Seniors Explore the Amazing Rainforest

This senior has always been enthralled with the Amazon region in South America. The Amazon Rain Forest covers more than two million square miles of the earth’s surface, spanning eight South American countries. The Rainforest, also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers 40% of South America.

Although the region has no seasons, the Amazon River rises and falls by as much as 30 feet during the year, and the variety of living things senior visitors can see changes with it. Every journey in this area reveals new wonders. The Amazon River has more than 200 tributaries.

The name Amazon: Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish conquistador and the first European to travel the length of the Amazon river, in 1541-42. Along the way, he and his men ran into a tribe of fierce women warriors, each “doing as much fighting as ten Indian men.” Orellana recalled the Greek myth of warrier women and named the entire river “Amazonas.”

Seniors Encounter Staggering Numbers

The forest spans nine countries, with much of it in Brazil but also stretching into Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Venezuela, Bolivia and Suriname.  The numbers of the Amazon Rain Forest are staggering: 40,000 plants species, 3,000 freshwater fish species and more that 370 types of reptiles. What is also amazing to me as I write this blog is the fact that more than 30 million people including 350 indigenous and ethnic groups, live in the Amazon.

Each year, the Amazon loses forested areas the size of the state of Delaware. Agricultural expansion, ranching, infrastructure projects, energy exploration and illegal logging are to blame. I can not fathom the quantity of water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean: up to 300,000 cubic meters per second (11,000,000 cu ft/s) in the rainy season. The Amazon is responsible for about 20% of the Earth’s fresh water entering the ocean and they say that the color of the water is like chocolate milk.

More than a third of the world’s species—mostly plants and insects—make their home in the Rain Forest. But with the help of an experienced guide, senior travelers can also glimpse a rainbow of exotic creatures that includes toucans, red deer, harpy eagles, poison dart frogs, spider monkeys and pink dolphins. One in ten known species lie within the Amazon Rainforest.

 The astonishment and beauty of the Amazon is found “in the intricacy of this fabulously complex ecosystem.”  Most senior travelers visit the western areas of the rain forest that remain largely untouched. The headwaters of the Amazon River are in the Andes Mountains of Peru, a mere 120 miles to the west (190 km) from the Pacific Ocean. From there the River stretches eastward for approximately 4,000 miles (6,400 km) until if finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Belém in Brazil.

Enjoy your every moment in Amazonia as it will surely be memorable.   jeb



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