Across the Amazon By Frog

That as the name given by Michael Palin to one of his Ripping Yarns from decades ago. This was after his Python days but before he began traveling around the world in those successful TV series that seemed to occur every year. I was reminded of it when I heard about the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race taking place next February in Chile. Going up or even across the Amazon seems a doddle in comparison with what is in store for the competitors. Skills in orienteering, mountain biking, ropework, sea kayaking and trekking are going to be required making this one of the toughest adventure holidays going. As it has developed it seems adventure tourism has become more popular as it has become more grueling.

The race is limited to just 60 people and the 7-10 day race (seems a very inadequate word to describe it) will be backed up by a support team including a medical group. Half don’t even finish. Competitors can’t even practice in advance because the route is kept secret until the day before it starts. All that is known so far is that it will go through some of the fjiords at the edge of the South American continent"s ice pack. Trying for ahat-trick of wins next year is the British team, Helly Hansen Prunesco.

So what is the appeal of adventure travel? And of this race in particular?

Pitting yourself (the fittest of us only) against the elements, the terrain and yourself seem to be an attraction. Another is seeing relatively unknown part of the world and making people aware of it as a natural wilderness. This has helped concentrate minds on sustainable tourism rather than the industrial development that could become more widespread like peat mining, logging, and deforestation.
Next year there is a third reason. The national emblem of Chile is a deer called the Huemul. It exists in only a few small areas of Chile and is rarely seen. Little is known about the animal which is on the critically endangered list. Runners are hoping to raise $20,000 (which seems quite a small sum) to run a project to help them protect this species. Those readers who wish to donate or learn more can go to www.patagonianexpeditionrace.com. For those intrigued by adventure travel don’t forget that Adventure Travel Live comes to the Royal Horticultural Halls in London at the end of January where over 100 companies will be giving talks as well as showing you parts of the world where only the hardy go. Details will be in the Events Listings with special rates for CD-Traveller readers closer to the time.