Expedition Watch: A Two-Horse Journey From Canada to Brazil

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On July 8, 25-year-old journalist Filipe Leite straddled one
of his two horses and rode out of the Calgary Stampede under the escort of the
Royal Mounted Police to start a 10,000-mile, two-year-long, 12-country journey that he hopes will end on his family’s ranch in Brazil. To understand the
motivations for the cowboy's quest, it helps to start with his birth. His father,
a cowboy, named him Filipe because it means friend of horses in Portuguese. He
rode a horse before he could walk. As a little boy, his father told him the
story of Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss schoolteacher who decided to ride
from Argentina to New York City in 1925 on a pair of horses. Tschiffely rode
over 16,000-foot mountain ranges, down into humid tropical jungles, and slept
in Indian villages on his way through Central America. He didn't make it to New York City, but landed in
Washington, D.C., where he was greeted at the White House by President Calvin
Coolidge in 1928. “Of high adventures, hairbreath
escapes, and deeds of daring, there were
few; yet in all the annals of exploration I doubt if any traveler, not
excepting Marco Polo himself, had more leisure than I to see and understand the
people, the animals, and plant life of the countries traversed,” said Tschiffely
in an article about the expedition.

Leite said Tschiffely's journey inspired him. The Brazilian hopes to chronicle his expedition in
a documentary. For now, he is resting in Delta, Colorado, roughly 1,000 miles from
his start in Canada. He estimates it will take him another a year and nine months of riding before he arrives home at his family’s ranch in the small town of Espirito
Santo do Pinhal, Brazil. “My horses will be retired there where they will enjoy
fresh water and green grass for the rest of their days,” says Leite. “I'm
giving them to my little sister. She's six years old now and will spoil them to

We caught up with the cowboy by email to find out a bit more about his journey.

From the road. Photo: filipemasetti/Instagram

WHO: Filipe Leite, a 25-year-old journalist who grew up on a ranch in Brazil.

WHAT: A 10,000-mile, 12-country journey
from Calgary, Canada, to Espirito Santo do Pinhal, Brazil, on two
horses. Leite travels an average of 20 miles a day and rides for four days
straight before resting for two days. He sits in the saddle for about 10 hours
a day, switching steeds when he needs to. In cities, he stays at rodeo grounds. In the country, he stays at
ranches or farms. The toughest part of his journey so far has been a four-hour
walk in the dark through Yellowstone. “I thought I was going to get mauled by a
grizzly bear,” says Leite. “It was the worst.”

WHEN: Leite left Calgary on July 8,
2012, and expects to arrive at his family’s ranch in Brazil during the summer of
2014, hopefully in time for the Olympics.

WHY: “The trip was a lifelong dream. I hope
to inspire others to follow their dreams. I want to show the world that we can
do anything we put our minds to, even if it seems as insane as riding horseback
10,000 miles from Canada to Brazil. I also hope to show how we are all
inherently the same—we all want to love and be loved. As a journalism graduate, I also
knew I wanted to do a documentary within the Americas that focused on the
dichotomy between rich and poor while also highlighting how similar we all
are—regardless of religion, creed, or social economic background. Traveling
horseback is perfect for this because it allows you to really live with the
people in all of the places you pass through. Because I need help in order to
find food, water, and the best routes for my horses, I am in constant contact
with locals. They open their ranches and farms for my horses and I, and while
sitting around the dinner table with them I get to learn so much.”

SPONSORS: Copper Spring Ranch, Mellohawk
, and Outwildtv

FOLLOW ALONG: Outwildtv, @FilipeMasetti on Twitter, Journey America on Facebook, and @FilipeMasetti on Instagram

—Joe Spring

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