The Amazon region of South America is one of the more mysterious regions of the world. Most of us are aware of the Amazon rain forest and the Amazon River, but we do not know a lot about the people who live there. We don't know anything about their cultures, histories, lifestyles, and challenges. We are equally unfamiliar with the area's biodiversity. That makes the Amazon a great place to visit for those looking for an extreme destination.
Also known as Amazonia, the region covers over 2.7 million mi² and includes the rain forest, Amazon River, and Amazon Basin. Approximately 2.1 million mi² are covered by the rain forest. This is where you will find the most diverse wildlife along with isolated indigenous people that will make your trip truly memorable.
The Amazon region is a latecomer to world tourism because of its undeveloped nature. To some extent, this is good. Being a latecomer has led the governments that control the Amazon to fully embrace eco-tourism. This means you will not find lavish hotels from worldwide chains along the banks of the Amazon River. Instead, most of the local tourism centres on environmentally friendly ‘resorts’ that practice sustainability and minimalism.
A good base of operations for Amazonian tourism is the city of Manaus. This modern city of 2 million is considered the capital of the Amazonas region of Brazil. Although it is several hours journey from Manaus to the dense rain forests you are there to see, you will find more modern accommodations. Tourists that prefer to stay closer to the action can choose from among a long list of riverside lodges and forest retreats.
Seeing the Amazon
There are many ways to see and discover the Amazon. The most important thing we can recommend is that you do not try to do it alone. The harshness of the environment is such that tourists can easily find themselves in trouble without the help of experienced guides. The best bet is to sign on with a tour operator that has plenty of experience.
You can see the Amazon by:
- Kayaking – Taking a kayaking tour down select portions of the Amazon River is an exciting way to see, in person, what most people only see in television documentaries. Kayaking is one of the more popular activities along the river.
- Biking – Cycling tours are as plentiful in the mountain regions as they are in the outlying towns and villages scattered through the Amazon region. Cycling allows you to experience more of nature than you might experience from a kayak.
- Trekking – For the hardy tourist not afraid of some exercise, trekking and backpacking are two popular ways to explore the interior of the rain forest.
No matter how you explore, you are in for a treat when you visit the Amazon. And you should visit. You will experience nature at its best and people who are not really so mysterious once you get to know them.