Expedition Mambucaba

Finally after two weeks of extended meetings and film showings in Brazil, the real objective of our trip to Brazil is directly infront of us. I know what you must be thinking, and no Carnival is still 5 months out. For Chris Korbulic, Pedro Oliva, and I the real point of our annual reunion in Brazil has always been based on the next big river descent.

Unlike previous years where we have been traveling to the far ends of this massive country; this time around, our destination is located precisely between the two largest cities in Brazil if not in the world: Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. Brazil coast hems in a sizable portion of the South Atlantic Ocean and for much of that the Serra do Mar or Sea Mountains rise up from the coast line appearing in Rio de Janeiro as the iconic Sugar Loaf and other granite massives. In fact further down the coast towards Sao Paulo these mountains form the largest costal land form in brasil extending 40 miles into the interior and peaking out over 6000 feet in elevation giving rise to sizable river whose main stem drops 4000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean in just 20 miles: the Rio Mambucaba.

Luckily for Brazil and the outside world this one of a kind watershed has been completely protected from deforestation and pollution. Unluckily for Kayakers there is limited access and what little access is available is restricted by a National Park designation not so different from our Yellowstone. So it is good to have friends in Brazil that know how to pull this mission off and not get thrown in federal prisson.

In fact Pedro was a part of the team that made the first and only descent of the Mambucaba 5 year's ago following such kayaking visionaries as John Grace, Pat Keller, Andrew Holecombe, Jason Hale, and not to mention Emmy award winning cinematographer Ryan McPherson. But by all accounts it was a nasty portaged filled affair with the vast Majority of the 72 hour descent spent climbing through some of the densest jungle on earth and running from hummingbird sized Wasps.

So why go back? Well for one thing we are here at the end of the dry season and the river should be as tame as it is ever going to get. But really this is one of those opportunities to experience a place that time and progress has left behind; which in theory; is worth a few days of suffering.... I will let you know.


Ben Stookesberry

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