Amazon River Cruise - Myth vs. Reality
| Amazon Facts
Ever since Europeans arrived on the Continent of America, the Amazon Rainforest has been the stuff of legend. Even the name 'Amazon' is derived from the Greek legends of Herodotus and Diodorus. Early Spanish explorers mistook the tribes of the South American jungle with the ancient Amazons, legendary fighting women of Asia and Africa, those stories had described.
Even today, our knowledge of Amazonia is not as extensive as most other environments on Earth, and this gives rise both to its fascinating allure, but also to misgivings amongst those people wishing to visit. The sheer size of the Amazon Basin has contributed to its mystery, as does the fact that it remains mostly unexplored to this day.
Here then is a short list of common misconceptions about Amazonia, and Rainforest Cruises' attempt to explode those myths. And, ultimately promote the wisdom of taking an Amazon River Cruise to uncover this magical place as we firmly believe sustainable tourism may play a role in saving the Amazon.
1. It's Easy To See Wildlife In Its’ Natural Environment:
Many people travel to the Amazon jungle with expectations of seeing jaguars, green anacondas and giant otter swimming around their boat. The truth is that the Amazon is a habitat, not a zoo. Animals often disguise themselves for protection from predators. Many species utilize highly specialized camouflage to stay right out of sight - google an image of a pit viper to get an idea.
In order to spot wildlife, you need to be very quiet and use each of your senses. This is one of the reasons expedition cruises are an ideal way to cruise the Amazon. Small riverboats enable travelers to access remote areas where wildlife is concentrated. When the group is small, noise is easier to control and will increase the possibility of viewing wildlife in its natural habitat. Listen to leaves rustling in the trees and you may just see a monkey.
If you’re lucky, you may see colorful birds, such as Macaws flying home to roost in the evening. River dolphins can be seen in the tributaries of Pacaya Samiria during feeding time. One must remain calm, be patient, and let the jungle come to one. The experience is not only predicated on sightings of megafauna, but taking in the beauty and magic of the ecosystem itself. And what is certain is that you will see elements of the Natural World that will never be forgotten!
2. The Amazon Is Dangerous:
How dangerous is the Amazon? While the Amazon is filled with amazing creatures such as jaguars, anacondas, and black caiman, they have little interest in human contact, and attacks on humans, particularly tourists, are rare. They prefer their natural diet. Most snakes and spiders in the Amazon are not venomous. They are afraid of humans so when they see them coming, they tend to go in the opposite direction.
Guests who visit the Amazon rarely come across dangerous animals as jungle hikes are taken on well-maintained trails. If you happen to see an animal that looks disturbed, threatened, or nervous simply inform your guide and calmly walk away. Many animals in the Amazon forest have defensive mechanisms that are only utilized when provoked, such as the poison dart frog, or the electric eel. If you are luck enough to see one, simply keep at a safe distance. Then, be sure to tell everyone about the experience, as you have been extremely lucky to see nature at its rawest!
The Amazon Region is jam-packed with interesting wildlife, understanding and respecting their world will ensure your Amazon tour runs smoothly.
3. The Amazon Is Unbearably Uncomfortable:
Some people think of the Amazon as deathly hot, humid and filled with mosquitoes. While the Amazon is indeed humid during the rain season, the dry season can offer a pleasurable climate. Yes, it's hot in the sun, but the canopy provides a comfortable shade year-round. The majority of mosquito bites can be avoided by wearing tightly-woven, light-colored, long-sleeved clothing.
Many Amazon riverboats provide air conditioned rooms with warm showers, and our luxury Amazon cruises boast amenities that many 5* hotels would envy. And while sailing along the Amazon and its tributaries, there is always a refreshing breeze to cool one down and keep insects at bay. After excursions, guests are greeted with a cool, refreshing towel and a freshly prepared drink. Between excursions, enjoy a nap in a hammock or enjoy a book in the air-conditioned library - a common feature aboard most ships.
If you are as concerned with comfort as you are with adventure, we can find the right Amazon Cruise for you.
4. It Is Only For Expeditionaries:
During the age of exploration, in the 20th Century, a trip to the Amazon was only possible at tremendous expense. Explorers would plan for months, and travel for years, to reach areas accessible now by direct flights. Times have certainly changed, and the Amazon is closer than ever. Although our vessels are 'expedition' boats, this does not mean you need to bring your pith helmet and rifle along. Travelers have a variety of activities and experiences for people wanting to visit the Amazon, most of which are family-friendly. Long gone are the days of porters carrying months of provisions while guides trail-blaze through thick brush.
While travelers should expect to get their feet wet, most of the activities are better described as 'soft adventure' and are appropriate for all ages and genders. In fact, many travelers now enjoy the Amazon with the entire family. Multi-generational travel is on the rise, and its not uncommon for a family with three or more generations to visit the Amazon, making lasting memories together.
Some additional activities aboard your Amazon expedition cruise include kayak, spa treatments, or yoga classes. While some visitors prefer to climb trees, go fishing or bush-wack through the forest, for others the Amazon can be a great place to relax and rejuvenate.
5. The Natives Are Armed With Bows And Arrows:
Some uncontacted tribes still exist in South America, and nearly all of them in the deepest parts of the Amazon, far from the regions where tourists visit. They are not aggressive, and prefer to stay away from other civilizations. The truth is that most native people in the Amazon live much like you and me. There are cities, ports, bridges and industry in many parts of the Amazon, such as the city of Manaus, where many ships embark and disembark.
The indigenous people living along the shores of the mighty Amazon have a strong appreciation for and dependence on the forest for their livelihood. While they recognize their ancestry and engage in traditional customs, they wear modern clothing, go to school and participate in business.
We believe that participating in an Amazon Cruise helps to inject much-needed revenues so that they can preserve their cultures and traditions, while giving appropriate care and opportunities to their children. Tourism is normally considered a sustainable source of economic development, that provides alternatives and much needed income to the Amazon's inhabitants.
6. The Amazon Is Like Any Other Rainforest:
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. It covers roughly 40% of the South American continent and is in part of eight countries. It is often referred to as the “capital of biodiversity” or the 'lungs of the planet' due to its incredible variety of plant and animal species. It is the ancestral home to around one million indigenous people who can be divided into around 400 tribes.
The Amazon has an abundance of cultural traditions, natural properties, medicinal uses, and animal life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is unique, and protecting the Amazon should be a world-wide priority. To date, we still have no idea how many plant and animal species exist in the forest, and new discoveries are being made by science every day.
Unfortunately, in recent years, particularly in Peru and Brazil, the Amazon has suffered from an increased number of fires, illegal deforestation, and damage from climate change. Politically, such as in the case of the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, there is a desire to exploit the region. This has only increased the damage as farmers believe they have political support to start forest fires as part of slash-and-burn agriculture. It's more important than even to recognize how unique this environment is, and take drastic steps to prevent further destruction.
The Amazon has an abundance of cultural traditions, natural properties, medicinal potential, and animal life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. To say it us unique is an understatement. We remain committed to helping preserve the rainforest, and sustainable tourism is one of the best options at our disposal. If you would like to see the options available, please browse all of our Amazon River Cruises.