I've just walked into the vast expanse of water that is the Atlantic Ocean to give my last piece to camera of the whole shoot. I collapsed into the water, exhausted and somewhat lost for words. It wasn't deep as the beach went on for ages, so I just lay there in the shallows with the odd ripple of water washing over me, feeling tired but content. I tasted the water and sure enough it tasted completely fresh - hardly a hint of oceanic saltwater at all. So the Amazon is still master of this area. People tell me the fresh water continues for many miles out to sea and up and down the coasts. Quite remarkable really.
We've done it. We've reached the port of Belem, the gateway of the Amazon, where the mighty river finally meets the Atlantic Ocean. There was a great atmosphere on the boat as we pulled into port at sunrise. Everyone's thoughts are naturally turning towards home, and despite the weeks of exhaustion there's a lovely light feeling in the air.
Posted from: The Castelo Guedes, sailing east from Santerem
We're back on the Amazon on the final leg of the journey. Yesterday we left the Kayapo village of Krinu where we've been staying for the last week and it was an amazing feeling to know that from here on in we're all on the way home...it was quite emotional bumping along the dusty airstrip waving to the Kayapo who came out en masse to say goodbye.
We're travelling down the Amazon River. It's dusk and pockets of sunlight shoot out from the clouds. As we travel downriver, we see the ribeirinhos, the families that live at the edge of the water, in their small wooden houses, always two or three cows and never less than five children running around.
Posted from: Jacare
The pirarucu is the largest scaled fresh water fish in the world. It is emblematic of the Mamiraua Institute because of the successful management programme they have implemented, which has increased the stocks of this once endangered fish very successfully in the reserve. It has become emblematic of our shoot too because for days we have been trying to catch one.
Posted from: São Raimundo do Jarauá in the Sustainable Development Reserve, Mamirauá.
Catholic Padre Volnei announced his arrival at Sao Raimundo de Jaraua by loudly hooting his horn on board his little boat. He was greeted by his many followers in the community and by us too - who were eagerly waiting for him as he had promised to bring us more cigarettes from town. There are no shops here and he became our only hope!
Posted from: Sao Raimundo do Jaraua in the Sustainable Development Reserve, Mamiraua
The sky in the Amazon changes with every passing hour and it never ceases to amaze us. Especially sunrise and sunset, these are times when we all rush to the front or the back of our boat and start clicking away with our cameras. The skies turn from pink to orange, the canopy goes from green to golden yellow, reflecting the light of the sun.
Posted from: Alvaraes - Rio Japura
Can’t wait to get off this river taxi - and its lesson on one of the dark sides of my favourite place. I wonder what became of those three hopeless horrified men in their chains. Fifteen years in some rank jail ahead. Still musing, I visited the wheelhouse and we promptly crashed into a floating village. The sound of splintering wood and groaning corrugated iron.
Posted from: Tabatinga
I’ve never blogged before. It won’t be easy following some of the most wonderful writing you will have read so far. I prefer to be quiet behind my camera and film stuff – like quiet and shy people do – and leave the writing to those who are gifted at it.
Posted from: Manaus
Am back in Manaus with Laura, Rob and Dudu and it's been quite an adventure. We have left Bruce back in Tabatinga and crossed flights with the other crew in the air so didn't get chance to say 'Hi' and wish them luck.
After a long boat ride the river was becoming narrower and Philippe guided us to a small encampment. From here we hiked for 40 minutes into the jungle and arrived at an enormous tree stretching high up through the canopy. This was to be our platform for filming shots of the jungle from above the canopy.
Matt starts his ascent up a tree, complete with kit...
Posted from: Parana
The extreme environment of the Amazon is taking a heavy toll on the crew. Yesterday our highly talented cameraman Matt Norman tested positive for malaria and had to be evacuated to the nearest town for medical help. Luckily we are just an hour’s boat ride from a remote missionary air strip and we managed to call a plane in very quickly. He is now the fourth person to leave this shoot.
Posted from: Aurelio just outside of Tabatinga
Whilst the Amazon and its tributaries may flow smoothly and steadily, you can be fairly guaranteed that trying to film here won't. This place throws new problems at you every day: from illness in the crew to boats breaking down, to tricky tribal negotiations and obstructive bureaucrats, not to mention swarms of insects, torrential rain, knee-deep mud and unbearable heat. As producer/director, my job is to deal with all of these problems as they arise, try to find practical solutions and keep the production going. Every delay is extremely costly, financially and editorially as valuable filming time slips painfully away.
Posted from: Benjamin Constant
We filmed Bruce walking around the corner to the Bloco football match and we were met by quite a sight. A loud cheer went up to greet us from the friendliest bunch of Brazillian men who were halfway through putting on their dresses, wigs and makeup. A beer can was thrust into Bruce's hand and he was instantly embarrassed as the newest member of the football team.
Posted from: Ayahuasca Retreat Nr Iquitos
Standing under the dark night, washed in floral water and freshened after the day's walk to the ayahuasca retreat, this is one of those rare moments of reflection on a shoot. The jungle pours in around me with its clutter of insects and flow of the stream, illuminated by the occasional firefly. After three months in Peru, this is the last section of our second film to be shot. The thought of it being over seems implausible.
Posted from: Iquitos
We’re on the Amazon at last! Even though we’ve travelled well over a thousand miles since we started this epic journey, the river has always been called something else – Apurimac, Ene, Tambo and so on. Yesterday morning we hit the confluence of two massive rivers – the Maranon and the Ucayali - and at that point the river became officially known as the Amazon. It felt like quite a big moment for our bedraggled little team. It’s taken us three months to get to this point and we’re not even in Brazil yet!
Posted from: Wijint
We got up pretty early to trek to the fishing spot. It was a bit of an epic trek! There was loads to carry: I had a basket full of leaves weighing about 20kg, which I’d strapped to my head and we had the massive Z1 camera.
Posted from: San Lorenzo
We're on our way to visit the Achuar people, way up near the border with Ecuador. We left Pucallpa today on a charter flight, with a very efficient Swiss gentleman called Rudolph at the controls. He wore long socks with his shorts and had a neatly shaven head, which we thought was a good sign. A lot of small planes come down in remote regions of the Amazon, so Rudolph's brisk Swiss efficiency put us at ease as we loaded up the plane.
Posted from: near Louisiana.
We wake early and Matt B, Zubin and I head off in the soft morning light to shoot some establishing shots of the area. We shoot these on the large HD camera with some great shots of the lush green, mountainous landscape. In particular we pick off shots of the many fields growing coca leaves as these will then cut well into to the scenes that we will later shoot.
Posted from:Tres Canyones
We finally arrived at Tres Canyones, our destination, yesterday and camped the night with the family. This morning we all said a fond goodbye. While waiting to leave, literally in the middle of nowhere, a young llama herder walked past so I kicked him our football and started to have a kick around with him.
The altitude has been a shock but the source of the Amazon was amazing - water just spewing out of this wall. The mountains are covered with snow and the landscape here is totally epic. It's been really, really tough and it's very cold, so technical things like keeping batteries charged is a problem.
Posted from:: Journey to Angostura
The last couple of days we've been staying with Rodolfo and his family in their ridge-top estancia near the source of the Amazon. Rodolfo is a strong, paternal figure and for me he epitomises the mixture of pride, kindness and toughness that is characteristic of the Quechua. His daughter is away at university, which takes a huge chunk of the family income, but the whole village is proud of her.
Posted from: On the way to Angostura.
We have just started the trek from the source to Angostura with the llamas. It's a two-day walk, we have 10 llamas and a donkey, and it's been raining - a lot. Right now it's snowing, and it's miserable but the filming has gone really well because it's so beautiful here, and the footage will show this incredible place. We filmed the opening at the source rather than the glacier. It's just a trickle of water on the rock face and I still can't believe how this becomes such a huge sea of water.
Posted from:On the journey to Angostura
We first met our family of llama herders in the dark. Three nights ago we approached a tiny encampment and there, standing in the gloomy light, were the shadows of the family of llama herders that we've spent the last few days with. They greeted us warmly, gave Bruce presents and invited us into their very cosy stone house.
Posted from:Journey to Angostura
It's cold and snowing and today we're setting off on the arduous trek to Angostura. Everyone is pretty tired, a combination of hard work, altitude and waking up at 3am freezing in the tent. The absolute last thing I wanted to do this morning was get out of my sleeping bag and I don't think I was the only one.
Posted from:Base camp Mismi
David - our guide and translator for this section - took the opportunity to make an emotional offering to the mountain at the source and invited us all to join in. All of us found it equally moving and we each took three coca leaves and prayed to the Apus before making a request and then placing the leaves into the first waters of the Amazon.
After a couple of days walking and acclimatizing we got to the source yesterday. After reaching 5,200 metres we filmed our first shots of Bruce walking through the dramatic high Andes landscape and describing the start of his journey.
Posted from: The Source
We have started! Yesterday we had our first filming day at the source, which is incredibly beautiful. The mountains seem like cardboard cut-outs against a brilliant blue sky and we've been taking some lovely shots. It's been a real reminder to me of how brilliant this team is. Matt Norman, the cameraman, has an extraordinary eye for a good picture and I'm loving my first trip with Zubin, who has a contagious sense of fun.
Posted from:The Source
Last time I blogged Almu and I were on our way to an Alpaca Shaving competition. The competition was in the beautiful and very rundown town of Ran Ran. Many people were dressed in traditional Andean outfits, and there were obviously a lot of alpacas around. The shaving competition was saved until the end of the day, and despite chewing lots of coca to combat the altitude we both felt less than good. Almu was soon dressed in traditional clothes and, not wanting me to be left out, someone soon found a spare poncho and hat for me to put on.
Posted from:Base camp Mismi
Yesterday our three-vehicle convoy drove higher and higher up into the Andes towards Mount Mismi in search of the source of the Amazon. On route we stopped in a tiny town to refuel and while waiting, Zubin, Matt B, Luis (our driver) and I played football with two small lads of no more than 10 years in age.
Posted from:Colca lodge
We've had an epic three-car convoy and 15 hour drive yesterday through some of the most spectacular countryside. Bruce and I shared a car so that we could talk through what we were letting ourselves into - but a 4am start after a late night meant that we weren't entirely communicative. Bruce managed to sleep through various wrong turns and woke up as we drove over a 4500metre pass. We got to Colca (approx. 3700m) in the end, and it is stunning!
Here we are! The team and I have been out in Peru for about five days and I'm now sitting in blazing sunshine in Colca lodge in the High Andes. Ever since I've arrived I've been overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Peru, from the temples in Cusco to the incredible mountain scenery of yesterday's fifteen-hour drive.
Posted from: Cusco
The team has finally arrived in Cusco after a gruelling three days travelling. Amazingly all of our 45 boxes and bags got here too, and the two Matts and Zubin are now in the hotel lobby with cables and cameras spread everywhere, trying to cut down on equipment before they leave for the source of the Amazon, which is up in the high Andes.
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Bruce Parry, presenter of the BBC's Tribe, travelled the length of the Amazon to film a major new series for BBC Two, shown in autumn 2008. You can relive his journey online through exclusive blogs, video and much more.