Amazon – The Final Plan

“What the hell am I doing back here?” is a question going through my head upon arrival at Georgetown airport. The last trip was so intense, do I want to revisit those emotions?


Day 1, I go to immigration to try extend my 3 month visa to 4 months. Too complicated so bail. Seeing and remembering how friendly people are out here, I find myself falling back into the swing of things.

Time to get the expedition sorted and contact the Wai Wai, Guyana’s most isolated community.

First port of call Roraima Airways, they know the right people. They ring the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Perfect news. The Wai Wai Toshao (head) is in town with another elder, Yokkie, for Amerindian heritage week. Massive stroke of luck!

The Toshao, Paul Chekema, is a legend of conservation and has spearheaded the effort his village, in collaboration with agencies, have made to ensure the Wai Wai were given full control over their forest lands. They’ve said no to lucrative logging and mining contracts, so their land remains pristine and totally wild!.

Paul Chekema

The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs have been brilliant with sorting permissions and, after 2 days of plotting, I’ve formulated a plan with Paul and Yokkie over long lunches in sweaty lunch venues, with lots of comfortable silences (Wai Wai may pause for 5 minutes mid-story, so you have to hold your tongue!).

Essentially the expedition is looking very hardcore and everything I was hoping it to be. When Wai Wai elders are excited by the challenge you know you’re on to a winner. They’ve both made the journey over to Brazil to visit other tribes and said it’s pretty special and tough.

So exploring the Rio Mapuera is a green light. The logistics are pretty complex. I have to cut down my kit to the extent where I can carry all of it in just one bag and we’re ditching my fancy folding canoe (too heavy to carry over the mountains). My two Wai Wai guides and I will look for an abandoned dugout or we’ll make one when we hit the Brazilian side.

Feeling pretty nervous and many unanswered questions still. How can I carry a months worth of rations in my bag, with camera kit and the rest? How do I get back after the exped, the Wai Wai are so remote. The cost is adding up, is my budget sufficient? I’m meant to be leaving Tuesday on a Cessna 206 if my permit comes through and the weather is clear. Plenty to work on before then!

Cessna 206

Only two western people have ever done this journey before (Holden, 1937, and Guppy, 1958) and this was when Guyana was a British colony and they had full support from agencies and months of planning. On the upside, there is no-one more skilled than the Wai Wai for throwing myself in the deep end with.

Sorry for lack of real pics, grabbed those off the internet, been to distracted.

Amazon – Expedition Kit

Tomorrow is departure day! Lots of packing to be done.

Due to the remoteness of the upcoming journey, there will be no resupply points, so everything I need for the 3 months must be packed at the start. I feel I have too much so trying to get rid of items before tomorrow.

I also took the opportunity yesterday to spray my clothing and mosquito net with Permethrin to help keep mosquitos at bay. There are 2,500 different species of mosquito in the Amazon and it’s crucially the female Anopheles and Aedes species that create problems. Bite avoidance is key!

Expedition kit

Amazon – Medical Kit

Medical kit

After much research, planning and advice, my medical kit is finally complete.

In the remotest section of the upcoming Amazon expedition, my two local teammates and I will be some 4 weeks away from the nearest medical centre. Being too remote for emergency evacuation (we’re out of helicopter range) I need to be able to manage any potential traumas, both minor and severe.

It breaks down as follows (from right to left in the pic above):

  • Day boxes for foot treatment, malaria prophylaxis, painkillers, plasters, body washing
  • Thermometer and antibiotics covering infections of digestive system, skin, lungs, throat, ears, eyes (neatly stored in urine sample tubes)
  • Allergy and anaphylactic shock treatment (with pre-filled adrenaline shot)
  • Pain management pills
  • Bag of dressings for any woundcare
  • Creams for burns, fungal infections, bites
  • 350 alcohol wipes for cleaning wounds (you end up using plenty in the jungle)

Just waiting on a mini dental kit and iodine bottle for washing wounds.

It’s great to know your med kit inside out. Hopefully I won’t need to use 90% of it. It doesn’t come cheap (especially malarone). Total bill just under £600. But can’t put a price on safety.

Thank you to the awesome Doctor Russell Hearn for his invaluable advice and help in the design and procurement of the above. The highlight was practising self-injection into the buttocks… no better way of curing a fear of needles!

Bring on the jungle!

Amazon expedition

Amazing Lakes

A team of eight Year 10 students were pushed to the limit in the Lake District last week.


Day 1 saw the team attempt Helvellyn (925m) and turn around 100 metres below the summit. Exposure, rain and fog were too much for the team’s nerves on the famous ‘Swirral Edge’ ridge.


Humbled by the experience, the team regrouped and got themselves ready for an ascent of Bowfell (910m). Choosing a wild camp in the stunning Langdale valley, meals were cooked on fires, the sun came out and river bathing was a go.


Day 3 the team successfully ascended the majestic Bowfell, the icing on the cake for this amazing trip.

Thank you to Teacher Andy for his excellent support.

North Ealing to Snowdon


Blessed with glorious spring conditions, eight students from North Ealing made a successful ascent of their first ever mountain in stunning North Wales.



Our base camp was a farmer’s field by the foot of the mountain, where we cooked our suppers on open fires.


The students performed excellently and a big thank you to teachers Andy and Chiara for their support.