The Amazon Jungle, as it is commonly known in English, is a magnificent broad-leafed rainforest in the heart of Brazil, the basin of which covers an impressive area of 7 million square kilometres (or 1.7 billion acres).
It has an astonishing value in the natural world in terms of the Oxygen that it provides, the Carbon Dioxide that it consumes and the splendid array of exquisite plant- and animal species to which it is home. In fact, it is home to the most diverse and numerous arrays of species in the world.
However, the Amazon is not yet a very popular or frequented tourist destination. This is for several reasons:
1. There is a perceived danger of the dangerous human elements (drug lords, and so on) in and around the Amazon. This is not quite as risky as some foreigners believe, and formal tour groups should provide sufficient protection against any potential risk.
Green tones of the Brazilian Amazon,the tropical rainforest.
2. There is a lack of trustworthy information available to travellers; even those making use of the internet and travel agents.
3. Some tourists are frightened of the animal species that they will encounter as well as the risk of contracting Malaria and / or Yellow Fever. However, vaccines and medication are available to protect them from such illnesses and tour guides will not endanger their group in the presence of a wild animal.
The climate of the Amazon Jungle is typically tropical, with hot, humid conditions both day and night (evening temperatures are slightly cooler than those of the daytime). It is very wet in this area, no matter what time of year (although there is, technically, a drier season between April and September). Visitors will need to prepare for these conditions, which can become uncomfortable, but are well worth it.
The fauna and flora of the Amazon are, by far, the most endearing traits of this beautiful attraction. There are approximately:
• 40 000 plant species • 1 300 bird species • 430 amphibian species • 3 000 fish species • 380 reptile species
Some of the most exciting species to spot include the jaguar, Black Caiman, cougar, anaconda, wild piranha, vampire bat and the enormous hairy spiders that are fascinating, but rather intimidating.
The best way to experience the Amazon Jungle and its massive rivers are by boat. Trained guides can be hired (ensure that you are referred to a reputable guide) for individual travellers as well as larger groups. These ones will allow you to cruise along the deep waters, and spy into the dense rainforest. Many of the native villages have been built on the banks of the Amazon River, giving travellers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of their lives and communities, while not infringing on their privacy. These tours may last for a day, or can be packaged to encompass several days for a more detailed exploration of the area.
Tourism has certain negative effects on any destination, but is also beneficial for the local communities of the Amazon. It generates an income and decreases the necessity they may feel to smuggle valuable (and threatened or endangered) animals to other parts of the world for the financial gain they stand in line to gain. It also raises awareness regarding the importance of preserving the magnificent species that can be discovered within the lush foliage of the jungle.