The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, Located in the heart of South America the Amazon covers 2.6 million square miles of land, and over 44% of that is protected, that’s an area larger than Greenland! Not only does the Amazon have a great deal of important and unique wildlife and plant life, but it is also a carbon sink, which means it helps to maintain the Earth’s climate naturally. This is why for decades now conservationists have worked hard to ensure parts of the Amazon Rainforest are being protected and preserved.
The Amazon Region Protected Areas, or ARPA, which was created in 2002 is one of the partnerships that has been making tracks to ensure this region is supported and protected. Since then, ARPA has established 52.8 million hectares of new national parks and reserves and continues to work on establishing more and more protected areas within the region.
Many of the National Parks in the Amazon are extremely remote and can often only be accessed by water or with the help of a guide. But by visiting the Amazon’s National Parks you have the chance to see the untouched unspoiled wilderness of the Amazon, and the completely unique parts of the world that help to keep us alive. Here are 11 of the best national parks in the Amazon Rainforest:
Located between the Napo and Curaray Rivers, the Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. The park is extremely remote and is almost 2.5 million acres of untouched wilderness from rainforest to marshlands. The Yasuni park is also home to a number of Amazonian tribes, including the Hauronai and the Taegari tribes. You can visit some Hauronai tribes with an appropriate and certified guide, but the Taegari tribe does not want contact with other humans from outside of their tribe.
Brazil’s largest wildlife reserve is home to all kinds of creatures, including pink river dolphins, uakari monkey, and the capibara, the world’s largest rodent. The area is also home to over 400 species of bird, 19 of which are parrot species. Aside from the area’s vast wildlife, the reserve also features the largest submerged forest in the world, also known as a varzea. Many people visit the reserve to take a guided tour through the varzea by boat or foot, depending on the season. In order to access the reserve itself, you actually need to take a 90-minute boat ride to the remote region.
One of the wildest parts of the Amazon, the Tumucumaque National Park in northern Brazil has waterfalls, whitewater rapids, and rivers that are often impassable. Completely unaffected by humans, the area still looks like it would have hundreds of years ago and is one of the best-protected areas in the country. Covering northern parts of the Amazon, the park is bigger than Maryland in the USA and has at least 350 bird species, as well as plenty of virtually uninhabited land.
The largest national forest reserve in South America and the largest national park in the Amazon region, Jau National Park covers an area of over 5.6 million acres. The park is a great example of the conservation of the Amazon Rainforest. Permission to access the park has to be granted by the Brazilian government and is monitored to ensure the land continues to remain unspoiled. The park is home to Jaguars, Amazonian Manatees, and Amazon River Dolphins, and further 120 mammals, 470 birds, 15 reptiles, and 320 fish species.
Established in 1979, the Pico de Neblina National Park is not only home to dense and open Amazon Rainforest but also to the country’s highest mountain range, the Pico da Neblina, of which the park was named after and whose highest peak is 9,823 feet. The park is one of the wettest areas in the Amazon Rainforest and can be difficult to access. Some areas of the park are Yanomami territory, an indigenous tribe that lives in over 200 villages in the Amazon Rainforest and on the border with Venezuela. You would need a special permit to visit these parts.
Located on the Amazon River in Colombia, the Amacayacu National Park was created in 1975. Currently inhabited by the Ticuna people, much of the land is the Amazonian jungle that is flooded by the river every year during the Amazon’s wet season. The park can sometimes be shut to the public when excessive flooding takes place, but when it is open you can access it by boat from Leticia in Colombia, at which time it is even possible to stay in the park.
One of the most well-known national parks in Peru, Manu National Park is nearly a million hectares of untouched wildlife and is home to many rare species of mammal, birds, and insects as well as jungle vegetation. Its rich biodiversity saw the park established in 1973 to conserve the unique landscape of the region, including terrain that ranges from 200 m to 4,000 m. The park is the largest protected area of land in the country, and one of the largest in South America. The reserve also includes the Manu River, the Rio Alto Madre de Dios, and some oxbow lakes, and the area is also said to have around 1,000 species of bird and 10% of all of the bird species in the world.
The largest natural reserve in Peru, Pacaya-Samiria has some of the densest wildlife habitats in the world. The over two-million-hectare reserve is made up of rainforest and wetlands in the Amazon region. This means the reserve can be a little difficult to access during the wet season of December to March. Due to its limited accessibility, the reserve is less popular than Manu National Park, although boat tours, river cruises, and camping trips are now becoming more and more possible in the reserve. Please note that unless you are on an organized tour you will need a permit from INRENA to enter the park.
Located on the upper Amazon river basin of Bolivia, the Madidi National Park is an Amazonian paradise. While Bolivia may only occupy a small portion of the Amazon Rainforest, its Amazon area is one of the largest protected areas in Bolivia. The park features snow-capped mountains, cloud forests, and tropical jungle. To access the park you can travel by boat to Rurrenbaque along the Beni River, however, it is best to experience the park with a weathered guide who can highlight wildlife and flora and fauna that is unique to this region. The park is also home to six different tribes, most of which still practice their ancient traditions.
Stretching for more than 600 miles between the Peru and Brazil border in the heart of the Amazon basin, Sierra Del Divisor is one of the best-kept secrets of the Amazon and only relatively recently became a national park in 2015. Its 3.35 million acres are home to remarkable cone-shaped watershed mountains, waterfalls, pristine rainforest, threatened wildlife, and many uncontacted Matsés and Isconahua Indians. To visit you’ll need to take a day’s ride downstream on the Ucayali River by speedboat from Pucallpa to Contamana where tours into the park can be arranged.
Formerly the Anavilhanas Ecological Station converted to National Park status in 2008, the Anavilhanas archipelago is a favorite park to visit among travelers. This remarkable complex of over 400 flooded islands on the Rio Negro is covered by hundreds of lakes, channels, and very impressive waterfalls. The islands are home to many endangered species, such as the harpy eagle, jaguar, river otters, giant armadillos, manatee, two types of river dolphin, and the spider monkey.
It is a prime birdwatching area since 60% of the birds observed in the Central Amazon can be seen here, as well as 25 species of amphibians and 42 species of reptiles. It is also remarkable as the only place where you can see every species of alligator in the Amazon. Because of this, the Anavilhanas can only be visited through certain organizations that respect the conservationist rules focused on minimum human impact and educative visitation.
You can explore the Amazon Rainforest, including some protected areas of the Peruvian, Brazilian, Bolivian, and Ecuadorian Amazon on board an Amazon river cruise. If you are unsure about which cruise to choose or would like more information about the National Parks of the Amazon rainforest, contact us and we will be happy to help.
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