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Amazon adventurer Ed Stafford back in the UK

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media captionAmazon adventurer Ed Stafford arrives at Heathrow

An adventurer who completed a 6,000 mile (9,600 km) trek along the length of the River Amazon has returned to the UK.

Ed Stafford, 34, had to contend with vipers and electric eels and was also wrongly accused of murder during his journey, which began in April 2008.

The former soldier, of Mowsley, Leicestershire, walked from Peru to the Brazilian coast in 859 days.

He described his return as "fantastic and slightly overwhelming".

"I never thought this expedition trip would get so much recognition," Mr Stafford said.

"I'm quite proud, I have to say."

He was welcomed at Heathrow Airport by his mother, Barbara.

He is the first Briton known 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.

Piranha and rice

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.

Speaking at Heathrow Airport, Mr Stafford said: "People think the things that were hardest were the dangerous things.

"We've thrived in all the times where there's been danger - they've been the most exciting times. And the time's flown and we've absolutely loved that.

"It sounds a bit perverse, but the times we found the hardest have definitely been the monotony.

"Day after day after day of jungle conditions, of putting on your wet clothes in the morning and walking all day long with a heavy pack on."

He began his journey at the summit of Mount Mismi and endured hundreds of wasp stings and an estimated 50,000 mosquito bites while raising money for charity.

He and Mr Rivera walked every day along the banks of the river, living off piranha, rice and beans.

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.

The two men reached the shores of the Maruda Beach in Belem at about 1300 BST on Monday.

Mr Stafford said he hopes to take part in another expedition next year.

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