Destination EcoTourist: Amazon Rainforest
Ecotourism is travel and sightseeing that combines a general vacation with an educational experience; it is the ideal way of enjoying an exciting getaway with the knowledge that you are contributing to the conservation of wildlife and the natural environment. The Amazon rainforest is one of the world’s largest and most highly-regarded ecotourism destinations. Covering an area of 2.7 million square miles, it spans 9 countries – Brazil, Peru. Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. 390 billion trees call the Amazon rainforest home, as do one in ten of the world’s species of animals.
A trip to the Amazon rainforest guarantees views of unparalleled beauty. Most people who visit have never before seen such large tracts of unspoiled nature in their lives, and many will probably never do so again. Apart from the amazing variety of unique plant and animal life native to the Amazon, visitors also have the privilege of experiencing adventures that are simply not possible anywhere else in the world.
Many lighter animals actually live large parts of their life entirely on the canopies, hardly ever venturing to the forest floor. This keeps them safe from predators but also hidden from the intrepid explorer’s eager eyes. One of the most popular new activities is the ‘treetop walk’. As the name suggests, this is an adventure at least 82 feet up in the air. A canopy walkway system built around the treescape allows you to observe the Amazon from an extraordinary window. The walkway networks stretch for kilometers, with several resting and observation platforms in between.
One of the most famous – or notorious – natives of the Amazon is the piranha. While not quite as ravenous and unstoppable as Hollywood might suggest, they are quite a species. Some operators allow for a Piranha Fishing expedition to allow you to get up close (safely) to them. As the most diverse ecosystem on the planet, the Amazon is worth a visit even without the ‘eco’ tag. However, with more than 20 percent of it already destroyed, resulting in thousands of species of wildlife made extinct from within its borders, your participation as an ecotourist can help make a huge difference. Amazon ecotourism helps fund the education of locals and helps them maintain their heritage and culture without making an adverse impact on the environment.
There are two distinct Amazon seasons – the dry and the wet. The former runs from July to December, and the latter, from January to June. It is not a matter of when the best time to visit is – each has its advantages. In the drier months, many trails and beaches are exposed as waters recede (and there are less mosquitoes, too!) The wetter months give better access to wetlands and flooded forest areas which are otherwise virtually inaccessible.