Today we paddled around a bend in the Rio Branco and the Rio Roosevelt came into view. Everyone howled with joy. After over a week of stops and starts and even flying over the Rio Roosevelt we were finally descending the river that President Theodore Roosevelt’s party explored 100 years ago. One of our goals is to see how the river has changed over the last 100 years. Is it still the wild and remote place that Roosevelt encountered?
Yesterday we encountered rubber tappers, just as Roosevelt did in 1914. We have encountered a few farms in the region, but large tracks of land remain wild and undeveloped. In fact, we recently learned that anthropologists discovered an uncontacted tribe living near the Rio Branco several months ago. The Brazilian government is setting up a reserve similar to the Cinta Larga reserve so that the uncontacted tribe will remain undisturbed and can continue to live as they have for centuries. Those people were probably living in this region when Roosevelt traveled through.
The Rio Roosevelt is a grand river, with rocky islands and numerous rapids. This afternoon we navigated 3 rapids. All of the rapids were small enough that we were able to descend them safely in our canoes and did not have to portage. We are camped at the base of the last rapids. I am listening to the dull rumble of the rapids and watching the sun dip below the horizon as I write this. I can see President Roosevelt sitting in this place writing in his journal.