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The Trans-Amazon Expedition is a massive canoe trip down the greatest river on Earth, the Amazon River. Dave Freeman, Eric Frost, and Amy Voytilla of the Wilderness Classroom began the Trans-Amazon Expedition over a year and half ago. The Trans-Amazon Expedition has already taken us through three countries. We began our trip in March of 2007 in Peru. In April of 2008, we reached Columbia, but only a small part of Colombia border the Amazon River. Shortly after, we were in Brazil. We recently just arrive back in Brazil and plan to canoe over 1,000 miles of the Amazon until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. We will canoe for seven weeks and arrive back in the United States just before Thanksgiving. Can you figure out how many miles we need to canoe on average to meet our goal?

Brazil is a fascinating country. It's the largest country in South America by far; only a bit smaller than the continental U.S., Brazil borders every country in South America except Ecuador and Chile. And it's the only country on the continent where the people speak Portuguese rather than Spanish. Brazilian people are some of the nicest people we've ever met in the entire world.

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One of Brazil's greatest features is the Amazon River and surrounding rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest is home to nearly 30% of the Earth's plant and animal species, making it the area of greatest biodiversity on earth. The Amazon River carries 11 times more water than the Mississippi River, and many scientists think that it's the longest river on earth (the only other river that might be longer is the Nile River in Africa). At the mouth of the river, where the Amazon meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Amazon is over 200 miles wide! That's about the distance from Chicago to Indianapolis!

So how did the Amazon River get to be the greatest river on Earth? To answer that question, we need to go back in time nearly 500 million years ago to when all of the Earth's continents were connected in a land mass that scientists call Gondwanaland. About 160 million years ago Gondwanaland began to break up and began to form the earth's continents that we know today. As South America broke free from Africa, the Amazon River was formed. When South America was first formed, the Amazon River flowed toward the west. Then, there was a massive earthquake which made the river change directions and formed the Andes Mountains. All of the water that used to flow westward began to pool up and form an inland sea throughout Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and Peru. Then all of that water eventually found its way out to sea, just like all of the water on the Earth's surface. It began to cut a channel very similar to the Amazon River we know today.

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All of the team members on the Expedition Team have been explorers for their whole lives. We all grew up spending lots of time outside, either playing sports, camping, or just being outdoors. In school, we all were fascinated with animals and far away places, just like you. We all found that the best way to study plants and animals is by being quiet, patient, and willing to travel to places that are hard to get to.

Before we travel to the Amazon Rainforest, it helps to know as much as about it as possible. The more we learn about the rainforest by reading, studying, and talking with others, the easier it will be to stay safe.

All of the team members must be in good physical shape too. During our expedition we'll paddle our canoes every day for 6 to 8 hours each day, which requires us to have strong muscles. To get in shape before an expedition each team member exercises outside nearly every day. We ride bicycles, run, canoe, ski, snowshoe, and work outside every chance we get. A fit body is less likely to get injured or tired when we're out on the trail.

All of the team members must get several vaccinations and shots to keep ourselves healthy while we're away. Each team member received vaccines for yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies. We also got boosters of all our childhood vaccines. In addition team members will also take pills to keep us from getting malaria, which is caused by certain mosquito bites.

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Each day, after we canoe, we will look at all of our photos and videos we took during the day. We will decide which ones are the best and most interesting. Then, we will put them on our computers and upload them to our website. Because there is no wireless internet, we have to use a satellite phone to update our web site and receive emails from all of you. We can use the satellite phone from anywhere on Earth!

You are part of this expedition too! While we are in Brazil, we will ask you to make important decisions for us. Through Cast Your Vote and the Daily Dilemma, we will ask you to solve problems and make decisions about our journey. We look forward to getting this important feedback from you while we are in the rainforest.

What will the Team bring to the Amazon?

Personal Items
Group Gear
Food Items

2 pairs of quick-dry pants
2-3 shirts (short and long sleeve)
2-3 pairs of socks and underwear
Wide-Brimmed Hat

Rain Jacket
Mosquito Netting
Sleeping bag or blanket
Sandals
Rubber Boots
Pocket Knife
Flashlight or Headlamp
iPod
Passport
2 Water Bottles
Notebook and Pens
Binoculars

3 Canoes, 7 paddles
First Aid Kit
3 Laptop Computers
1 Satellite Phone
1 Satellite Internet Terminal
CD-Rs and DVD-Rs
6 Waterproof Backpacks
2 5-gallon water jugs 500 water purification tablets
5 digital cameras
1 digital video camera
6 waterproof boxes
24 AA Batteries
2 Solar Panels
1 5-HP Honda generator
Pots, pans, coffee pots, and other items for cooking
2 portable camping stoves
5 gallons of gasoline
30 tubes of sunscreen
3 Machetes
Soap for dishes, laundry, and body
Lots of Zip Lock bags
Candles
Lighters and waterproof matches

Rice
Dry Peas
Dry Lentils
Oatmeal
Peanut Butter
Cliff Bars and Lara Bars
Hard Candy
Cookies
Canned Tuna Fish
Pasta
Tomato Sauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Spices
Kool-Aid
Coffee and Tea

 

Week 1 Links

Mongabay - the Ultimate Rainforest Resource: http://www.mongabay.com/home.htm

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil

National Geographic's Brazil Information: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/countries/country_brazil.html

Extreme Science - The Amazon River: http://www.extremescience.com/AmazonRiver.htm

Animation of Gondwana Break-Up: http://kartoweb.itc.nl/gondwana/index.html

Facts about the Amazon River: http://www.amazon-rainforest.org/amazon-river.html

World Wildlife Fund's Rainforest Information: http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/amazon/index.html

World Rainforest Information Portal: http://www.rainforestweb.org/

Dr. Blythe's Rainforest Education Site (great for students): http://www.rainforesteducation.com/

 

What is your favorite part of the Trans-Amazon Expedition?

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