San Francisco (no flowers in our hair!)

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What a ride! What a river! What an experience! The team arrived safely to San Francisco on Tuesday with a chance to recover physically and perhaps more importantly emotionally and spiritually from a clinch with the Apurimac we will never forget. The last 2 weeks since our put-in back at Playa Rosalina near Cachora has been the most taxing of our lives. However we are now all safe and well, playing catch-up with posts, photos, video, expedition emails and by far the most important, contact with family and loved ones. Where to begin…

The day after we said our good-byes to Mario and Scotty, we began our 5 hour march down to the river and the put-in at Playa Rosalina. This was done with a mix of excitement and some nerves (well, I for one was shitting myself!). It had been nearly a week since we had been on river, we were a man down and about to face the most challenging and difficult section of the Apurimac so far.

We camped near a small bridge that is a relatively busy thoroughfare for trekking groups visiting Inca ruins in the area and saw a few tourists who were all inquisitive as to our intentions. The bridge is also a checkpoint of sorts, with the local sheriff wanting to see our papers authorizing us to take to the water. Of course these papers do not exist but with help from an official letter from the Australian Consul in Peru confirming that we all had valid visas and passports, (naturally), we abated this problem.

 At put-in the following day we were all very nervous but with the knowledge we had been through much so far and the determination to succeed, we got on with it. The few locals watched us paddle off downstream. Within sight of the bridge and within 2 mins of taking to the water, the boat flipped! What a completing heart-splitting experience! The Apurimac was now a totally different animal. Rapids and lines that before we could read and accurately predict their power were now faster, stronger and more dangerous than ever. The hole that flipped us was I dread to say…small. If this is what happens here…what lies ahead over the next 2 weeks? More isolated, bigger, more technical rapids. We just did not know and I am not ashamed to say, we were scared.

The rest of this day continued on with big holes and many technical lines to run. It was a day that we lived on tenterhooks and a day we will not soon forget. If this sounds dramatic and you are reading this thinking Jeez Mark, talk it up why don’t ya, then I can assure you that I am trying to give the most sobering and accurate portrayal of our last 2 weeks. Please do not forget that. This tale needs no embelishment, you can trust me on that one. Even writing this and reliving the events that took place is difficult. I am having a crack at it cause Nathe for one still feels so emotional about the whole thing that he believes he would have trouble re-telling it. So there!

Our next day on river was a lot of scouting and still a lot of nerves. It was taking a little time to get settled again on river. Not comfortable, but reading the water, picking lines and so on.

The following days were the most intense and continuous white water that any of us has experienced in our careers.

Our first rapid upon awakening was for all intents unscoutable and most definitely unportagable. The afternoon before, upon arriving in camp however Nathe, being Nathe (which on river is the best thing to have with you), scaled a loose rock face and attempted the best scout he could. The rapid itself he could see but the canyon walls rose so sharply that what lay beyond was still unknown. More class 5? Flat water? Something else?

We ran the rapid and flipped big! We swam big! But everyone was ok and we got the boat right side up on the (thankfully) flat water that followed. A bit shaken, Phil lost a Teva Sunkosi, but otherwise fine.

Next up, was a huge, again (of course) unportagable, 4-drop rapid all neatly or not so neatly fitted into a narrow gorge. This we ran with a perfect line. Following this was an array of short drops and big holes which all graciously allowed to pass.

The next flip of the day was on the standard big mo-fo Apurimac hole. We attempted to make river left and the chicken run (N.B chicken run on the Apurimac is a little tougher than your standard). We didn’t make it. More swimming, short flatwater, righted boat and on we went.

Nathe and I went to scout the next rapid. Again, huge. Again unportagable. A must make move to river left and a narrow, steep chute. Unfortunately most of the Apurimac was insisting we go middle right into a deadly siphon that eats boats and crews for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was too much for me. We had already flipped twice and now this? I literally went down on one knee and cried. For that instant I was beaten. If we did not make this move that was it. I do not mean the expedition was over, I mean our lives were over. I cried that all I wanted was to see Hol again, that is all I wanted. Nathe was awesome. He assured me he was with me all the way, that we would take each rapid as it came and we would look after each other. I composed myself and off we went. What choice did I have?

We ran it. The strongest and best back paddle of our lives pulled us from the clutches of the siphon and neatly slotted us through the chute. We nailed it!

More big holes followed and we made camp soon after. We checked out the rapid to face early next morning massive, multi-drop, multi-hole, dire consequences when swimming.

This was too much for me to endure and I once more broke down. How can I explain the feelings I had? We had flipped so many times, swum so many times, but still made it through each time. Was this skill? Awareness? Strength? Or was it luck? Chance? If it was the latter then with so many rapids yet to run, so much river yet to negotiate, that luck was sure to run out. I cried with all my heart. Not a cry of simply sadness, but of fear. Fear of not seeing my mum, Bazza and my bro, my mates and my girlfriend. Piotr had told us the river always wins and right there and then this was more than evident. But there was an upside. Phil got a pic and some film of this big, bearded bloke crying like a little kid. Sweet! Great footage and I am not even close to ashamed for all to see and know it. The Apurimac is the kinda river that will do this to a man and do it with ease.

The next day started on a happy note. While Phil and I were still sleeping Nathe slipped into the river fully clothed. Doh! When we awoke just after 6am he was already in wetsuit and all. We both thought, this okes keen.

Of course we had the hella rapid to run. There was a definite, if tight line to take. Off we went. Half into position we spotted that our net bag for all the gear was not cammed to the boat in any way! This would have been disasterous. If we ran the rapid like that all our gear would have been lost in an instant and no doubt taken at least one of us with it. So with the gear securely cammed we tried again. Nice one boys, very professional.

Our line was not perfect but it was ok. Not good enough and in an instant a big, white monster grabbed the heavy boat and flipped us like it was nothing. We were in and swimming at the top of a rapid with 3 massive holes. Plenty of down time had by all. I was pulled to river left and swam to a semi-submerged rock. Nathe and Phil took the middle line (not by choice mind!). They swam 3 big holes and a forth smaller one on river right. The boat is still surfing the rapid as the paddles pass by. Phil makes it to river right quite high and Nathe a bit further downstream. Out pops the boat and fortunately wraps further down. As was becoming the usual drill we righted the boat and set off again. We lost 3 paddles and snapped a blade clean off the shaft of a spare. We were down to 4 paddles total. By some miracle, many km’s further on we found 2 of the paddles waiting patiently for us in an eddy. Sweet!

Soon, the river got much bigger and much wider. The sides became less steep and the surroundings resembled a desert environment, more akin to the Grand Canyon than Peru. The Rio Pachachaca joined us from river left and we camped not far beyond a bridge, Puente Pasaje. A sigh of relief to have made it through another day.

Our fifth day back on river began with a 6 hour portage of a unrunable rapid. The portage was short but intense. Dragging the boat and all our gear over, under and through giant boulders really took it out of us. We managed to paddle another few kilometres to make camp at a great flat sandy site in a canyon.

The next day we reached another mini-milestone with the Rio Pampas entering from river left and our entry into so called Sendero country, the region where the Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path communist guerillas used to be quite active. So now we had nerves from the river and nerves from men with guns. Excellent. The difference is this. We see the Apurimac as a friend, albeit a big, strong friend who occasionally plays a bit rough, but a friend nonetheless. Okes with guns are not our friends. Clear enough?

Today the wide river makes big holes more easily avoidable and chicken runs more accessible. We still managed to find a big hole and flip. Phil fell out of the boat before the boat flipped, was recycled twice and managed to be the last to leave the hole behind us and the boat. Not fun.

Here is where the story gets a little scary and maybe even a little exciting. Read on (if you dare!)

Day 7 began where the previous day left off. A big wide river, some holes easily avoidable, but for the most part flat water with the occasional long wave train. We scouted from the boat each and everyone of these. Approaching midday we came to yet another very long wave train, scouted from the top and on we went. It quickly became clear that something was different, something was wrong. The long class 3/4 rapid quickly dropped what appeared in front of us was almost beyond belief. The river, which not 100m upstream had been a large volume, wide river was being channelled through a chute not more 2 boat widths across! It just did not seem possible. We were running an easy middle line of the wave train and had to do something. We tried to get to river right, made it but the current was much too strong. We were only 30 or so metres above this monster. We tried to reverse ferry to river left with even less success. This was it. The river had us. The river had won. There was no escape and no survival if we passed through the gates of foaming mass ahead. Mine and I can guarantee everyone’s thoughts were of our certain demise. It sucked us in. This rapid was class 6, unrunnable, unscoutable, no-freaking way out!

By some miracle we made the first drop. However the entire river was then pushed to the right of this tiny gap and onto a rock wall. We of course went with it, high into the air and in an instant the boat was over and into the final hole. Our down time broke all our previous records (not one of those records you like to break all that often, or ever!). I remember kicking, trying to make the surface. It was just not happening. Remember we are wearing Kokatat Ronin Pro PFDs, the best high-flotation vests available on the planet. The water just grabbed us and took us deep. All the struggling and fighting had no effect. Phil recalls how he eventually became strangely calm. He had done all he could and to no avail. It really seemed for all of us that the game was up. All over. I do not mean to sound flippant but it was that simple and if I do not think of it this way it is too much to even write about. It is all I can do now to relive it. This is very hard.

But, we did surface. The hole released us. Nathe and I to river left and Phil to river right. The boat popped out behind us. I made an eddy. Nathe was behind where the boat also followed. The water was pushing with great force against the sheer cliffs either side. He made it up onto the boat, but the boat re-entered the main current and began to head around the next corner into the unknown with Nathe on top. We knew from previous experience the boat was much to heavy for Nathe to flip alone. He made the quick decision to attach his throw bag to the boat and swim to the river edge. However the banks were almost sheer cliffs. He held on with a finger tip grasp. He was slipping. It just happened that directly above him were some fisherman. They tried to help with a rope. They wanted Nathe to grab their rope. He wanted them to grab the throw bag attached to the boat. They could not understand. They wanted to rescue the man, not the boat. This I can understand. The boat was at the full length of rope and teetered on an eddy line. A couple more metres of rope and it would have swung into a large eddy. It was not to be. The boat slipped from Nathe’s grasp and took off down the river. The rapids that followed were long, class 4. There was no way the boat could be stopped. Nathe tried to give chase but it was an impossible task. The sides went from sheer cliffs to a myriad of boulders. The boat ran a long rapid and disappeared around the corner far away to who knew where.

I was still river left and tried to find a way further downstream. I could not. I made the decision to swim across to river right. I had lost a shoe in the flip. Phil was still in the water and slowly making his way along the base of the cliffs on river right. By the time I got across Nathe and Phil were on the corner where the boat disappeared. We were all shaken but uninjured and well enough.

We needed to get around that corner. The only track went inland and then high above the river. We set off. By now I had discarded my remaining show and was barefoot amongst broken branches, cactus and sharp thorns littering the ground. It took 45 mins to reach a point above the river where we might see the boat. We were absolutely exhausted. Nathe spotted the boat. From our vantage point it seemed simply stuck on a small rock shelf on river right about 3 km downstream from the flip. We were all very emotional and hugged amongst some tears. We thought everything might just be ok.

Now the area we were in was extremely isolated. Problems here meant big problems! No phones and almost no people. Making it back down to the river we searched for the boat. From river right and around the corner Nathe could not spot where the boat had been. He signalled this to Phil and I. We needed to get to the other side to get a clear view. I swam across above another big long rapid. It took close to 40 minutes to eventually reach the boat. It was not a pretty site. Our view from above had failed to reveal the full scenario. The boat, sure enough was stuck on a small rock shelf, however what became clear was its position in the river. Running fast and wide on river left was a long, class 4 rapid. Then the long rock shelf with the boat upside down about 2/3 the way down. What was not possible to see from the cliffs above was the still faster running class 3/4 rapid separating the rock shelf from the river’s edge on the right. The boat was unreachable and not retrievable. I could not believe it. I stared for a long time. I could not see how we could even get close to the boat, with reasonable safety to even attempt to free it. I headed back upstream to tell tell the boys. By this time, Phil had also swum over to my side. With signals and shouting I explained the situation to Nathe. It was decided we would spend the night with the boat to see if it came free, due to rising water levels and also try and make a plan. Nathe joined us.We spent the our time in the day’s fading light staring at the boat. We were tired and devastated, but just happy to be alive, let alone uninjured. The rapid we had flipped on a few km’s upstream was not one that 3 people enter and 3 people emerge from unscathed. How we did, we will never know. The thing was what nightmares are made of. It even has a name, Powac. What this means we are not sure, but I tell you what, to us it looks a lot like Power and thats exactly what it was.

What we could not understand was how we had not heard about it. Nathe’s research into this section of the Apurimac was extensive. We had bits and pieces of information about much smaller rapids and river features but absolutely nothing regarding this. As well, the rapid was all but unportagable and unscoutable. The wave train we entered began 100m or more above the final chute. There was no reason to even think that what lay below it was this beast. Even if we had scouted for such a long way and found it, on its other side were sheer cliffs. It would have been close to impossible to portage. It weighed heavily on our minds as the sun went down. Had we become complacent and then almost died because of it?

We would take it in shifts to watch the raft. If it freed itself, it was possible we could reach it quickly enough in some slow water below the rapid. It soon became clear this was not going to happen, it was a pitch black night with lightning and thunder rolling in. Rain soon began. We had no shelter. Phil was in the open and I wedged my upped body under a boulder in a vain attempt to at least keep a part of me dry.

Nathe tried to watch the boat, only possible to see whenever lightning appeared. As the lightning became less and less there was no point. He found a small cave high up the bank. It was here we spent the night. Not sleeping mind, but at least we were dry.

Early in the morning we again found ourselves staring at the boat. This time heart and gut-wrenching. We decided that a retrieval attempt under such conditions in such an isolated area was just too dangerous. By some miracle we had escaped the day before with our lives. There was little point in throwing them away just as quickly. As we walked away upstream of the boat, we kept staring back. This was it. The boat and everything on it and about it was our life. We had the clothes we were wearing and nothing else. No money, no passports, no satellite phone, no cameras…no boat. We were in a bad spot.

Soon after swimming back across the river we were met by two fisherman. They saw our state and took us with them to eat. They fed us massive amounts of fish and yuca or sweet potato along with sweet tea. It seemed they almost saved our lives. Then they offered to trek with us to the closest village with a telephone, a mere 6 hours walk all uphill. From here it was an 8 hour drive to Cusco. Our thoughts and emotions were a mess. I talked to Phil about not being able to handle being back in Cusco trying to make a plan to go on. To start again with nothing. I made up my mind to get to Cusco, book a flight to Lima, a flight from Lima to home and that was that. It was just too much. Phil was the same. Nathe was more guarded with his thoughts but just as devastated as the both of us.

We spent the day with the fisherman and planned to start the walk out at 3pm. As we began, the fisherman kept asking about the raft. They were sure they could help us free it. But, they had not even seen where it was. They may have known the river, but we know whitewater, we knew the consequences of getting it wrong. Climbing out of the valley, one of them took some time to take off and get a look at the raft near to where we had spotted it. He came back excited and even more adamant they could do it. We were very reluctant. What if one of these okes dies or was injured trying to get the boat? But in our desperation we agreed to one try the next morning. If it was not possible they would take us to the telephone. The night was spent in the local settlement where they fed us and gave us a tarp and blankets to sleep on. What a night! Better than the cave but a night of torment and a flicker of hope to see our boat again.

Morning arrived none too soon, time dragged as breakfast (for which we were massively grateful) was prepared before we headed down to the river at around 9am. This time being with the locals we were able to get down to the boat from river right. No matter, the story was much the same. Massive, fast water separated us on both sides from the boat. The initial look on the fisherman’s faces said it all. But quickly they seemed positive they could get their balsa rafts into position above the boat and get to the rock shelf. It was just too risky to let these guys attempt it, without helmets and without PFDs. Regardless, we were right there and Nathe was damned if we were leaving without giving it a shot. As well, the scenario from river right was marginally better than river left. Dire consequences still, but with more hope of a successful outcome.

We would approach the attempt with our safety foremost in mind and screw the boat if need be. As high above the rapid as I could, I took the single paddle we had not lost (shoved down the back of my PFD) and swam like mad to cross to river left. I was to set up the only safety we would have below the rapid. Oh yes, our rescue equipment consisted of one good throw bag, one shitty throw bag, a large assortment of prussiks and about 8 to 10 biners. It would have to do.

Phil and Nathe would enter the river above the rapid and allow themselves to be taken directly towards it, correcting their descent as necessary to hit the beginnings of the rock shelf above the charging whitewater. A highly risky move, but the only way to have any chance of reaching the boat. If they did indeed make it to the rock shelf, could then make their way some 30 or 40m downstream to the boat. If the boat would not budge, it meant a bad, bad swim through the bottom half of the rapid through massive holes. Did I say this was risky? Because of this potential outcome, Nathe decided that he would go alone in the first instance. If he could make it to the boat and could not free it then Phil would then join him. This minimised risk.

I signalled Nathe that I was in position. He walked upstream some and entered the river. Phil helped him position himself so he would hit the rock shelf and not be pulled into the mad water on each side. After some hairy moments he made it. Sometimes swimming and sometimes jumping from rock to rock Nathe edged his way down to the boat. Between himself and the boat lay 2 wide, fast flowing channels to negotiate. The first he traversed by inching his way across finding as good hand and footholds as he could. The second was wider and much too fast to do the same. The only way possible was to jump into a small, messy eddy that had formed close by. Off he went. He swam with all his might. He was so close to the rock shelf, then it became too much, he was being pulled out of the eddy and straight into the fast water. It looked all over. Then a mighty final burst got him back into the eddy and he flung his hands out to grab the rocks. He made it across the channel and a bit closer to the boat. Not there yet though. Negotiating some more widely spaced boulders Nathe climbed onto the boat’s upturned hull and collapsed. He had made it.

We could see Nathe test the extent of the wrap. The boat had some movement. A push here and a pull there managed to shift the angle of the boat somewhat, but it still held fast. Nathe retrieved a throw bag from the boat and used it to pull at the boat. As he did so he slipped backwards off a rock and took a massive tumble down the rock shelf and straight back onto the eddy line and almost back into the fast water. With another Herculean effort he hauled himself back up. He was hurt and crawled once more onto the boat. So it continued, shoving, pulling, lifting, Nathe was exhausted. But little by little the boat was moving. Could we allow ourselves that thought that maybe it would be freed? Next thing, it was! The boat was pulled down the rock shelf as Nathe threw himself onto it. We were not out of this yet. He had to ride this upside down boat through the rest of the rapids. I readied my throw bag but it was clear he would come out far to river right out of reach. I grabbed the paddle and dived into the remnants of the rapids to swim to the boat. Fortunately, there was a long stretch of flatwater below. I joined Nathe on the boat and with the help of one of the young locals and his balsa raft got into a eddy. We had our boat, we had our home and we had our lives.

Next we needed to know what was left of our gear. Was there anything to salvage? Was all the electronic gear ruined? We flipped the raft…gear bags, duffles, medical kits, safety bag, Storm Cases…it was all there! Nathe broke down and we hugged each other (in a manly fashion of course). This was too much. We had gone from an instant of losing everything, of having the expedition all but over to having our boat, our gear, the lot. We quickly checked the Storm Cases. High-def camera? Not a drop of water. Secondary video camera and still camera? The same. BGAN? Ditto. Laptop? Sweet! We were stoked. Of course all our clothes etc were soaked, but who cares. The show would go on!

Phil who saw events unfold from close to the action on river left arrived with the locals soon after. He too was estatic. We began the arduous (mind you there was not the slightest complaint) task of removing all gear from bags and boxes to dry. Some things like the Sony HD camera did not have a drop of water on them. Nathe’s personal drybag contents was soaked through, as was Phils. Mine was only damp to halfway down. Everything did need a good airing though.

At the time of the flip we had the VIO helmet cam attached to the front of the raft. It was still there with a few scratches, unfortunately the cable connecting to the Storm Case via an o-ring we had sealed with silicon was pulled out. This left a hole in the case. Through here, water had pumped for almost 2 days. The handycam inside was naturally ruined. On the upside, the helmet cam itself was fine. While we were sorting out our gear, one of our new found friends decided to use Phil’s Benchmade river knife to peel an orange and ended up peeling more than just the orange. He was left with a big cut on his left hand and luckily the medical kit was right there. Phil was quick to help him out and ended up with 3 stitches. Very neat needle work and a quick lesson in sutering for nathe and I.

So with our gear laid out in the sun to dry we gathered up a few things after changing out of our wetsuits we had worn for 3 days straight and headed back to spend the night once more with our local friends. Such a different night. Same nice food, same tarp and blankets to sleep on, but what a totally opposing mindset to 24 hours previous. We slept well that night (to wake at 3am when the rooster started up). We thanked our friends for their hospitality and returned to the boat, packed it once again and set off. Almost immediately we faced a massive, long class 4/5 run. The biggest holes you will ever see. We made a bunch of technical turns and moves and left the rapid, narrowly avoiding a monster hole at the bottom. Several more in the same vein followed. We found a great beach campsite after hitting long stretches of flatwater in the afternoon. As we brewed our tea, out of the forest came our first man with gun. He first tended to his boat and then approached. He was not threatening and the rifle was slung on his back the whole time. He was a friendly oke who lived just behind the beach site who I guess really just wanted to know who we were and what we were up to. Fair enough I reckon. The environment now had really changed to jungle with a heap more birds and insects around.

The next day another mini-milestone was reached by paddling into Villa Virgen. Here we spotted our first boats with engines and Phil and myself ventured into the village to get biscuits and Inca Kola. Sweet! (literally). Some kilometres later we made camp on a large, permanent island on the river. Sorry Piotr, but this one was huge with plenty of high ground that would not disappear overnight. We promise not to do it again. Why argue with this guy, he has been right every other time.

We now hit more and more long stretches of flatwater. There was also a massive increase in the number of people by the river and many more small villages. In the early afternoon, 3 big, shiny and new Huey helicopters flew directly over us before turning off. We guessed them to be government choppers so generously funded by the US to fight the war on terror. Sorry I mean drugs. We found a decent camping area and set about erecting tents and making tea and dinner. At around 5.30pm, I was lying in the open on my Insulmat and the boys were around the fire. We all heard a definite crack or pop. It may have been a gunshot but it was along way off and we dismissed it. As night came it came again. This time much louder from the opposite bank and I heard the bullet whiz overhead. Oh shit, I hope that was a warning shot and not just a bad aim. What could we do? It was dark, our tents were up, dinner was on. We decided to stay put. There was nothing more, but getting around with headlamps on seemed to make one an attractive target. Throughout the night, there was torches roaming the hills, boats and not balsa rafts would motor towards us. When they were close they would turn off the engine and cut their lights to drift past. Once well past off they would go again. This was pretty freaky. After such goings on I figured the shot was just one to say, we are moving about at night now, so you aventurers stay where you are and everyone is happy. No worries there fellas. We were not going to poke our noses about in this area for sure. Where we were and now also are is deep in the main coca and thereby cocaine producing area of Peru. Not the place to start getting a moral concience regarding the harmful effects of drugs on society. Not surprisingly we were on the water in record time the next morning.

Within a couple of easy hours we had reached San Francisco. For us, this marks the official end of the whitewater and the beginning of the flatwater, a major milestone in our journey to the Atlantic Ocean. When the frame arrives we will assemble the jigsaw that it is, finalise our food supplies, send off our last emails and off we go. Back on the water. Awesome.

The biggest problem we have right now has been with our replacement solar panels. If you recall these were lost waaaaay back in the Black Canyon when the boat was wrapped and a drybag split and offered up its contents to the Apurimac. We decided that replacing them, while super expensive was the best decision. The panels were bought in Australia at great cost and sent to Petronio in Lima. We knew there would be duty to be paid for sure. Paperwork also. But the last 2 weeks trying to extract them from the clutches of the Peruvian customs okes has been ridiculous! First, not the right paperwork. We got that sorted. Ok, we now must pay 30% duty of the total cost. This works out to something close to $1000 US! What? Ok, we swallowed that bitterly. Oh, wrong paperwork filled out, come back with the right ones. We employed the services of a customs agent at further cost to try to help. Ok, now we are looking at $1150 US. Done? No, Petronio cannot receive the goods, he must go to a tax agent and fill more forms and the cost went up further. Are you kidding me? It has just become too much. Petronio has been amazing. He runs his own busy travel company and he has been racing around daily trying to help out. So as we stand now the solar panels will be sent back to Australia, possibly never to be used on the expedition. Funnily enough with the Peruvian customs mob losing out on the $1000 US they would have received. If anyone has any ideas it would be much appreciated. Not having the panels really affects our ability to charge all our gear. We can do it in towns we pass but that really slows us down. Another obstacle to overcome.

So…an overall feeling amongst the team? Stoked! Relieved! Tired! Over the last few days of being here I think we have all experienced a whole raft (excuse the pun) of emotions. The journey so far has been amazing, exhausting and beyond anything that we thought possible. To have run the Rio Apurimac is (to us and those who know) a major achievement. Class 5 rapids here is not the same as on the Zambezi. Get it wrong here and…well you read the post. You can prepare yourselves for hardship, big rapids, massive treks, losing gear, finding gear, the lot…but the last 50 days has been something else altogether.

This expedition has changed all of us…forever (oh, for the better let me assure you!).

Thanks for everyone’s comments and thoughts so far, particularly over the last 2 weeks. They help to drive us on like you cannot believe. Keep them coming.

Viva El Peru!

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