We arrived in the bustling metropolis of Manaus a couple of days ahead of our group to begin our first exploration of the vast equatorial area known as Amazonia. It was hot and humid. Daily rain downpours were heralding the last of the rainy season. Even casual walks outside of our air conditioned hotel resulted in fully soaked sweaty clothing. But we were eager to get on the river leaving the city of 2 million people behind and explore this rainforest mystery for our first time. We were to fly down river to meet our boat, the Iracema in the town of Santarem and then make our way slowly back up river back to Manaus. This stretch of river at the height of the wet season especially is little explored because it is so remote. Even our guides had seen very little of the area so.... armed with GPS, maps and field guides we set out.
The immensity of the Amazon Rainforest area of South America is mythical especially to those of us who do not live there. It is the largest river system in the world measured both by its distance from the source high in the Peruvian Andes (4325 miles) and width (25 miles at its widest in rainy season) and indeed by its volume of water. Roughly 20 % of all of the Earth’s river waters discharge daily out of the mouth of the Amazon emptied continuously into the Atlantic Ocean. Also remarkable is the extent of biodiversity of the earth’s creatures that inhabit this vast area. Exotic primates, reptiles, insects, flora and marine mammals among them. Recently we were fortunate to join a small group of adventurers to explore a little traveled portion of the Amazon area on a small river boat built especially for exploration. Our journey covered more than 500 miles over two weeks as we traveled when the Amazon is at its highest level just as the rainy season comes to an end. This circumstance allowed us to go into little traveled tributaries and explore vast flooded forest areas by canoe granting us wonderful access to the remote forest areas. In some areas we found higher "terra firma" forests to explore on foot. We are still processing all that we experienced. Amazonia is an amazing place…it is truly a working river with large cities and small remote settlements and truly vast areas of wild forest. Transportation is accomplished either by boat or by air. There are very still few roads as yet but there is pressure to change this to provide access to the areas rich natural resources of timber and minerals, especially gold.
Here are some of things we saw. Hope you enjoy the look.