Former soldier completes 6,000-mile Amazon trek

Media caption,
Ed and Cho struggle with the lack of food

A Leicestershire man has completed a 6,000-mile (9,600 km) trek along the length of the Amazon.

Former soldier Ed Stafford dodged vipers, electric eels, and was wrongly accused of murder during his epic journey, which began in April 2008.

The 34-year-old, of Mowsley, walked from Peru to the coast of Brazil.

A spokeswoman for Mr Stafford said he had become the first person to have walked the entire length of the South American river.

The Amazon is about 4,000 miles long, but he travelled an extra 2,000 miles after being forced inland by flooding.

Mr Stafford began his 859-day journey at the summit of Mount Mismi, and has since suffered hundreds of wasp stings and endured an estimated 50,000 mosquito bites, while raising money for charity and increasing awareness of the river.

He said: "The endurance, both mental and physical, has been the thing that's been the most wearing.

"I've been quite humbled by how much I've had to rely on other people and I've benefited greatly from the generosity of the people I've met along the way.

"The interest in the expedition has been mind blowing and all the messages of support have kept me going - that and the desire to bring life in the Amazon to the wider world."

Five months into the trip Mr Stafford was joined by Peruvian forestry worker Gadiel "Cho" Sanchez Rivera who pledged to complete the expedition with him.

The ex-soldier wrote on Twitter: "Job done. 28 months and Cho and I have finished walking the Amazon. I always knew it was possible."

The pair have walked every day along the banks of the river living off piranha, rice and beans.

Mr Sanchez Rivera said: "I started walking with Ed at first because I felt a responsibility to try and help this crazy man through a very dangerous area with drugs traffickers and hostile tribes.

"But as the days went on I really enjoyed the simple life and Ed and I became good friends. It was not long before I knew that I wanted to complete the whole trip and walk with Ed right to the finish."

Mr Stafford said he was sometimes met with looks of "absolute terror" by locals who feared white people would harm them, and in one instance was detained by a village chief because he arrived shortly after a local man went missing.

The final leg of the trek proved one of the most challenging, with Mr Stafford collapsing at the side of the road a few hours before reaching the final destination.

British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has described both men's efforts as "truly extraordinary".

They reached the shores of the Maruda Beach in Belem at about 1300 BST.

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