Unlike many current first descents, the discovery (by Europeans) and first descent of the Amazon was mostly accidental. In 1541 Francisco de Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro departed Quito in search of “El Dorado” in northeast Ecuador. The promise of huge amounts of gold and cinnamon (greed) spurred Orellana to embark on this crazy expedition. Of course you would not want to go discovering alone back then so they took with them over 200 Spanish Conquistadors, 4,000 natives, 500 dogs to hunt food and more natives, 1,000 pigs, and hundreds of horses.
This week we had an incredible crew of river explorers from a wide variety of places–Oregon, Utah, Caymen Islands, Canada, Colorado and Arizona. There was Jeff, the Ultimate Fighter (his kick ass shirt compliments of a thrift store–Jeff, awesome buy!), his daughter Madi, David and son Matt, Mike, Peter, Phil and Kayla.
But now, more on the expedition from Larry:
Eight months and more than 2,400 miles later Orellana and his men reached the Atlantic, becoming the first Europeans to boat the complete distance of the Amazon, from the Andes in the west to the ocean. They sailed north to the Caribbean into Spanish territory and eventually Orellana made his way back to Spain with his account of the first decent of the Amazon. Many people claim the origins of the Amazon to be in Peru since that is where the highest headwaters originate; however, the discovery of the river from Northern Ecuador gave it a legitimate claim as the origin as well.
But, if one thing really separates Small World Adventures’ kayakers from Orellana’s team it’s that he didn’t get a cold beer when he reached the Atlantic! We don’t want our kayakers suffering like that, so a cooler at the take-out is protocol.