||Nathan Welch and Mark Kalch Navigate the Amazon
At the stroke of midnight on the 21st February, Nathan Welch and Mark Kalch became just the 4th team in history to successfully navigate the Amazon River – the longest and one of the most dangerous rivers on the planet. Their six month expedition began from the Amazon's first drop of water high in the Peruvian Andes and finished 6870km away at the Atlantic Ocean off the Brazilian coastline.
The two intrepid adventurers finally dragged their 14ft inflatable raft through knee deep Amazonian mud and pouring rain to reach Ponte Taipu, the point where the Amazon meets the Atlantic. In doing so Welch and Kalch immortalised themselves, joining an elite group of adventurers to achieve this feat.
They are the first team in close to a decade to taste success on the world's mightiest river. The expedition pushed each man to his mental and physical limits. They narrowly cheated death on a number of occasions. To claim their ultimate prize of a complete source to sea journey, they overcame mother nature's most unforgiving environments.
Serious altitude sickness whilst trekking at over 5000m, snowstorms, 500km of the planet's most dangerous whitewater and powerful tidal surges, are just some of the enormous challenges they faced.
"It just never stopped" says Kalch.
Intensity and adversity became a daily part of Amazon life. No sooner had they completed the whitewater did they find themselves being shot at by narco-terrorists and the military in Peru's notorious cocaine-producing region and again on the Colombian border.
"There was nothing we could do apart from lie low and hope we could pass by quickly." Welch added.
Continued exposure to the harsh elements saw the men battle constant bouts of vomiting, diarrhoea and peculiar tropical disease. Finally they lost their 3rd team member from a mystery virus that had even doctors baffled.
This resulted in the two men paddling 24 hrs a day in 6 hr shifts for the remaining 4500km as a duo. Against all the odds, the two succeeded in their quest, earning the right to place their names in the history books. They have travelled more than 6800km through some of the most diverse and harshest environments on earth, all under their own power.
As Kalch says, "We've done it now, it's locked in there and no one can take that away from us!"