British man becomes first to walk Amazon length

Mon Aug 9, 2010 12:28pm EDT
 
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By Douglas Engle

MARUDA BEACH, Brazil (Reuters) - A former British army captain became on Monday the first known person to walk from the origin of the Amazon river to its mouth, after enduring "50,000" mosquito bites, attacks by hostile Indians and tropical disease in his nearly 2-1/2 year odyssey.

Ed Stafford, a 34-year-old from Leicestershire, England, dived into the Atlantic Ocean after taking 859 days to walk the length of the world's second-longest river, starting at the peak of Mount Mismi in Peru in April 2008.

"It's just phenomenal to be here at the end of the journey after 2-1/2 years slogging our way through the jungle," he told Reuters after arriving at the beach about 90 miles northeast of the Brazilian city of Belem.

"It was really difficult to envisage how this was going to feel and I'm completely overwhelmed."

Stafford briefly collapsed from exhaustion with only 52 miles of the 6,000-mile journey to go, passing out by the roadside after breaking out in a rash.

"I feel slightly humbled that my system just decided to shut down so close to the finish," he wrote on his blog at www.walkingtheamazon.com.

Stafford has aimed to use the walk to raise awareness about the threats to the Amazon rain forest and its people, using a portable satellite video to blog about his trek.

He had planned to complete the walk in about a year, but the journey was prolonged by floods that forced him to walk a roundabout route that was 2,000 miles longer than the 4,000-mile (6,400-km) length of the Amazon, which is exceeded in length only by Africa's Nile river.   Continued...

 
<p>Ed Stafford of Leicestershire, England walks in between trees as he walks through the Amazon jungle in Brazil in this undated handout photo. Former British army captain Stafford became on Monday the first known person to walk from the origin of the Amazon river, the world's second-longest river, to its mouth, after withstanding "50,000" mosquito bites, scorpion attacks and skin disease in his 859 day odyssey. REUTERS/Handout</p>