The Haileybury community recently welcomed back Year 9 student Kane Hameister, after he returned from completing a 1,000km expedition through one of the last remaining unexplored regions of the Amazon jungle.
On this expedition through the mountainous Sierra del Divisor in Peru, a then 14-year-old Kane was accompanied by a guide, an ex-Australian Special Forces Unit Commander, two Peru Special Forces soldiers, a translator, his father Paul and eight Matses tribesmen.
The expedition was entirely self-sufficient, the group relying on detailed planning, skill and teamwork to forge their way through the virgin jungle. It was up to mother nature to provide their resources: drinking water sourced from rivers and creeks and food by means of hunting and fishing, often meaning only one meal a day.
The journey itself was conducted in four stages, the first saw Kane and his team travel for 10 days, covering 620km of the Tapiche River and away from civilisation to reach an unexplored part of the Sierra del Divisor.
On Day 11 of the trip, Kane turned 15, an occasion celebrated by everyone standing around him in a circle and singing Happy Birthday in Spanish, Matses and English. A truly unique birthday!
Kane and the men then covered 40km on foot through unexplored mountains in search of the headwaters of the Yaquerana River. The team moved in single file hacking their way through the jungle from first light until dark. They battled through thigh-high rivers, swamps and muddy mountainous conditions, even surviving encounters with an inquisitive jaguar, a 3-meter electric eel and a charging herd of wild pigs, the latter two serving as meals.
Kane and the men then spent the next 14 days navigating 320km of the Yaquerana River and near-relentless obstructions, hacking, lifting and even submerging their 9 handcrafted canoes to avoid fallen obstacles. The team once again experienced the abundant wildlife of the unspoiled region in the form of regular encounters with giant river otters and dolphins. The team followed this river pathway back to the first sign of other humans in nearly 30 days.
Upon arrival in a small Matses village called Puerto Alegra and some fast organisation, Kane and his team were able to hire locals to take them the final 200km back to Angamos via motorised canoe.
For Kane, this incredible journey was one of personal development and an informal rite of passage into manhood, an emergent theme of the expedition. All the other men on the expedition shared this objective and contributed their personal perspectives on this at various times throughout the journey, either by way of wise words or example.
Kane said, “It was an incredible privilege to experience unexplored parts of the Amazon jungle; to see nature unspoiled by humans and to get an insight into what it must have been like for the early explorers of this incredible part of our planet”.