Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Destination Dreaming # 12

The Brazilian Amazon


There is urgency to visit this region, as it is changing fast and will not be the same paradise tomorrow that it is today. In the January 2007 issue of National Geographic there is an article titled 'Forest to Farms/ Battle to stop the land grab' that illustrates this current situation. Pristine forest is being eradicated by loggers, soy farmers, and cattle ranchers at an alarming rate, and the Amazon's fragile ecosystem is in peril. This tropical rainforest produces half of it's own rainfall, but as trees are felled and burned, emitting high levels of greenhouse gases, there is fear that more trees will dry out and die. Despite the fact that 16,000 acres of land are supposedly under protection by the Brazilian government, corrupt officials and a limited policing of the region has not stopped the continuing decline of the basin.

Visiting the Amazon is often about visiting the river, its' tributaries, and the people who call this habitat home. Manaus, Brazil, is the main gateway to Amazon exploration. There are so many options for a journey on this calm green water world, from transatlantic cruisers between Belem and Manaus, tourist riverboats, and regular vessels for goods and locals. Of course, there are also tours that are all about the jungle, home to 70% of the worlds' plant and animal species.

I am particularly intrigued by any eco-friendly tours, which seem to focus not only on peaceful cruising along the Rio Negro, but also give you the opportunity to go on guided treks through the forest to observe wildlife and meet local settlers. Go now, when the trees are producing flowers and fruit, but the truth is that this destinations' climate is agreeable at any time of the year...just don't wait too long.

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