Since the location of the source of the Amazon was made official by Peru and Brazil and afterward published by INPE in 2009, and the work involved in comparative measurement of the length of the Amazon and the Nile, the expedition conducted by the documentary film maker Pedro Werneck has been the most complete. He traveled 6,993 kilometers on foot through the Andes, by car along the source and by boat traveling East to West between Peru and Brazil. The expedition navigated the entire extent of the Apurimac-Ene-Tambo-Ucayali-Amazonas system, recording the geography, culture and all the diversity of the largest river on the planet. Pedro Werneck was the first documentary film maker in the world to travel down the Amazon, from the source of the river to the extreme mouth and not just as far as Macapá or the North Channel.
Who is Pedro Werneck
DNA doesn’t lie, Pedro Werneck is a chip off the old block; he is the son of journalist, author and book illustrator, Paula Saldanha and biologist/photographer, Roberto Werneck. He was born living the expeditionary adventure of his parents. Pedro, in addition to his passion for nature and adventure, is a documentary film maker specialized in productions concerning the environment. Six years ago he became a director, photographer and editor of the company created by his parents, Paula and Roberto, (RW Cine) 32 years ago. For 25 years, the Werneck family has produced one of the best educational and adventure programs for Brazilian TV: TV Expedições.
The expedition stages
Pedro Werneck conducted the expedition in five stages. The first stage (mouth to Cailloma); the second stage (Cailloma to Atalaya); the third stage (Atalaya to Iquitos); the fourth stage (Iquitos to Manaus) and the fifth stage (Manaus to the mouth). As forecast, Pedro Werneck’s adventure ended on June 5, World Environment Day. When he arrived in Belém, the expeditionary received an enormous welcoming party at the Estação das Docas, including speeches honoring him from the scientific community, the public and the Brazilian Navy.
Pedro Werneck – INTERVIEW
My main objective has always been to draw attention to the importance of the Amazon River. The Amazon is a river that empties an impressive volume of water into the Atlantic Ocean. The outflow is over 300 million m3 per second. I experienced difficult and dangerous moments. First, there was a climb up to the peak of the Nevado Mismi, nearly 6,000 meters in altitude. Beginning at 5,000 meters it is referred to as the death zone. I descended parts of the Amazon in the Andes Mountains on foot, hiking through the snow. Then I followed the streams that form the famous Apurimac – the sacred river of the Incas. I trailed the Apurimac by car and navigated in small boats. On the plains, I endured endless cargo boat travels, navigating the Ucayali, in the Peruvian jungle. The Apurimac and the Ucayali are in reality the Amazon itself, bearing names given it in different regions. I was the first person in the world to go down the Amazon River, following the coordinates provided by the INPE – the true source where the first drop descends to form the Apurimac-Ucayali-Amazonas, until the mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. Other persons have descended from the source of an affluent – often beginning in Marañon – and ending their journeys before the extreme mouth. It is important to emphasize that many people believe that the Amazon River begins in Iquitos and flows east, owed to its nomenclature on the maps. This point is to the north of Peru, while the true source is to the south. The journeys have not ended. I will return to some of the locations to document some regions in more depth. Afterward I will also concentrate more on this project to produce a long reel film: “The Amazon, the largest river in the world – an adventure from beginning to the end.”