Let's go for 5, 6, 7 or 8 days on foot in the jungle, we don't know!
Packs on our backs, we cross our first big river. After 50m, first fall for me. I wasn't afraid to get wet, anyway humidity will be part of our daily life until we get out of this dense forest. Philippe and Nico open the route, cutting their way through, Jean-Marc takes care of directing them in the right direction which will be west. We progress the first few hours in a forest that is quite open at 2 km/h.
The afternoon is a little less good, a few swamp passages slow us down a little. We have the opportunity to meet a turtle, a huge millipede and a crab.
The night falls rather quickly in the jungle, around 4 pm, we look for a river to make our bivouac. Water is really a survival element for us. We use it to make our freeze-dried food, to drink and also to wash ourselves. If we neglect hygiene, our bodies will rot at lightning speed.
It is 6.30 am, the song of the howler monkeys gently wakes us up. We take the time to have lunch and to dismantle the camp.
8am: we start our day with a very steep climb. We help ourselves from the trees and vegetation to climb up to the plateau. We decide to change our route in order to progress in altitude because the vegetation is less dense. This lengthens the route, but we progress more quickly. In the jungle, nothing is flat. It's a permanent roller coaster! Most of the time, the climbs and descents are extremely steep but the most annoying thing is the progression in "dahu", that is to say in the slopes.
Around 11am, as every day, we meet Morphos. These sparkling blue butterflies always have the same flying hours. A legend says that the first "dollar" notes were made with part of their wings.
12.30 pm: we reach a river. That's good timing, we take our lunch break! For Nico and me, it will be mashed split peas potato and for Jean-Marc and Phi-phi, tabbouleh of couacs whose base is manioc. Our dessert will be a good fruity Mulebar.
No time to lose for digestion, we must resume our progress. We have only done 5 km in 4 hours. In order not to have our nose permanently on the GPS we use the sun for orientation, it seems absurd, but I assure you that it works well.
The heat is always there, the tiredness starts to be felt when suddenly we hear noises in the trees, it wakes us up. Jean Marc announces the arrival of a family of spider monkeys, we take some time to observe them and then we have to leave quickly because the monkeys throw branches at us. They easily follow us like Tarzan with the help of lianas. Phew that didn't last, we can set up the camp and sleep peacefully.
This morning we decided to leave early to cover more kilometres. We have been in the jungle for 3 days now and we have covered less than 35 km. If we continue at this pace, we will definitely miss our plane! Today our progress is very fast. We are at 2 km/h, that must make you laugh, but I assure you that it is really not easy in such a rough terrain. The rain is starting to fall on a climb that I would describe as a green wall! With our heads in the handlebars, we attack the climb.
We come across some magnificent tarantulas and I take the opportunity to give a demonstration to Nico. These pretty "little" animals are really nice if you don't bother them. If you don't bother them, they throw you stinging hairs from their abdomen and if you insist you risk tasting their hooks which contain a neurotoxic venom.
The rain is in full swing, we can hear the thunder rumbling and the wind picking up. We start to worry, we quickly have to find the foothills of a giant forest to protect ourselves, because we risk taking a branch or a tree on our heads. Namely, the most common accident in the Amazonian forest is falling trees. We lengthen our stride. Phew! This is a very good idea since a 3m long branch fell just behind me.
Bad weather passes quickly. We take advantage of this lull to settle down a little and try to send a message by satellite to say that everything is fine. It's been more than 2 days since we haven't given any news. Perfect, we are in a hole where we can see the blue sky. These clearings are created by falling trees. After leaning on a tree, Jean-Marc and I were "attacked" by red ants. They invaded our bodies and devoured us so much that we had to undress to get rid of them. It's hell! I don't know how many stings we have received, but in any case it really burns for a long time. Nico, worried, starts to check his body. The surprise! He discovers more than fifteen ticks on the most intimate parts.
And yes! These are the joys of the jungle. When you get out of there, I assure you that you won't complain about anything anymore.
The afternoon goes by more quietly. Our progress is much slower due to accumulated fatigue and rationed food.
Like every late afternoon, we set up camp, collect wood for the fire and drink our ti-punch with a piece of sausage I had saved to cheer us up. Hmmm how good these little moments in front of a campfire are.
After having taken our LyoFood Expedition freeze-dried meal, Nico gives us a great gift! A chocolate mousse... freeze-dried of course. It's the icing on the cake, so you can lick your fingers and lips.
It's time to go to bed in the hammock. After 10 minutes we are woken up by Nico's screams. A tapir has just touched his hammock, it's not dangerous like a jaguar, but it's still the "ox" of the jungle. A tapir can weigh up to 250 kg.
Woken up by the Capuchin monkeys, we swallow our breakfast before resuming our journey.
The terrain is always the same, in altitude a very clear forest, lower down are the swamps with dense vegetation.
This day will be under the sign of birds. During our progress, we met macaws with their majestic plumage. This bird can live up to 90 years and above all, it remains faithful to its partner all its life. We also came across hoccos, a kind of dodo with a yellow beak whose flight is very heavy, marais and agamis, a kind of pheasant.
We are really starting to take our bearings in this very hostile and beautiful jungle, so that we get used to all the insects that come to discover our bodies. We also come across yellow and black dendrobats, the same colour as us. They are very pretty frogs, but we must not touch them because they carry a poison on them.
We don't see the time passing, we set up camp for the last time, as we intend to finish without stopping to sleep.
We take stock of our food, there is not much left. We will have to manage well as we are going to be here for 24 hours non-stop. Knowing that the last 25 km are on an existing road. We have little luck, we spend our time climbing, jumping and climbing fallen trees. The Awara palm tree contains thousands of thorns that go into our bodies. This is becoming common now. The day is very hard and tiring.
Nico and Philippe sometimes go crazy insulting the vegetation. Their role is to make the way with a sword and I can tell you that it is not very easy. Jean-Marc tries to apply himself on the orientation to facilitate our progression.
At nightfall, we put on our Armytec frontals and we offer ourselves a little pleasure by eating a Mulebar pinacolada to cheer us up.
We advance at 0.5 km/h in swamps. I try not to lose my shoes in the mud and to keep my head up. Around 9pm we hear the sound of a waterfall. It makes us smile again because this is where we will find a real trail. An hour later, here we are with our feet in the river. The trail is there, only 25 km left to reach Saul now.
We decide to take a good break, take a good bath, make a fire and eat. Nico and I have our feet stoned, we feel like they have been sanded down with sandpaper. We also take a little nap which is quickly shortened by the arrival of legionnaire ants. We have to run away quickly before we become the feast of this army of insects.
The layon is not a motorway at all. Easier than the deep jungle, but it still requires a lot of effort. The night is magical! We meet a lot of fauna. Between caimans, frogs, monkeys, buffalo toads and marsupials. Jean-Marc decides to stop because he keeps falling at night with his vision problem. Out of solidarity, we stay with him and install our hammock until daybreak.
Last breakfast! We resume and enjoy the last kilometres of this expedition which was not easy. Finally civilization, the village of Saul is in sight! There are only 7 km left. At 6 km from the finish, we can't help but stop at the carbet Popote to drink a good beer in the company of Christian, the master of the place. He always has great forest stories to tell.
At the exit of the forest, only 5 km to go. The heat is overwhelming, but we are very happy to finish this adventure and say a last word in front of the town hall of Saul.
After 2 nights of comfort at the inn, at the foot of the tree elected most beautiful of the year 2015 (a Kapok tree over 50m) we take the plane back to Cayenne.
It has been more than a month since this expedition is over. I still have memories in my head and also in my body. I have removed 3 big macaque worms that lived in my leg.
Many thanks again to RaidLight for their great equipment, to Mulebar for their delicious bars, to LyoFood Expedition for their great chef dishes and also to LifeStraw for purifying our water with their magic flask and straw.
See you soon for new adventures!