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Eco-tourism in the Amazon 
 
by J.A. Luongo May 19, 2005

How to support preservation through tourism in the Amazon.

A vacation in the Amazonian rainforest and on the Amazon River can not only give you a broader perspective on the world's delicate eco-systems, but it can also help the local South American economies preserve them. Eco-tourism is one of the only ways locals generate income from the rainforest without disturbing the environment.

You care about the rainforest. You’re concerned that deforestation is causing all sorts of ecological problems, including the extinction of plants and animals, the destruction of a delicate habitat, and the world-wide change in weather patterns. Maybe your concerns are global—you’ve always been a naturalist and you believe in the power of balance in nature. Maybe your concerns are personal—you have a basement flooded with water and you wonder if this is a long-term effect of deforestation.

Consider that the Amazon is the only place on Earth untouched by the Ice Age. Hence, it contains the natural heritage of 100-million years. This increasingly diminishing natural treasure once had the power to balance the planet’s toxicity and held secrets to heal its inhabitants.

Supporting preservation through tourism may sound ridiculous, but eco-tourism carries with it the utmost respect for the environment. Tourists and tour companies are expected to leave the rainforest better than they found it. Furthermore, eco-tourist dollars support local economies, provide jobs, and encourage preservation efforts.

The Seasons of the Rainforest

The Amazon is enormous, spanning nine South American countries. However, almost 70% of the Amazon is in Brazil. The Amazon is approximately as big as the US. Hence, the weather patterns can vary greatly from one region to the next. Eastern and western Amazonia are quite rainy. So, most travelers looking for a milder, gentler Amazonian experience choose to travel to the more temperate middle Amazon.

In the middle Amazon, the days are comfortable with cool breezes on the river and temperatures ranging from the mid 80s to the low 90s. There is almost always a midday rain and sometimes even a more severe tropical storm. Despite its equatorial location, in the evenings the temperature can drop as low as 60.

Most guided eco-tours begin in Manaus, Brazil, or Iquitos, Peru. Both offer equally interesting geological wonders. The Brazilian tour showcases the convergence of two differently colored rivers that feed the Amazon and the Peruvian tour highlights the Canopy Walkway, a suspended bridge connected by tree platforms that reach heights over 115 feet off the ground.

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