Visiting the Amazon Rainforest may well be one of the most memorable experiences that any person can have.
I recently experienced the wonder of the Amazon basin first hand, it was certainly no luxury cruise, but was an incredible connection to the heart and soul of this planet. Its beauty was literally staggering and to be honest I simply don’t have the vocabulary to describe the feelings and connection to this environment that I had coming strongly through my thickened skin. It took me a couple of days to settle into the environment the reason of which I can’t quite explain it has an almost eerie feel to it when you first get there, but once I got used to it I just let the experience rush over me.
Enjoying animals in their natural habitat
The first thing I did was take a Pampas tour, which allowed me to see the wide range of wildlife species that make their home in the rainforest. It certainly is a different experience seeing alligators, monkeys, and other such animals in their natural habitats as opposed to seeing them through glass in a zoo. The pampas are a wetland savannah bordering the Amazon basin. This particular topography is perfect for spotting animals.
However, for those who much prefer the rainforest experience, the jungle tour may be better, I would seriously consider doing both.
The jungle tour takes you right inside the rainforest which was probably the most amazing part for me. Trekking through the jungle, we were able to see the various plants and insects that can be found there. We also interacted with some of the natives and experienced first hand what it is like to be living in the Amazon and spent 2 days observing a group of bonobo chimpanzees which was absolutely incredible. The way that their society works is so loving and cooperative.
This remarkable video is of a four-day journey into the rainforest of El Oriente, Upper Amazon Basin, Ecuador, 2003-4.
We took a bus from Quito to the tiny town and jungle outpost of Tena, where we hired a taxi and went further east to a point along Rio Napo called Puerto Barantilla, where we took a boat to our jungle lodge near the mouth of Rio Arajuno. Over the next three days, we explored the region with local guides, including a memorable all-day hike through primordial forest, buzzing with streams and massive diversity of life. We also went river rafting one day after assembling a raft out of logs with our guide’s help, and hiked to amaZOOnico, an animal rescue and rehabilitation center run by local and overseas volunteers. Here we saw some of the great variety of Amazonian wildlife, including macaws, toucans, trumpet birds, tortoise, many kinds of monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, peccaries, tapirs, capybaras, agoutis, etc. The lodge served all of our meals. Dinner staple was fish with vegetables, rice, yucca or plantain, and tropical fruit, served by candlelight (the lodge had no electricity). The mosquitoes were large and vicious. The forest comes alive at night with the sound of a gazillion crickets.
Appreciation and protection of the Rainforest
Before Experiencing the wonder of the Amazon Rainforest I knew that it was important to save it as best we can but now that I have been there I fully appreciate that something as great and as important should be protected at all costs.
The beauty of the rainforest is not something that can be taken for granted and has to be experienced to really be appreciated.
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and has been aptly described as the “Lungs of our Planet”. The vast amount of vegetation that can be found there converts massive quantities of carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- Approximately 20% of the oxygen on the planet is produced by the Amazon.
- One third of all the bird species in the world live in the Amazon.
- It is home to over 500 species of mammals and 475 reptiles.
- An estimated 30 million types of insects can be found in here as well.
Respect for indigenous peoples and fauna
People native to the rainforest have been using indigenous plants as medicine for centuries. Now, scientists are beginning to discover that many of the plants in the forest can serve as cures, even for severe and previously incurable diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even AIDS.
A world of information about the medicinal properties of plants can be gained from the knowledge of the shamans and indigenous people of the Amazon. However, even these people are in danger of disappearing. Since the 1900s, more than 90 tribes in the Amazon have been destroyed.
At present, 20% of the rainforest has been destroyed.
The trees are being cut down to be used and sold. The forest is being cleared to make use of the land for subsistence agriculture, cattle ranches, and mining. The depletion and deforestation of the Amazon is indeed a big problem.
However, a viable and practical solution does exist.
It has been proven that the land can yield so much more revenue if the resources are harvested sustainably. Research shows that these resources can provide a profit of as much as $2 400 per acre, which is considerably more than the $60 per acre profit from cattle ranching and $400 per acre profit from logging. At present, native communities are managing to earn ten times as much from harvesting the plants, fruits, nuts, and oils. This profit provides more than enough incentive for them to preserve the forest through sustainable economic practices.
So I have 2 tips for you when it comes to the Amazon Rainforest. Firstly go and experience it, it is one of the things that you will never forget, it will be one of the experiences that is with you till the day you die, it will open a window to your soul and to true feelings inside you that you never thought or even dreamed possible to feel. The second tip is get on board and help save it from its destruction (believe me, that will not be difficult once you have experienced it) that is currently happening at a rate of knots and help do what ever it takes to protect it from further damage—the health of the planet depends on it.
Jason has been a proponent of all things green and conservation for many years. There are many, many environmental issues that are all caused by humans that need fixing.