Field Notes: Whitewater + Monster Fish on Brazil’s River of Doubt
© Adam Wills Elliot
Rewind to a week or so ago… Here’s a great post from EP crew member and word guru Kyle Dickman on their wild night in Cacoal before launching their expedition down the River of Doubt.
I’m in Cacoal, Brazil, with National Geographic explorers Zeb Hogan (left), the world’s foremost megafish expert, and Trip Jennings (right), an accomplished kayaker and filmmaker. Located 130 miles east of the Bolivian border, the town is just a few hours’ drive from the where we’ll launch the first-ever expedition to study the aquatic life in the Rio Roosevelt, once known as the River of Doubt, tomorrow morning. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to document some of the huge fish Teddy Roosevelt described during his 1914 exploration.
It just so happens that Cacoal is celebrating its 90-some-odd-year anniversary with too much sugarcane liquor. This occasion would normally merit grabbing a Cachaça and lime and hitting the streets to dance, but the only thing open in this jungle-frontier-turn-cattle town is the bars. The problem? We’re still trying to source gear we’ll need for our 130-mile float down the Rio Roosevelt’s whitewater. As I write this, my teammates are looking for the propane we’ll need to cook during the trip.
The team is on their final leg of the journey now — having reached Monster Fish Basecamp. Renowned angler Fabio is sport fishing for rumored 80-kilo catfish as I write this. Now that’s a big fish!