5 Things To Do On An Amazon River Tour
The Amazon River and rainforest is a place like no other, it's huge, mostly unexplored and it boasts incredible biodiversity unrivaled anywhere on earth. As a visitor to this unique and spectacular part of the world, you'll find there are countless options for things to see and do – many of which are experiences you can't really have anywhere else. Here we’ll take a look at 5 things to do on an Amazon River tour...
1. Learn About Medicinal Plants
Around a quarter of the pharmaceuticals commonly used in the Western world derive from plants and natural materials found in the Amazon Rainforest. Effective or promising treatments have been found here for everything from gastric problems to mental health issues, cancer to diabetes. Some you will have heard of, like Brazilian Ginseng (Suma), widely used as an energy supplement and immune system booster. Others are less well-known outside of the area – including the bark of the Tawari Tree, commonly used to treat inflammation and regarded as having strong potential for fighting cancerous tumours, and the oddly-named digestion aid, Cola de Raton (Rat's Tail). Estimates suggest that only around 1% of its available resources have undergone significant testing for measurable medicinal properties and effects. Little surprise, then, that so much scientific research and major pharmaceutical backing continues to focus on exploration and discovery within the Amazon Rainforest environment. For more information on this topic, see our Medicinal Plants of the Amazon or Top 7 Superfoods of the Amazon post.
2. Go Piranha Fishing
The vast, winding waterways of the Amazon Rainforest are home to many unique species of fish, and among the most iconic must be the infamous red-bellied piranha. This relatively small and speedy shoal fish has earned itself a rather overblown reputation in the West, based largely on its prominent dental work and carnivorous tendencies. In reality, around 20 different species of piranha can be found swimming freely in the Amazon – and of those, many are omnivorous or entirely vegetarian, subsisting largely on a diet of aquatic plants supplemented with a few native seeds. The fish is not eaten everywhere in the Rainforest, but in many places (particularly the Pantanal region of Brazil), a bowl of piranha soup is commonly served as a prized local delicacy.
3. Swim with Pink River Dolphins
Pink dolphins are rare and unique to the Amazon and Orinoco rivers in South America, and swimming with them in the Amazon is an amazing experience. They are beautiful, gentle creatures and you can take a dip with them, and feed them. You may be concerned about piranhas, alligators and caimans in the water, but thankfully if pink dolphins are there, the other creatures won’t be – they tend to congregate in areas of calm and reasonably clear water, and while not typically as sociable as their more common seagoing cousins, groups which have become more accustomed to interaction with visitors will happily hang around and play with fellow swimmers.
4. Taste Local Cuisine
There is a great selection of delicious traditional meals served up in the rainforest area, made from a dizzying array of natural resources native to the Amazon. Fish is understandably a real staple: in Ecuador and Peru you'll find ceviche widely available, in which raw fish is marinated with a mixture of citrus juice and spices, and served with plantain chips and salad. Juanes – a delicious muddle of rice and meat (pork or chicken) rolled in banana leaves – are also very common, particularly on market stalls and street corners in the Peruvian Amazon. If you're feeling brave, you can even sample treats made from the wildly abundant insect life in the region, including the grub-like suri. These low-fat, high-protein snacks are most often served skewered on wooden sticks and grilled, and have a woody, nutty crunch with a remarkably pleasant savory flavor. Learn more about What People Eat in the Amazon.
5. Walk the Canopy Bridges
In the Amazonian Rainforest, just like in many heavily wooded areas, the treetop canopies are where so much of the most enchanting spectacle and vibrant activity takes place. Many areas, in particular the Peruvian Amazon, offer travelers a thrilling passage among the towering foliage blooms via a system of hanging bridge networks. Usually positioned above 25m high, these canopy walkway systems provide a suspended link between observation platforms. Such dramatic pathways among the leaves offer a truly unique vantage point from which to observe some of the most intense, secretive and enlightening natural behaviors taking place all around you. It's a perspective that very few of us ground-dwelling humans are ever privileged enough to experience.
We hope these 5 things to do on an Amazon River tour inspire you to plan a trip of your own to the Amazon rainforest. For help booking an Amazon River cruise, feel free to contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.
By: Morgan Franklin, blog editor of eC02 Greetings.