Orlando Duque’s Amazon Dive: The whole story

Orlando Duque’s Amazon Dive went beyond a simple jump into the river. Find out how.
By Evan David

In them most literal definition of the words, Orlando Duque went to the Amazon to dive into the unknown.

While climbers on Everest know which way they are going, Duque and friends entered the jungle basin still searching for the tree that would allow them to practice their art in a location it's never been seen before.

The goal was high trees and deep water. The deep-water part meant they'd be exploring during the Amazon's rainy season – which isn't easy. It means mosquitos, mud, and pretty much everything is wet. It's a constant battle to keep dry.

Their quest revealed many trees before the perfect location came to light – a 35m tall Ceiba tree, towering over the brown soup of the Amazon river. They also learned about the lives of the locals. “The natives show you a simpler way of living. Their entire lives take place along the river or nearby. If it rises, they live with it, if it falls, they live with it.”

Orlando Duque performs during Red Bull Amazon Diving in the Amazon, Brazil on March 12th, 2014
Toes to the sky © Camilo Rozo/Red Bull Content Pool

For the climbers rigging the tree for the dive, it was no easy task: ants and wasps were a constant harassment as they worked to build a platform suitable for diving.

What Orlando and dive partner Eber Pava had to deal with was the unknown. For the experienced divers, the height of the tree wasn't a problem – it's the depth of the water beneath it – and the murky consistency that hides the unknown. Lurking beneath was danger both known and unknown – even small sticks can cause major injury, and crocodiles can do much worse.

Orlando Duque climbs up the tree during Red Bull Amazon Diving in the Amazon, Colombia on March 15th, 2014
Ladder to the leaves © Fabio Piva/Red Bull Content Pool

“Usually, once I hit the water, I relax. But in the Amazon, there's piranhas, and black eels – you want to get out of the water as quickly as you can!”

Despite the danger, Orlando and Eber dove again and again, bringing their unique talent to an incredibly unique environment. In this case, it wasn't about the height of the dive – but from where they got to take off.

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