The National Geographic Amazon Express Expedition

West led the first expedition to paddle the world’s longest river from its newly discovered and most distant source from the Peruvian Andes, almost 4200 miles to the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil.

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Meet the Team

West Hansen
West Hansen

West began kayaking back in the 1980's, then started racing in ultra-marathon canoe and kayak races in the early 1990's. He led the first expedition to paddle the entire length of the Amazon River from it's most distant source to the sea. The 4100+ miles took 111 days, through 500 miles of uncharted white water, then 3800 miles of cloud and rain forest.

Barbara Edington
Barbara Edington

Barbara lives in SETX (Southeast Texas) married to her husband for 19 years, raising a 16 year old daughter as well as 3 older kids. She has 4 grandkids. She participates in triathlons for a hobby and organizes the Texas Winter 100k canoe/kayak race each January. In addition, she organizes a charity bike ride, Tour de Groves, each October, raising money for the local senior center. As manager of both the Amazon Express Expedition and the Volga River Expedition it was her position to prepare for anything the team needed in advance of their arrival in base cities, lay out transportation/lodging via locals, and communicate with the team each day for specifics and concerns.

Jason Jones
Jason Jones

Jason was also a member of the Amazon Express team. He's got decades of experience as a saltwater and freshwater fisherman. Jason has a PhD in Eastern Medicine with a specialty in acupuncture. Jason has been racing canoes since the mid 1990's, though he grew up near the Texas coast and has spent his entire life on the water. Jason and West attended Southwest Texas State University together, where Jason beat West up on a regular basis in karate. West remembers this and is just waiting for the right moment when Jason is fast asleep.

Erich Schlegel
Erich Schlegel

Erich has been surfing all his life, and he loves water sports. He got into marathon canoe racing in 2009, paddling in the Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, the Colorado Rover 100, Texas Water Safari, and several other local races. Erich is experienced in all type of adventure travel and photography. Erich has also documented several conflicts around the world while on staff at The Dallas Morning News including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Zaire (Congo), Rwanda, Bosnia, and Albania. Documented expedition to Mount Everest base camp with a group of disabled trekkers, Team Everest ’03. Other high altitude adventures include ice climbing in Ouray, CO and summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010.

Ian Rolls
Ian Rolls

Ian has paddled the Texas Water Safari, and several other Texas races as well as the Pecos, Devils and the Rio Grande rivers.

Rafa Ortiz
Rafa Ortiz

Rafa has been paddling for the past 10 years, eventually getting into expedition kayaking and running big waterfalls. He's been on first decent expeditions all over the planet, from India and Pakistan to my own steepness in Mexico. He recently ran the 189 ft Palouse Falls and descended the second highest, 128 ft Big Banana Falls.

Tino Specht
Tino Specht

Tino has been paddling for several years now, most of which have been traveling around the world. He has paddled on class 5 expeditions in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and New Zealand.

Jeff Wueste
Jeff Wueste

Jeff is a building contractor in Austin, Texas. He's been racing ultra-marathon canoe and kayaks for 25 years. He was part of the first expedition to paddle the entire length of the Amazon River from it's most distant source to the sea: The Amazon Express in 2012. Jeff was raised in the Sonoran desert in west Texas, participates in yoga for the past 10 years and behind his redneck veneer is a closeted intellectual, occasionally committing philosophy given half a chance.

Santiago Ibanez
Santiago Ibanez

Piotr Chmielinski
Piotr Chmielinski

Pete Binion
Pete Binion

Lizet Alaniz
Lizet Alaniz

Ensign Emilio Huaco
Ensign Emilio Huaco

Cesar Pena
Cesar Pena

David Kelly
David Kelly

Simon Yerovi
Simon Yerovi

Lucho Hurtado
Lucho Hurtado

Juanito De Ugarte
Juanito De Ugarte

John Maika
John Maika

Jennifer Maxfield Boucher
Jennifer Maxfield Boucher

Isabella Hansen
Isabella Hansen

Guillermo Castro
Guillermo Castro

Daniel Rondon and Santiago Ibanez
Daniel Rondon and Santiago Ibanez

Chava Loaya
Chava Loaya

Alex Chmielinski
Alex Chmielinski

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