Molly Crookshank: Water-to-Go kept me safe in the Amazon

Hello there, my name is Molly Crookshank and I am an Animal Biologist living in Edinburgh with a strong passion for wildlife and conservation. This summer I spent time in Guyana and Ecuador assisting scientific research in the rainforest at the Iwokrama reserve and Timburi Cocha Research Station. Travelling with my Water-to-Go bottle I was able to experience these fascinating places without any risk of illness from drinking water. It also meant I bought less plastic bottles on my journey. 

I completed my final research project for my undergraduate degree in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. This was an unforgettable experience and what made me so determined to completed my degree. Unfortunately due to the water quality I was frequently unwell, which affected my fitness out on survey. I was therefore delighted to have Water-to-Go sponsor me a bottle for my jungle adventure this summer 2018 and felt totally prepared for what was to come.

“Water-to-Go have successfully specialised in making filtration bottles to eliminate 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. This was ideal as it meant I could drink straight from the Amazon River.”

Molly Crookshank

 

Operation Wallacea Research Project in Guyana

My journey started in Guyana, one of the most intact rainforests in the world. This was with Operation Wallacea, a conservation and research organisation. Research was carried out in Iwokrama reserve, the green heart of Guyana.

Monitoring the biodiversity is vital in order to see how their sustainable logging is affecting the forest. Surveys are carried out daily and in the intense heat and humidity, keeping hydrated was essential.

Living in the forest was incredible, we slept in hammocks, had bucket showers and had basic structures made by the locals where we had our jungle laboratory.

In this remote environment living so close to people, it is easy to get sick. In fact nearly half the scientist became ill with a parasite from drinking the water and prevented them going out on survey. However, I was able to stay fit and healthy throughout the entire time on expedition, for which I am very grateful to Water-to-Go.

Getting to know the locals in Guyana was a true highlight and re-emphasised the importance of local engagement to conservation. Their own commitment to their environment is incredibly strong and their expert knowledge of their surroundings is invaluable.

Jungle Journey Continued: Exploring Ecuador

After the most incredible month spent in Guyana, I continued my jungle journey to the Amazon in Ecuador to assist a PhD student at Timburi Cocha Research Station adjacent to the Payamino River.

This was such an amazing experience and I got to see how the local communities are using and benefiting from their rainforest. Coffee and cocoa are the main crops produced in this region.

For the PhD we dissected bromeliads from the amazon rainforest, at different heights of trees and collected the invertebrates. This was great fun to test my invertebrate taxonomy and luckily it didn’t take long for me to get used to the creepy crawlies. I have always been fascinated by ants as they are amazing ecosystem engineers and have colonised on nearly every continent!

One of the highlights was walking up Armadillo Hill to get a spectacular view over the amazon. Having my Water-to-Go bottle, meant I didn’t have to worry about the source of the water I was drinking from, so I was able to keep hydrated throughout the long hike. 

Having being able to fully embrace every moment of the rainforest without suffering any illness, I was able to get far more out of this trip compared with 2017.   

I was lucky enough to have a week after to travel around Ecuador. With the incredible mountainous terrain and beautiful waterfalls, it didn’t take long to realise how truly amazing this country was.

Having my Water-to-Go bottle I not only cut down on plastic bottles but I also never had to worry about drinking from the tap in the towns and cities.

What adventure is my bottle going to take me on next?

I have recently just started my postgraduate Masters course in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at Edinburgh Napier University.  For my research project, I plan to go to South Africa next June to study in the Gondwana Reserve. Here I will be looking at the effects of herbivore grazing in the Cape Floral Kingdom. With the Water-to-Go replaceable filters, I can now take my bottle and stay hydrated for my data collection in South Africa.

Thank you Water-to-Go!

Adventurers kayak the length of the Amazon

Between June and October 2015 Adventure Athlete Tarran Kent-Hume and teammate Olie Hunter Smart travelled the length of the Amazon River, 6,800km’s (4,300 Miles).

Beginning this expedition at the Mantaro River which turns into the Amazon River. This is the furthest and most distant source of the Amazon River.

They travelled 4,300 miles in under 5 months, beginning in the Andes of Peru hiking over the peaks and valleys sitting some 4,500 meters above sea level. They experience hot days and freezing nights with the temperature rising to over 44 degrees and dropping to a chilly minus 4 in the night.

ball-gowns-promEn route they passed through the most dangerous part of South America called the RED ZONE, where over 70% of the worlds cocaine production comes from. This meant being confronted on the river with shotguns being pointed at them. Being able to interact with some of the native tribes including the Ashkaninka tribe. Being shot at by pirates and dealing with the constant threat of robbery as well as some scary 15ft waves as they approached the Atlantic Ocean.

As they passed through some dangerous areas on the river the Peruvian and Brazilian Navy and Marines would at times follow them in gunboats for safety. Sleeping on Sandbanks and in small communities they encountered all types of Amazonian animals including a close encounter with some crocodiles.

Tarran said, “ This is scary and very real, but what an incredible experience”.

For all the danger, they we’re taken in by the people of the river and encountered much kindness and friendliness as the river passed through Peru, Columbia and Brazil.

Travelling some 80km and 10 hours per day, the river went from a close small stream with the jungle in Peru to the huge Amazon expanse in Brazil where there is not a dot of land in sight, using GPS and maps as a guide.

The pair held Google Hangouts with classrooms from around the world talking about their challenges and experiences on the river with an aim to inspire many of their young followers to embrace life and follow their passion.

GOPR2625Tarran & Ollie were both armed with Water-to-Go water bottles to ensure safe drinking water throughout the expedition.

“In planning for my Amazon Expedition I knew getting access to clean drinking water was going to be a headache until I met Water-to-Go and this was just what I was looking for”, Tarran explains.

“The Waters along the Amazon River and tributary the Mantaro River are not clean enough to drink and with space and weight being a major concern, carrying a large pump style water filter seemed excessive. The water to go bottles are simple and easy to use. Kayaking along I’d simply dip the bottle into the water and start drinking, so simple. The fact that they not only have a great product but have an environmentally conscious outlook that helps to reduce the amount of plastic we use fits great with my personal values.”

The last 22 hours was spent in the kayak as they pushed to finish at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at midnight and kayaking through the night, tying their kayaks to a mangrove tree for hours whilst they waited for the tide to turn, battling huge waves and string winds they eventually made it to the Atlantic on October 29th 2015. In the process Tarran Kent-Hume became the first Australian to travel the length of the Amazon River from its furthest and most distant source.