South America Tourist Guide
A guide to travel and holidays in South America
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Amazon River

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world by all measures and is the world’s most diverse biological area.
The Amazon basin covers 40 percent of South America and has an area of approximately 6,915,000 square kilometers (2,670,000 sq mi). A fifth of the total volume of fresh water entering the oceans worldwide comes from the Amazon River. Offshore of the mouth of the Amazon, portable water can be drawn from the ocean while still out of sight of the coastline. The main river is navigable for large ocean steamers to Manaus, 1,500 kilometers upriver from the mouth. Smaller ocean vessels can reach as far as Iquitos, Peru, 3,600 kilometers from the sea, while smaller riverboats can reach 780 kilometers higher up the river.

More than a third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest, a giant tropical forest and river basin, and among the richest tropical forests in the world, and is the world's most diverse biological area. The Amazon River has over 3,000 recognized species of fish and that number is still growing. The Amazon Rainforest encompasses most of northern Brazil, parts of northern Bolivia, eastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, southeastern Colombia, southern Venezuela, southern Guyana, southern Suriname and southern French Guiana.

When planning a trip to the Amazon Rainforest there is an overwhelming wealth of options to choose from. A good starting point is the internet where you can get an idea of what the options are; also to consult travel agents is worthwhile. Pre-booking the tour either from home or from a large city in the region is the best way to go, if you plan to turn up and find someone who can guide you, you may be disappointed. When planning the trip, remember to look into the need for vaccinations and any tablet, like malaria you need to take.

Brazil is a good starting point for your search as the bulk of the rainforest lies within its boundaries. Manaus is the main hub for the Amazonas region in the north of Brazil, and is unique for a city of its size, in that road access is very limited. It relies much more on air travel and the vast network of rivers in the area. Nearly all visitors would fly in here for the start of their Amazon adventure, and continue their journey by boat. As one would expect, Manaus has a good choice of hotels and accommodation in most price levels.

In Peru there are two main starting points for tours of the rainforest. In the northeast there is Iquitos and in the southeastern area there is the Madre de Dios region, with the main areas there being the Manu Biosphere and the Tambopata Nature Reserve. Both areas have well served airports.

In general Bolivia offers exceptional experiences for the traveler who prefers things off-the-beaten track and is prepared to take rough with the smooth. The number of visitors venturing the Amazon Rainforest from Bolivia is much less than those in neighboring Brazil and Peru. The Madidi National Park is where the people that choose Bolivia as a starting point, tend to go.

Whilst Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America, it still offers a stunning range of diversity from its dry coastal region, up over the towering Andes and volcanoes down to the Amazon region, that occupies the eastern area of the country. The Yasuni Biosphere Reserve and National Park on the Napo Province is a protected area of primary forest, and a particular good place to head for. There is a good level of eco-friendly accommodation and plenty of reliable companies in the area.

The five remaining countries with parts of the Amazon Rainforest are Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. For Colombia the best thing to do is to fly to Leticia, and from there you can organize all the tours you would like to do. Some of the Amazon regions are not always safe, so check up to date travel information before you head anywhere. Venezuela's Amazon region occupies the south of the country, with Puerto Ayacucho being the gateway to the region. The area is also good for observing some traditional Amazonian tribes. Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana are all dominated by tropical rainforest. The rainforest in these regions is certainly off the beaten track with some areas near inaccessible. Although jungle tours here are not as developed as somewhere like Manaus, there are an increasing number of tour agencies in these countries.

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