TV review: Walking the Amazon

Walking the AmazonChannel Five, 9pm

WHEN it comes to feats of endurance, there is one man in a league of his own. In this exciting two-part documentary, former British Army captain Ed Stafford embarks on the quest of a lifetime - to become the first person to walk the entire length of the mighty Amazon river.

In the first instalment, close friends and explorers Stafford and Luke Collier arrive in Peru for the start of their 4500-mile journey. The pair are accompanied by a single guide, 24-year-old Peruvian Oswaldo, and intend to film the expedition themselves.

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Their first task is to find the source of the Amazon, Nevado Mismi, which is itself a three-week walk from the starting line. The only thing standing in their way is the magnificent Colca Canyon, a ravine twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The pair are on the verge of tackling their toughest climb when Luke declares that he is planning to take a quicker yet more dangerous route. It soon becomes clear that Luke is out of his depth on the climb, and Oswaldo and Ed wait nervously at the summit for him to appear.

The incident reunites the pair but, 90 days into the journey, Luke announces that he is going home. "I know he can complete this expedition on his own," Luke reflects as he says his goodbyes. "He doesn't need me." As a result, Ed is left to face the dangerous drug-trafficking area of Peru, known as the Red Zone, with only Oswaldo for company.

The Red Zone proves a daunting place and every local who Ed meets advises him to turn back or be killed. The majority of the population earns money from processing the coca leaves that are used to make cocaine, and thus the locals are wary of gringos, who they also fear could be looking to exploit their land for oil. For Oswaldo, the final straw comes when a death threat is hurled from the window of a passing car and Ed is left to face the Red Zone alone.

Ed refuses to abandon his trek, and he must rely on the services of day guides to see him through the jungle until he meets 29-year-old Cho, a local woodsman who knows the drug gangs. Cho agrees to accompany Ed for five days, and the first leg of their journey together sees them enter the deepest, most dangerous part of the gangs' territories.

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