The Amazon’s Endless Wave Breaks This Week

Surfers find Pororoca in peak form back in 2011. Having a skiff definitely helps the cause. Photo courtesy of Bruno Alves Facebook

Surfers find Pororoca in peak form back in 2011. Having a skiff definitely helps the cause. Photo courtesy of Bruno Alves Facebook

Destination: Pororoca | The Amazon’s Endless River Wave

Brazil’s 10-foot Tidal Bore Is Set To Break This Week

Where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean, a low rumble sounds in the distance.

For Brazilian locals, it is the ominous warning sign of impending natural destruction. For surfers and paddlers, it signals the moment they have all been waiting for.

Over the course of an hour, the rumbling intensifies and a line on the horizon begins to draw nearer. By the time it reaches the river mouth, all that can be heard is the loud roar from one of nature’s most fascinating and terrifying waves.

Pororoca.

This week, the huge tidal bore known as Pororoca–the great roar–will come tearing into the Amazon River. With it will come throngs of surfers and more recently, standup paddlers, who flock to this region with hopes of catching the longest ride of their lives.

In 2014, Robby Naish achieved that goal and put his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Widest Ride of a River Bore on a Stand-Up Paddleboard” (Yes, that’s actually an official record). Naish paddled 450 meters (nearly 1500 feet) as he cut across the formidable tide and crossed the river from bank to bank.

But before you think about grabbing your paddle and trying to nab an obscure world record of your own, think again. It’s important to understand that tidal bores aren’t just any ole’ waves. They are caused by a combination of a high ocean tide and shallow river that actually reverses the Amazon's flow. Instead of water flowing out to the ocean, a wave of water travels upstream with incredible force.

The biannual equinoxes during September and March are when the tidal bores are strongest. The combined gravitational pull from the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth results in abnormally high tides, perfect conditions for a tidal bore.

When this perfect combination falls into place–like is happening this week–waves that can reach over 10 feet travel inland for miles. It sounds like a surfer’s dream, but the Amazon is not for the faint of heart. Crocodiles, snakes, piranhas, parasites and diseases make this a harrowing journey.

Nevertheless, surfers and paddlers are gathered this week as they await Pororoca. All with the dream of surfing one of nature’s greatest anomalies into the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

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