Twenty-five years ago, three young Brazilians, inspired by the 1992 Earth Summit, fell in love with the Amazon. They decided to get to know the biggest tropical forest on earth, to really understand and feel it first hand by traversing it on bicycles. In two months, they pedaled 2,500 kilometers of the Transamazon Highway, the third longest road in Brazil, enduring exhaustion, mud and the scorching Amazon sun.
Along the way, they saw the changes and conflicts that were shaping the region: tension between people and the environment, battles over land, the razing of forests to make way for cattle pasture. And they heard the extraordinary stories of the people living along the road.
In 2017, one of these brave souls, Osvaldo Stella, will go back. Osvaldo is adjunct director of a leading environmental organization, called the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, more commonly known by its Portuguese acronym, IPAM. Moved by a desire to see the changes the last 25 years have wrought on this landscape, he will return, this time with two fellow adventurers: Paulo Moutinho, a biologist and senior scientist at IPAM, and Chris Cassidy a NASA Astronaut and U.S. Navy SEAL. Their adventure has been dubbed TransAmazon +25.
The cyclists will cover 1,000 kilometers of the highway in the states of Pará and Amazonas in September 2017. Combining scientific fact-finding and documentary filmmaking, they will experience and report the changes to the landscapes and local communities over the last two and a half decades.
Transamazon +25 invites the world to get to know and defend its greatest tropical forest. Home to 25 million Brazilians, this vast region is a treasure of inestimable value. The adventurers will open a window on the region and inspire people to pre- serve the forest and protect the rights of the people who call it home.
The Transamazon Highway is Brazil’s third longest, linking the northeastern state of Paraíba to the vast state of Amazonas. Its construction began in the 1960s and now, 50 years later, it stretches over 4,000 kilometers, half of which is still upaved – including the section chosen for this adventure.
The researcher/adventurers Osvaldo Stella, Paulo Moutinho and Chris Cassidy will pedal 1,000 kilometers, from the city of Itaituba, on the banks of the blue water Tapajós River, to Humaitá on the mighty Madeira, which drains a great arc of the Andes.
Dust, heat, biting insects, rain and mud await the cyclists. As do stunningly beautiful landscapes, extreme athletic challenge and encounters with hardy people who survive on the frontier without support or conveniences but always embracing hope for a better life. During this odyssey, Osvaldo and his fellow tra- velers will trade stories and experiences with larger-than-life personalities he first met 25 years ago. Changes in the Amazon will be shown through their eyes, and told with their stories.