Sport on TV: Trekkie boldly goes where no sane friends will follow him

When Ed Stafford hatched his plan to become the first person to trek the entire length of the Amazon and asked his friend Luke Collyer, an "expedition leader", to come along, he must have been excited. But after 100 days, Collyer decided to go home when it suddenly dawned on him that he wouldn't see his girlfriend for two and a half years. The fact that this eventuality had passed him by in the planning process suggests he's not the best expedition leader in the world. A trip down to Tesco sounds like the limit of his abilities.

Collyer had already admitted he found his other partner "completely unbearable" after about 10 minutes of the first part of Walking the Amazon (Discovery, Wednesday). Then he took off on his own to cross the Apurimac valley in Peru, the deepest gorge in the world, ignoring the paths chosen by local guides. It went horribly wrong.

"He put our lives at stake because of this emotional battle we're having," said Stafford. Collyer may have left him – and a whole bunch of worthy causes – in the lurch, but he checked out at the right time, just as they were about to enter the Red Zone, "battleground of the criminal drug trade" as the narrator told us.

Two thirds of the world's cocaine supplies come from here, which sounds like the sort of claim that could get a TV presenter in a lot of trouble with some powerful people. Next thing we know, he will be saying the coke brokers are lazy and feckless and flatulent, their food tastes like refried sick and their wives don't know the off-side rule.

Stafford, a former Army captain in Afghanistan, may have entertained a few thoughts of home himself as the locals gave him useful advice such as "You can't come through here, it's ridiculous. You'll get yourself killed". Then his guides ran away as well.

The problem, though, was not the drugs trade but the despised oil prospectors who swing periodically through the rainforest. People shouted "Death! Death!" from passing cars in the village of Cachingiri, and when Stafford called ahead to try and find some more guides, they said they would kill him too.

Then he was pelted with wet concrete – no doubt symbolically – and, mortified, he decided it might be better to try his luck on the other bank of the river – the drugs side. But on this bizarre journey into the heart of darkness, he was allowed safe passage there because the coca farmers had heard of his expedition.

Presumably a little Peruvian marching powder might have helped him on his way, too. He might have been hallucinating wildly when he said that some locals "came running up to me and said 'Hello Edward!'".

He found them eating a spider monkey, which disturbed him because they looked so human, but he was soon tucking in himself. And when he finally reached the flooded Amazon plain itself, after six days without meat, he gorged himself on a pregnant tortoise, putting aside its eggs for breakfast. Tortoise livers, singed tail of spider monkey – it sounded more Heston Blumenthal than Doctor Livingstone.

Finally there was a coming-of-age full-moon ritual called Pelizol, in which a young girl is released after being locked in a hut for two years. Boys run around with massive dildoes strapped to them. At least codpieces weren't on the menu too.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee