A Nightmare Shortcut
The end of July was intense for Arnaud Maldague. In an effort to save time and energy, he took several shortcuts paddling through the Amazon. Some worked, others were a disaster.
Trying to reach the Purus river he took a route that looked to be about 2.5 miles. Half the distance went well, but he soon ran out of water to paddle. He dragged his canoe across fallen trees and was swarmed by mosquitoes. Eventually, he got stuck 900m from the Purus and had to complete the final section the next day, lugging his boat and gear through the jungle in three trips to get back to water.
“I made it, exhausted as ever, but fine. I lost a full day due to this, and my energy level got to a very low point the next day. I think this closes a chapter to wild shortcuts. The water level is too low now, and I don't think I will be able to, or want to, make shortcuts anymore,” Maldague wrote.
Next, Maldague arrived in the small community of Belo Monte. When he paddled in, he was greeted by a large crowd at the jetty, a welcome boost after his nightmare shortcut.
He passed a couple more communities before arriving at the larger town of Labrea. He reports that river conditions are changing. As well as water levels dropping, he is battling stronger currents, but at least he is primarily paddling in the shade now.
In Labrea, he took a month off to recover and prepare for the final 680-mile stretch of his paddling journey. While there he met another long-distance paddler, Aladir Murta. Murta has paddled over 37,000 miles in his life, and at age 86, he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. “Aladir plans to go on paddling as long as he can and wants to die paddling. He loves the nature and wants to be out there, in the wild, on the rivers,” Maldague wrote.