Amazon Rainforest (02:19)
On March 29, 1914, Theodore Roosevelt declared he was too weak to continue the South American expedition. Candido Rondon led the journey. Experts reflect on the hostility of the environment.
Amazon Expedition: Day 1 (08:42)
On January 21, 1914, Roosevelt and his son Kermit begin an expedition to chart the River of Doubt. Under Rondon’s guidance, explorers had to trek almost 400 miles across Mato Grosso to reach the headwaters. The Americans had an over-abundance of provisions; pack animals rebelled.
Era of Exploration (04:00)
In the early 20th century, explorers risked their lives to obtain geographical prizes. The Amazon, virtually unknown to westerners, was a place of myths and mystery.
Amazon Expedition: Day 6 (10:24)
By January 26, 1914, the explorers had traveled less than 75 miles. Rondon eliminated midday meals and the men rode through high heat and humidity; they bonded over stories at night. Roosevelt experienced physical challenges as a child and tragedy when his wife and mother died in 1884.
Amazon Expedition: Day 11 (07:02)
The explorers were almost 200 miles from the River of Doubt's headwaters. They encountered swarms of insects, malaria, and dysentery. Edith Roosevelt expected Kermit to look after his father; Kermit pined for his fiance.
Amazon Expedition: Day 28 (09:26)
The explorers followed a path previously traversed by Rondon and crossed through the land of the Nhambiquara. The tribe nearly killed Rondon on their first encounter, but his pacifist approach gained their friendship. Roosevelt considered Indians wards of the nation that must be civilized.
Amazon Expedition: Day 36 (05:57)
Most of the pack animals died. The explorers reached the River of Doubt on February 25, 1914, but supplies were dangerously low. Rondon obtained seven dugouts to travel downriver; some team members were dismissed.
Amazon Expedition: Day 38 (10:27)
The explorers began their journey down the serpentine River of Doubt; the placid waters belied hidden dangers. On March 2, 1914, they began encountering rapids and forced portages. River conditions and Rondon's detailed surveying slowed the trip, annoying Roosevelt.
Amazon Expedition: Day 54 (07:19)
The explorers averaged less than six miles a day and had to fashion new boats after two escaped the moorings. On March 15, 1914, Kermit chose to canoe down the rapids and one of his boatmen died; they also lost a week's worth of rations.
Amazon Expedition: Day 55 (06:48)
George Cherrie predicted a rations deficit of 35 days. The explorers were under surveillance by native peoples and Rondon's dog was killed as a warning; the Americans felt under threat of an assault.
Leadership Quarrel (04:01)
Roosevelt and Rondon argued about mapping the River of Doubt. On March 18, 1914, Rondon announced the renaming of the River of Doubt to the Rio Roosevelt.
Lost Expedition (05:42)
On March 23, 1914, "The New York Times" reported that Roosevelt and Kermit were lost in the Brazilian rainforest. Cherrie's diary entry, dated the same day, revealed the explorers' precarious situation. Four days later, Roosevelt received an injury that became infected.
Amazon Expedition: Day 67 (06:24)
On March 28, 1914, the explorers encountered a canyon. Roosevelt suffered from a leg infection and malaria, and told Rondon and Kermit to leave him behind. They refused and devised a plan to navigate the canyon.
Amazon Expedition: Day 73 (06:48)
The explorers were weak and despair increased. On April 3, 1914, Julio killed a fellow camaradas and disappeared into the jungle; Roosevelt and Rondon argued about locating the murderer.
Amazon Expedition: Day 74 (10:14)
On April 4, 1914, Roosevelt's fever returned and he became delirious; Rondon refused to abandon him. On April 15th, the explorers encountered an outpost; they reached the mouth of the river on April 26th. The Americans traveled to Manaus and Rondon returned to the jungle.
Expedition Aftermath (05:32)
Roosevelt returned to New York and faced criticism of his journey in South America; he proved his claims. Roosevelt never returned to full vigor and died on January 6, 1919. Kermit committed suicide in 1943. Rondon continued to fight for indigenous rights in Brazil.
Credits: Into the Amazon (01:42)
Credits: Into the Amazon
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