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Paddle to the Amazon: The Ultimate 12,000…
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Paddle to the Amazon: The Ultimate 12,000 Mile Canoe Adventure

by Don Starkell

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In 1980, Don Starkell and his two sons undertook an amazing journey- they paddled a 21-foot canoe from Winnipeg, Canada to the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. 12,000 miles in two years. They went down the Red River and the Mississippi, along the Gulf of Mexico's coastline, past the Panama Canal, traversing the coasts of Colombia and Venezuela, down the Orinoco River and up the Amazon through Brazil. They suffered many hardships- salt sores, hunger, exhaustion. A lot of the trip was in ocean waters which sounded incredibly difficult and dangerous. One of the sons dropped out not long into the journey. The other, Dana, struggled with asthma for much of the trip. They travelled through thirteen countries- in some areas were met with great generosity and hospitality, in other places strong suspicion and thievery. They undertook quite a few grueling portages, a few times across an isthmus where they insisted on hauling the boat on a trailer by manpower! A lot of people thought they'd never make it to the end, and sometimes they thought that, themselves. Don says he'd never do it again- but years later he made another canoe journey from Canada to the Arctic, which I'd like to read someday.

My favorite part of the book was the last thirty pages, which describes their journey on the actual Amazon River- lots of wildlife sightings. They had one close encounter with an anaconda (approaching it to take a photo) but all the crocs they saw were at a distance, none threatened. I like the writing about the scenery, and descriptions about how various native people eked out a living on the coast. Don sometimes mused on how travelling by canoe equated his experience with that of early explorers- in some cases he used their writings to know what to expect on little-travelled stretches of river.

more on the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Oct 4, 2017 |
I loved this book and have recommended it often. ( )
  tami.jeanne | Nov 23, 2013 |
Wow. What a great read this was. This book is about a father Don Starkell and his 2 sons, Jeff and Dana who decide to canoe from Winnipeg Canada all the way To Brazil Belem.This trip was so dangerous I could not understand the dad a lot of the times, why he put his sons in so much danger but he kept on pushing. One son decided to quit after 5 months so Don and Dana decided to go on.They were hijacked many a times by people that pretended to be cops, by real cops. The sea nearly did them in. They starved, they fought with each other. Dana had a lot of temper tantrums but can you blame him, but they did make it.I want to read Don Starkell's other book. I just discovered he wrote another book about his journey close to Alaska. This man is a man possessed. Finished reading this morning on December 21- 2010 ( )
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
A father and son's incredible journey by canoe from Winnipeg to the Amazon River. Full of adventure and at times danger. ( )
  finchky | Jul 27, 2007 |
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This book is dedicated to all those who helped us on our way - - and to our detractors, too. Without them our determination would not have been the same.
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If we'd known we were going to make it, the challenge would not have been the same - we might not have gone.
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