Amazon 2008

A map of my route on the River Amazon drawn on a print of “Encontro das Aguas”, Manaus, Brazil. The Meeting of Waters is the confluence between the dark Rio Negro and the pale sandy-colored River Amazon. For 6 km the two rivers’ waters run side by side without mixing. This phenomenon is due to the differences in temperature, speed and water density of the two rivers.

In 2008 I travelled for three months on the River Amazon by public transport. I wanted to experience and photograph life on the longest river on Earth upstream, from the mouth in Belém (Brazil) to the source on the mountain Mismi in the Arequipa Region (Peru). I never made it to the source because I ran out of time herding sheep with a Quechua family high up in the Anders.

The river source of the River Amazon is in the south of Peru, not far from Arequipa, on the mountain Mismi. The water trickles down as a little brook called Huaraco and as the Toro joins the stream it is called Santiago. A little downstream the water gets really wild and white, hence the name Apurimac which is Quechua that translates into “The Great Speaker”. The Apurimac becomes the Ene and when the tributary Perene joins at Puerto Ocopa the river is called Rio Tambo. After the last rapids near Atalaya the river’s name changes to Ucayali and just before it reaches Iquitos the Marañón contributes its water and the Peruvians already call it the Amazon. In Brazil however the name Alto Amazonas is used until the border of the three countries Colombia, Peru and Brazil. The river flows into Brazil as the Solimões and it’s only at Manaus that the river is called River Amazon until the mouth at Belém where it discharges its fresh water some 400 kilometers into the Atlantic Ocean.