Headwaters: Upper Amazon of Peru

Giuseppi poling canoe form, upper Sepahua (double sided homemade poles with rocky bottom fittings)


27 La Cascada, big haystacks near the end of the long rapid May 7

South America: Exploring unknown terrain upper Amazon of Peru, 1977

I had become fascinated with a rare blank place on the map: a large area of upper Amazon watershed in south-eastern Peru, near Brazil, an area that the explorer-naturalist Peter Mathiessen (author of The Snow Leopard) described but could not penetrate in his book The Cloud Forest, inhabited in part by an uncontacted tribe of Yaminahua Indians and reputed to have exotic animals and fossil beds (Mathiessen did succeed in collecting remarkable fossils). I wanted to traverse through this area, going over an unexplored watershed, with the necessity of doing a first descent of a river system falling off the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains before ascending a wild jungle river. It was an opportunity for my friend Marty McDonnell (Sierra Nevada rafting pioneer) and I to do something I’d always dreamed of: design and build the ultimate river exploration boat, one that could descent and ascend rivers and handle the most difficult environmental challenges while being light and portable. I thought then that it would be my last fling, as I would soon be starting medical school, to which I had gained early acceptance. Our journey of 4 months took us into wilderness that to my knowledge had never been entered by humans, even indigenous people, a place where the animals had no fear of humans, which was one of the most profound experiences of my life.


Interview Coming Soon