismi and the source of the Amazon. After summiting Mount Mismi, which has an altitude of 1800 meters, Davey began to paddle the Amazon from a launch point of Kiteni, Peru.
For his journey, du Plessis selected Folbot’s Kodiak model for its portability and space to hold all of his gear. Davey had estimated he’d be traveling for 19 days and recognized that at certain points along the river he would have to walk through dense jungle. A traditional non-folding kayak would have been impossible to transport and an incompatible traveling companion.
Soon after launching, Davey was greeted by locals and local wildlife alike, including a giant sea otter and a capuchin monkey. Davey was also met by some of the Amazon’s toughest rapids. Undeterred, he continued on, committed to accomplishing the source to sea expedition.
Perhaps the sheer enormity of the Amazon is what has enticed explorers and adventurers to conquer the monster river since the 1500s. But, like the wild and powerful anacondas that inhabit its waters, the Amazon’s draw is not without its dangers…
Roughly a week into his journey, Davey was shot while paddling in his kayak. Despite the presence of bullets in his skull, spine, neck and arms, Davey survived after swimming to shore, running 5km and eventually being helped many hours after sustaining injury. Today, Davey has fully recovered from his injuries and resumed his “normal” adventurous lifestyle of hiking, biking, surfing and kayaking.