Walking the Amazon and The Why Behind the Motivation of High-Risk Adventurers and Explorers
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Walking the Amazon and The Why Behind the Motivation of High-Risk Adventurers and Explorers

Explorers push the limits to accomplish high risk adventures, either to be the first or to simply explore what is out there.

On August 9, 2010 Ed Stafford with his Peruvian companion Gadiel "Cho" Sanchez Rivera completed a feat no one has ever done before, for 860 days they walked the length of the Amazon River.

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world by volume and an expedition conducted by Brazilian scientists in 2007 put it to be the longest river as well next to the African Nile. The Amazon and its river is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on earth. So why would someone armed with only a satellite dish and a Peruvian guide decide to risk his life and embark on this perilous adventure?

In an ABC news interview when asked why he did it, Ed Stafford simply said, "As soon as they said 'that's impossible,' it made me want to prove them wrong." They also mentioned in their blog walking the amazon during the early days of the trip with his original companion Luke that they wanted to do it because no one has ever done it before. Most of the time this is the magic word that triggers those firsts, first to climb the Everest, first to circumnavigate the world, first to cross the arctic. All of these have been attempted and most have succeeded. None of them without danger.

Most people when hearing about these adventures would oftentimes think, why put themselves in unnecessary danger just to be the first? The answer just because it's there will probably never be enough to an average persons mind but to these adventurers or explorers, call them whatever you want to call them, this one reason most of the time is enough.

Perhaps we may gain better understanding through Benedict Allen's definition of an explorer.

Why do you call yourself an “explorer” in this day and age?

“At one level of course we are all explorers - whether working in a Zurich bank, or wandering the forests of Borneo. That’s what makes us human: the desire to push our limits and investigate our surroundings is something we all do naturally. But there are also two types of professional “explorer.” Firstly, there are scientists, those whose job it is to piece together rationally how our world works. And secondly there are specialists who also discover new things in remote terrain but whose focus is perception, in the subjective, in how we respond emotionally or intellectually to alien places and people. This is where people like me come in: as I see it, my job is to go to unknown, little known or misunderstood parts of the planet and describe and challenge our ideas about them. But whichever type of explorer you are the difference between you and, say, someone travelling as a tourist, traveller, adventurer or a Polar sportsman, is that you set out with the specific objective of systematically tackling that frontier of knowledge and – here’s an equally important bit – you then report back your findings.”

Benedict Allen believed in exploring these remote places not merely as an observer but becoming a part of the culture and environment he was exploring. He didn't believe in bringing with him modern contrapcions to make his adventures more comfortable. In a sense he plunged head on au naturelle. Ironically though his explorations, when he finally conceded to bringing a camera along to film his adventures, started the documentary film genre in television. 

What people like Ed Stafford and Benedict Allen have done and will continue doing is not merely for personal satisfaction although clearly it's a part ot it. They have become our eyes to terrain, people and environment which otherwise we wouldn't have heard nor known about in the safety of our homes. In the same way some of these adventurers have shown us other horrible ways to die than being hit by a truck.

Still, the knowledge of danger ahead is never a deterrent, sometimes it seems the fuel to continue and find other extreme ways of besting previous adventures. In the words of Ben Saunders, an athlete who managed to cross the north pole alone by ski in severe weather condition, we must never stop pushing the limits of what our bodies can do.






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