British adventurer becomes first person to walk the Amazon

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A British man on Monday said he became the first person ever to walk the length of the Amazon, braving a 6,500-kilometer (4,000-mile) hike through mosquito- and snake-infested jungle over the past two years.

"Job done," Ed Stafford, 34, said on his Twitter feed updating the odyssey step-by-step.

The former soldier set out from the summit of Nevado Mismi in southern Peru on April 2, 2008, headed to the Brazilian coast.

During the long overland haul, he said survived on a diet of piranha fish, rice and beans, and endured an estimated 50,000 mosquito bites and hundreds of wasp stings.

"28 months and Cho and I have finished walking the Amazon. I always knew it was possible. :-) Blog/images in a couple of hours," he said in his Twitter post, referring to his website

Cho is Gadiel Cho Sanchez Rivera, a Peruvian forestry worker who joined Stafford five months into the hike.

"I started walking with Ed at first because I felt a responsibility to try and help this crazy man through a very dangerous area with drugs traffickers and hostile tribes," Sanchez Rivera said.

"But as the days went on I really enjoyed the simple life and Ed and I became good friends. It was not long before I knew that I wanted to complete the whole trip and walk with Ed right to the finish."

Stafford, from Leicestershire in central England, almost didn't complete the trek after collapsing Sunday from exhaustion just 85 kilometers (53 miles) short of the beach, his finishing line.

"I started to fall asleep again whilst walking -- the sort of sensation you sometimes scare yourself with when driving utterly shattered," he wrote on his blog.

"Whilst lying down at the side of the road I started to itch furiously. I began scratching franticly but the itching became maddening. I came out in a total body rash and was unable to walk or lie still.

"I feel slightly humbled that my system just decided to shut down so close to the finish.

"The last day is going to be very long indeed."

During his gruelling expedition, Stafford said he dodged pit vipers, electric eels, anaconda and scorpions. He was imprisoned, chased by natives wielding bows and arrows and wrongly accused of murder -- twice.

A spokeswoman for the adventurer said he was the first person to have walked the entire length of the Amazon.

Writing on his blog, Stafford said he was "quite humbled by how much I've had to rely on other people."

He added: "All the messages of support have kept me going -- that and the desire to bring life in the Amazon to the wider world."

Stafford is seeking to use his experience to launch a career as a writer and motivational speaker.

© 2010 AFP

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