Orlando Duque has probably dived off more unique spots than anyone in the world — off massive cliffs, in big cities, and in front of ancient monuments. But in late March, he's going even further. South of his native Colombia, the Amazon river winds through the South America jungle. To most cliff divers, it offers little interest – there's not a lot of cliffs.
I've never high-dived off a tree!
There is, however, the unique ceiba tree. Towering over the jungle, its height will allow Duque and partner Eber Pava to dive from almost 30m, as they explore different parts of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. It's a unique environment and the challenges are immense.
Ordinarily, Duque needs as little as 3m of water depth to complete a 25m jump. However, they are looking for a little bit more. “Every time, we want to make sure there's clearance to 5m of depth,” he says. “We'll be checking all the landing areas carefully.
“The rainy season – which is right now – is what gives us the necessary depth for us to dive. But it also means a lot of dark run-off, meaning water will be extra murky."
We'll be checking all the landing areas carefully.
Moving water isn't an issue. “There is a current, but it's not moving very fast,” says Duque. Climbers will meanwhile help rig the trees for the divers to climb.
And while there will be plenty of wildlife, it's not the crocs, caimans and mosquitoes that have Duque worried, it's the Candiru fish. The infamous catfish is supposed to be able to swim 'upstream' and latch on to places you don't want a fish hanging from.
Despite the challenges, Duque is super excited by the trip: “I've jumped off almost everything you can think off, but I've never high-dived off a tree.”
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