You’ve heard of Kodak Courage. Call this one Playstation Bravery. A gig with PlayStation resulted in a big plunge for extreme kayak Pedro Olivia. While it resulted in a swim, Olivia–tasked with creating an “uncharted adventure” to mark the release of PlayStation’s ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’—opted to run 82-foot-high Juruena falls in the Amazon rainforest, after turning away from the feat five years ago.
‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’, is the latest installment in the action-adventure series which sees protagonist, adventurer and treasure hunter Nathan Drake travel the world through cities, mountains and jungle lands – the latter of which bear a strong similarity to the Juruena falls and its surrounding area.
“My goal here was to face my fears,” says Olivia. “I’ve been chasing this a really long time. For me it’s the most powerful waterfall in my life. The waterfall is similar to the scenery in Uncharted 4. You have two waterfalls, a rock in the middle, the birds, the blue sky, the wind, the sun and all this combination is unique.”
With his support team watching on anxiously, Olivia first threw a plastic barrel with an integrated GPS system down the falls to understand the flow and assess his line. He then pony’d up and picked it, plunging over the falls.
The impact was so strong that he initially believed he’d lost his hearing as he was submerged under the water for 10 seconds. His boat flipped several times before the force of the drop and the water’s power ejected him. “The water took me from my kayak like a doll,” he says. “I did many flips. It was crazy.”
When his empty kayak reappeared at the foot of the falls, the safety team sprung to action.
“When I hit the water it felt like a kick in the chest,” he says. “Everything went completely dark. In an instant I was about 10 meters underwater and my eardrums almost burst. I felt a huge pain in the head and ears, I thought I had lost my hearing.”
Shortly later, he bobbed to the surface and emerged from the torrent.
Five years ago, Olivia first attempted to kayak the falls, but turned back, too afraid to paddle over the edge. The defeat left him with the ambition to return. “You can have fears in your life, and Juruena for me represents this,” he says. “Five years ago I saw the waterfall and it was too strong for me at that time.”
Olivia has paddled some of the world’s fiercest rivers and waterfalls, earlier descending 127-foot Salto Belo falls in Brazil.
The Juruena falls lie in Brazil’s third largest national park in the Mato Grosso region, known as the ‘green hell’ of the Amazon forest.
“I’m so happy I conquered my fears,” he says. “That was my goal.”