May 5, 2013: An Ambush on the Amazon, Croc Attacks in Africa and More

Adventurer Davey du Plessis rides across the Andean foothills near the source of the Amazon River in Peru. His attempt to follow the river from source-to-sea was cut short by a gun ambush in the jungle. (photo courtesy of Davey du Plessis)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!

Episode: 1319 – Air Date: May 12


It all started with a desire to explore the length of the Amazon River, from its source in the Peruvian Andes to the Brazilian Atlantic Coast. But after hiking and biking 600 miles through logging trails and dense forest, Davey du Plessis put his boat into the water and began to paddle. It was on this leg where his life changed forever. He was randomly ambushed and shot several times by two locals. He tells Boyd about how he survived and how the journey changed his life, but hasn’t diminished his desire for a life of adventure.
Segment 1: Listen here.
Segment 2: Listen here.

Ten years had passed since Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay’s British organized expedition became the first to summit Mount Everest; in the next decade, a team of Swiss climbers summited and unproven claims of a Chinese summit followed. But not until Jim Whittaker reached the tallest peak in the world, did an American successfully climb Everest. The story of the expedition is captured in detail in Broughton Coburn‘s new book, The Vast Unknown. Listen here.

Since cellphones with cameras have become ubiquitous around the world, finding a practical purpose for the shots snapped have allowed software developers to dream big. Marrying the technology with conservation has led Zoe Jewell and Sky Alibhai to found WildTrack, a company dedicated to tracking endangered animals in a less invasive way than one that involves using tranquilizer darts and traditional GPS collars. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic’s Daily News, tells humans aren’t the only animals that use non-verbal communication: elephants and fish both use body-language to let each other know what they’re thinking. Listen here.


Professional kayaking guide Hendri Coetzee was attacked by a large man-eating crocodile while kayaking from Lake Victoria into Democratic Republic of the Congo, while exploring the region’s white water. He was last seen by partners Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic. Two years later, he Australian croc expert and National Geographic explorer Matt Wright went back to the Lukuga River to search for the offending reptile, and any of his other friends. He tells Boyd about his trip and the unique circumstances on this river that give crocodiles an appetite for humans. Listen here.

The ongoing advances of science into understanding human genetics is shedding some light onto the process of aging. Some centenarians preach moderation of diet and alcohol consumption as the key to their longevity, but Stephen Hall, author of On Beyond 100, in the May 2013 issue ofNational Geographic magazine, tells Boyd that their advanced age likely has as much to do with their DNA as with their lifetime habits. Listen here.

Food doesn’t have to be unhealthy to be delicious. In her new book, More Peas, Thank YouSarah Matheny reveals her secrets to getting husbands and children to eat vegetarian foods. She also encourages Boyd to only go as far as he wants; don’t eat tofu if it’s not to your liking, and that dessert can be an important part of a meal. Listen here.

As water becomes more scarce across America’s western states, Mexico and the United States recently reached an agreement that will allow more of the Colorado River to flow into Mexico, restoring the river’s recently arid delta. National Geographic Fellow Sandra Postel tells Boyd about this agreement and encourages listeners to help “Change the Course” of the Colorado River by pledging money and water to the river’s cause. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares 66 facts about the historic Route-66, inspired by a recent personal milestone that shall remain nameless. Listen here.

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.