The largest rainforest in the world is a place fit for adventurers and explorers, if they know how to approach it.
However, going off the beaten path in the Amazon is not an easy task. And not only because there are few beaten paths.
In particular, the Brazilian Amazon—one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet—is so big (60 percent of the 2,100,000 square mile rainforest is in Brazil), visitors think they’ve experienced it when they actually only got a tiny taste.
Most visitors go searching for fish, photogenic sunsets and the occasional boto dolphins that circle boats, but river excursions are making it possible for travelers to do much more than that. Now, curious folk can navigate up the endless dark rivers of the Amazonian forests, reaching riverside communities, learning about the struggles of the forest and seeing animal life with local guides. These are intense experiences for those who want to get to know the realities of the place.
If you are not ready or able visit the jungle evocative of mystery and adventure, this photo tour will take you on a ride along the river. Although it’s almost impossible to capture the magic of the real thing, this gallery should serve as a decent placeholder.
Gaía Passarelli is a Brazilian freelance writer based in São Paulo. She writes a travel blog and you can follow on Instagram and Twitter.
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During the dry season (October to March) it is possible to hike inside the forests. Pants and shoes are mandatory, due to insects and poisonous plants.
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South America's Largest tree is the samaúma. The roots grow on (not under) the ground and can grow to be more than 160 feet tall. These huge creatures live around 150 years.
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Safari, Amazon style: A few, quiet people aboard a canoe. Animals like otters and caimans (crocodile-like creatures) are most often under water or bordering the dense forests.
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With rivers so wide and forests so dense, boats are essential to commerce and social life. Without a boat (and fuel to run it) you can't go anywhere.
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Voadeiras (speed boats) run on diesel or gasoline. The informal economy is all based on gas--people trade food, clothes and telephone cards to fuel their vehicles.
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In an Amazonian school, the barqueiro (boat conductor) is as important as the teacher. Most riverside children depend on boats to get to and from school every day.
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The Amazon is one of the least occupied regions on the continent, but small populations are everywhere. Go up the river for two or three days straight and chances are you'll find someone living on the water.
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The result of ever growing human occupation, queimadas (burnings) are not uncommon and often get out of control. According to The Guardian, 2,251 square miles of land was cut down or burned in the Brazilian Amazon in one year.
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Although forbidden by law, it's still common for riverside people to have wild animals as pets. Most are adopted by locals.
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Like fishing, hunting is a big part of the ribeirinho daily life. Here, women of a small community called Itaquera are cutting and cleaning a paca. Later, there will be a barbecue for the whole village.