Eliott Schonfeld

Let's go to the jungle
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With an area of about 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles), the Amazon rainforest is larger than the entire European Union.

Together with the adjacent Brazilian nature conservation areas, the Guiana Amazonian Park forms the largest rainforest reserve on earth. Pristine and wild and crisscrossed by countless rivers, it's perfect for an adventure.

Following in the footsteps of his role model Raymond Maufrais, French adventurer Eliott Schonfeld ventures into the deepest jungle on foot and by pirogue.

For 46 days, he does not meet another living soul. Still, he is not completely alone; the jungle is densely populated.

Path of the emerillions Ouaqui Tamouri grigel camp verdun dègrad claude
Eliott Schonfeld


Beneath the green canopy of the Amazon rainforest lies one of the most fascinating habitats on our planet. The largest rainforest on earth is home to numerous plants and animals as well as hundreds of indigenous ethnic groups.

70 – 45 METERS

Most trees in the rainforest reach a height of about 45 meters (150 feet), with some trees towering well above that at nearly 70 meters (230 feet).

Researchers estimate that about 70 percent of all animal and plant species in the rainforest are native to this light-filled canopy. Perching plants, such as bromeliads, are found on the branches. They have no roots but collect water and nutrients with a funnel they form from their leaves.

Toucans, parrots, howler monkeys, sloths, and tree snakes are among the animal inhabitants of the leafy canopy. They rarely leave it. Other species are more flexible.

The colorful (and poisonous!) tree-climbing frogs, which are actually ground dwellers, climb the trees to use the accumulated water in the bromeliad leaves as a place to mate and rear its tadpoles.

Eliott has observed iguanas—which like to keep an eye on their surroundings from above—retreat in spectacular fashion when threatened:

"The iguanas climb very high in the trees and take naps there. As soon as they hear me, they wake up and drop into the void without hesitation. So sometimes they fall from a height of 15 meters, with their body slapping the branches like a waterfall. Then there is a big 'splash', and they disappear into the river."

25 –10 METERS

Below the canopy, it gets progressively cooler and darker. The humidity rises. There are plants and animals that have adapted perfectly to these conditions, but not all live in such peaceful coexistence with the trees as the bromeliads.

The strangler fig, for example, is also a perching plant at the beginning of its life, but it soon begins to send a series of aerial roots toward the forest floor. Once there, the roots anchor themselves in the soil. Over the course of many years, the strangler fig literally constricts its host tree with its network of woody roots, depriving the tree of its sustenance.

The aerial roots of the strangler fig are often mistaken for lianas. Lianas belong to a different plant family and grow from the forest floor upwards toward the light. They use other trees only as climbing aids.

10 – 1 METER

The shrub layer is not as densely vegetated as the leafy canopy, but for Eliott, who has to thrash his way through the thicket without a machete, it's still a challenge.

In addition to countless insects, reptiles, and small mammals, plants that require little light, such as mosses, herbs, and ferns, live in this layer. Only one percent of sunlight actually reaches the rainforest floor.

The Jaguar

One of the most widely known inhabitants of this shrub layer is the jaguar, the third largest predator on earth. It likes to hunt near rivers, where it kills waterfowl, fish, and caimans (small alligator-like reptiles).

Eliott does not see a jaguar on his journey, but who knows what creatures prowl around his hammock at night.

All jungle sounds have the potential to be unnerving in the dark, but once in a while, the forest provides a unique kind of radiant illumination, as Eliott can attest from his own experience:

"All around me, half a dozen tiny sparks of wonderous light dizzily dance in the darkness. Fireflies. For hours I remain mesmerized by this spectacle and have the impression that I'm looking at the sky with bright little stars crisscrossing the universe."

On the river

Countless rivers flow through the tropical rainforest. They facilitate orientation; if you follow a river, you will eventually get back to civilization.
Eliott utilizes the waterways on his expedition. The fact that he regularly has to share his pirogue with hordes of ants, termites, and caterpillars is unpleasant, but he can overlook it. After all, much greater dangers lurk in the water and on the shore, such as the stingray and the anaconda.

"Slowly, very slowly, I turn around and in front of me I see her—the queen of the river, the anaconda! Her huge body rests in the sun on a bed of branches. I remain there, motionless, in the middle of the water, hypnotized by this animal straight out of a legend, a myth, a lost world. I cannot believe my eyes. What luck, what beauty! (...) Without warning, the snake raises its head and, in a split second, meets my gaze and plunges its 10-meter-long body into the water with incredible speed. Within three quick strides I reach the shore. A shiver runs through my entire body."

In the documentary "Amazonie", we join Eliott Schonfeld on a journey through the jungle.

We find out if he succeeds in adapting to this ancient environment—reading the jungle, mastering its dangers, and reaching the final destination of his journey.



Tickets for the E.O.F.T. 2021

E.O.F.T. is celebrating 20 years of outdoor sport and adventure films, bringing a new generation of adventurers to the big screen. This year's program takes you to the Amazon, on a bike tour around the world, and to the icy heights of the Swiss Alps. Starting in October, the European Outdoor Film Tour will once again deliver what we've all been missing—real adventures, inspiring stories, and travel, the ultimate freedom.

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