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Traveling Through The Amazon Rainforest

Tropical jungle
© Teo Tarras / Shutterstock
The Amazon rainforest is a unique area in South America where you can find an incredible variety of endemic animals and plants. It is the world's largest rainforest, home to about 30% of all the animals and plants ever found in the world. There are still indigenous tribes, who have been living according to the same way of life for thousands of years. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, more than 1.4 million hectares of forest have been cleared for potential building and agriculture. In the 2010s, this process was taken under control, and the number of ​​protected areas increased by 17%. In other words, a trip to the Amazon is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the life of the indigenous South American tribes and explore hundreds of rare species of animals and plants. So what are the main facts about the Amazon rainforest you need to know when going on a journey through this region?

Amazon Rainforest Location

The Amazon rainforest lies in nine countries in South America — Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname, and French Guiana. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, covering nearly 5.5 million km2. At the same time, it is home to about 40 thousand plant species, 3 thousand fish species, 1.2 thousand birds, 130 thousand mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. However, the jungle also hides many threats. For example, large predators, poisonous insects, reptiles, as well as dangerous plants, can be found here.

The entire territory is permeated by the deepest river in the world — the Amazon and its tributaries. Flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, it forms one of the largest deltas in the world.

Furthermore, the Amazon rainforest is home to about 450 native tribes. About 75 of them do not maintain contact with the outside world and any signs of civilization. They, like thousands of years ago, are engaged in hunting, farming, fishing, and gathering.

Aerial View of Amazon Rainforest
Amazon © Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

Best Countries To Explore Amazon Rainforest

There are three main directions for travel in the Amazon — Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador.

Brazil — The Magnitude Of The Amazon River

Manaus is the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon with a population of about two million individuals. This city includes one of the widest parts of the Amazon (10 km), where you can feel the size and strength of this stunning river. In the eastern part of the city, people have the opportunity to enjoy an incredible natural phenomenon — the confluence of rivers. At the same time, their waters do not mix, which is why you can see a clear border between the dark Rio Negro and the light Solimoes.

Besides, it is the destination where the majority of jungle boat tours start. On the shores of the numerous tributaries and lakes that make up the Amazon basin, there are a variety of hotels, villas, and tourist lodgings that are styled as Indian huts. In turn, the tours usually include jungle walks where you can see monkeys, sloths, parrots, caimans, jaguars, tapirs, and capybaras. The local waters are home to dangerous piranhas, river dolphins, and unique fish species.

Panthera Onca, Cuiaba River, Porto Jofre, Pantanal Matogrossense
Jaguar, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil © reisegraf.ch / Shutterstock

Peru — The Most Affordable Prices

Iquitos is the largest city on the planet with no land connections to other cities. The only way to get there is by water or air transport. Moreover, it is tremendously convenient to get to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (the second largest reserve in Peru) from this city. In fact, there are over 1000 species of animals in the Amazon rainforest, including manatees, pink and gray dolphins, arachnid monkeys, cougars, cormorants, herons, turtles, and 965 plants. It is the area where you can find the indigenous tribes who live according to their ancient traditions and beliefs.

Puerto Maldonado is a small town located 55 kilometers away from the border with Bolivia. Nearby, you can find the Tambopata-Candamo Reserve Zone, which is famous for its parrots. Best of all, they can be seen on the steep bank, where they flock every morning. Firstly, these colorful birds circle around and then sit down to eat clay, enriched with salts. The whole "show" lasts about half an hour, but this unusual sight will be remembered for a lifetime.

Night scene of Iquitos Night side Amazon riverside
Iquitos, Peru © Karol Moraes / Shutterstock

Ecuador — Great Biodiversity

El Coca (Puerto Francisco de Orellana) is a city in the eastern part of Ecuador, at the confluence of the Coca and Napo rivers. It is close to two stunning natural areas — Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Nature Reserve.

Yasuni is home to about 40 endemic animals. In spite of the fact that this area contains less than 0.15% of the Amazon basin, it is home to about a third of all Amazonian species of amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Yasuni National Park is the most biologically diverse place on Earth, which combines three unique regions, such as the equator, the Amazon rainforest, and the Andean mountains.

Cuyabeno Nature Reserve is the second largest nature reserve in Ecuador. Periodically, it is flooded, which creates unique living conditions for animals and plants. During these periods, dolphins, more than two hundred species of fish, anacondas, boas, and caimans can swim into the forest.

Night view harbor one of the first navigable point in the amazon basin
Port of Misahualli in Ecuador © Ammit Jack / Shutterstock

How To Avoid Health Issues In The Amazon Rainforest

Rainforests are associated with a variety of threats, some of which are carefully hidden from human eyes. In order to prevent health issues, you should follow simple rules:

  • Before traveling to the Amazon rainforest, it is necessary to get vaccinated against yellow fever. Its main vectors are mosquitoes, which become infected by biting sick monkeys and humans. This disease is not transmitted directly from person to person. The main danger of yellow fever is that there is no specific treatment for it. It will also be useful to get a tetanus shot.
  • It is worth paying attention to the choice of hiking clothing. It should be made of lightweight, quick-drying fabric (preferably cotton). You should definitely take T-shirts (shirts) with short and long sleeves, long trousers, a warm jacket, a raincoat, a bathing suit, and several pairs of socks. Besides, you will need a headdress, preferably it should be brim. Shoes should be very comfortable and waterproof. Each time you wear or take off your shoes, you need to double-check them for the presence of uninvited biting "guests". The fewer exposed areas of skin, the less chance of getting a mosquito or spider bite. It is best to wear light-colored clothing because it attracts less insect attention. A repellent with an OFF factor of 35 must be used for all exposed areas of the body.
  • You need to take seriously the contents of the first aid kit. It should contain analgesics and histamines that quickly relieve pain and discomfort caused by sun exposure and insect bites. Don't forget about sunscreen.
  • When you go on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, you need to pay a considerable amount of attention to your water balance. The humid tropical climate causes dehydration very quickly, which can be explained by intense perspiration. Usually, there are sources of drinking water on tourist routes. Nevertheless, it is recommended to stock up on special tablets for water purification.
Poison dart frog with yellow spots and blue legs
Ranitomeya vanzolinii © Dirk Ercken / Shutterstock

Rules Of Conduct During The Trip In The Amazon Rainforest

In addition to important rules related to maintaining health, there are a number of other rules that will help you avoid troubles in the "lungs of the planet".

  • First of all, when going on a hike, you need to hire a professional guide who knows the Amazon very well. Otherwise, traveling on your own can be deadly. Don't imagine yourself as a movie hero who has the power to walk around and explore the territory with a machete.
  • Usually, the hiking programs include visits to indigenous people, whose traditions must be honored and treated with caution. Before taking pictures or videos, be sure to ask permission from local residents. It is also worth discussing the finances immediately, as some tribes allow you to take pictures only for money.
  • This may seem obvious, but don't leave trash behind. The ecological situation in the Amazon rainforests is at risk due to the cutting down of trees.
  • It is forbidden to collect wildlife samples. Firstly, they can be poisonous. Secondly, custom regulations will not allow you to export the plants without special permission.
  • A humid climate has a detrimental effect on technological devices, so it is worth taking care of special sealed cases. You also need to stock up on additional batteries and power banks, since electricity is provided on schedule in this remote area. Also, tourists can use generators.
Jaguar in the Amazon Jungle
Jaguar © Adalbert Dragon / Shutterstock
Pataxó Indians are seen during indigenous games
Pataxó Indians, Santa Cruz Cabralia © Joa Souza / Shutterstock

Best Time To Visit The Amazon Rainforest

Ashaninkas and tourist group, natives of the jungle of Peru
Ashaninkas of the jungle of Peru © Milton Rodriguez / Shutterstock

The best time to visit the Amazon region is from early April to late May. This is the borderline period between the rainy season (November—April) and the hottest season that starts in June.

However, during floods, you have the opportunity to explore the jungle by boat. During other seasons, excellent hiking trails become available (with fewer mosquitoes).

The average temperature does not change much throughout the year, and it varies around +30°C.