853 days ago, Ed Stafford took the first steps of what would become a record-breaking trek, following the length of the Amazon river as it winds its way across the South American continent. After experiencing countless insect bites, violent run-ins with hostile natives, and his fair-share of folks who doubted he could do it, in a matter of days Stafford is set to finish his momentous 4,000 mile journey.
Stafford, a 34-year-old former army captain from England, set off into the jungles of Peru, the birthplace of the Amazon river, on April 2, 2008, attempting to be the first person to traverse its entire length. "Everyone told me it was impossible, and I wanted to prove them wrong," he told the BBC.
Carrying little more than a backpack with survival gear and a laptop computer, Stafford wrote frequently about his adventure on the Web site devoted to his record-breaking, continent-crossing trek. Although he started his journey alone, Stafford was soon joined by Peruvian Gadiel ' Cho ' Sanchez Rivera who wanted to help the Englishman survive the perils of the Amazon -- which haven't been few in the over two years the pair has been walking together.
Another famed British adventurer, Ranulph Fiennes, thinks Stafford will join the ranks of notable explorers, telling the BBC:
No-one has ever done this before and the pundits considered the route impossible. If the distance wasn't challenge enough, the dense forest, biting insects, snakes, bogs, wilderness and uncertainty of what lay ahead would daunt the staunchest explorer. To do all this in more than 800 continuous days with just a backpack puts Stafford's endeavor in the top league of expeditions past and present.
Now, after 853 days traveling along the world's second largest river, Stafford has finally made it through the jungle and the most harrowing portion of his trek. On August 9, he is expected to finally reach the place where the Amazon empties into the Atlantic. "For Cho and I, the jungle has been a place of adventure and it's also been our normality -- it's been our 'home' for so long now," Stafford writes to CNN. "I will dream about this place for the rest of my life."