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Amazon River

13 Apr, 2009

The Great Amazon River

Amazon River

If the Amazon Rainforest is the world’s forest, then the Amazon River is no doubt the world’s river. Of course, this does not mean to imply that everyone else has the right to the Amazon River, since the Amazon River is within the territory of seven South American countries. However, with its size and its significance in the general balance of the ecosystem, the Amazon River is so important that it surely belongs to the world.

As everyone knows, the Amazon River is the world’s largest river if measured by volume. Although not the longest and not the biggest river (although it certainly comes close), the Amazon River holds more than one fifth of the total river flow of the world. In fact, even if the eight largest rivers in the world are combined, it still cannot surpass the river flow of the Amazon River. This makes the Amazon River the world’s largest drainage basin. And even in terms of length, experts are still in disagreement if the Amazon is or is not the longest river in the world. The Nile River located in a number of countries (most prominently Egypt, along it is also within the territory of countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Rwanda, and others) was considered to be the longest river in the world, but new evidences and studies point out that the Amazon River is at least longer than the Nile by 100km. The Nile is currently measured at 6,650 km, while the Amazon at 6,400 km—although this could change in the near future as more conclusive research determines the exact length of both rivers.

But the Amazon River is not just prominent because of its size—although that certainly helps its reputation. As with the Amazon Rainforest, the Amazon River is full of natural wonders and hidden treasures. For one, since it is in the territory of more than one country, this means the river is composed of different parts influenced by many different cultures. Of course, it should be noted that the Amazon River is mostly within the territory of South America. Nonetheless, these countries (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, Ecuador, and Venezuela) offer individual attractions—and, more importantly, cultures and environments that make the Amazon River a diverse natural attraction.

And then, of course, one should travel to the Amazon River to see its amazing, diverse, and unique flora and fauna. Again, very much like the Amazon Rainforest (which the river is part of), the world’s largest drainage basin is a sanctuary for a number of plant and animal species. Many call the Amazon River the place of extremes—here, one can find the most sincere and most picturesque locations, although it also houses some of the most unusual (and maybe even bizarre) animals. Not the very least of these extreme animals is the piranha, which some tourists even fish for during their travel for fun.

In any case, the Amazon River, bar none, is among the world’s greatest rivers. No other river can surpass its beauty and very few can equal its significance.

Life

The Amazon River and the surrounding areas are home to a number of famed and endangered animals. Of course, it is known that more than one third of all the known species on earth exist within the Amazon Rainforest, and surely most of them depend on the Amazon River, making the river a huge part of the ecosystem of the world’s biggest rainforest. The Amazon River itself is said to be home to be more 3,000 species of marine life, although this number is said to be growing constantly. Some estimates reach as high as 5,000 species. Surely, this proves how important the Amazon River is, and how wonderful a sight it would be.

Among the two more popular species that exist in the Amazon River are the piranhas and the anacondas. The piranha is the infamous fish that eat meat, although only a few piranha species eat human flesh. Some of the more adventurous travels engage in piranha-fishing, a somewhat dangerous but also somewhat exciting activity. Piranhas do not school unlike most fishes, making them harder to catch—hence making the while activity more thrilling. The anaconda, on the other hand, is among the world’s biggest snake species, also infamous thanks to the movie of the same name. Anacondas are non-venomous, although their size can prove to be a threat just the same.

Meanwhile, some of the lesser known species that live in the Amazon River include the Boto and the Manatee. The Boto is more known as the Amazon River Dolphin. They are endemic to the Amazon as well as two other rivers, making them very rare. The Amazon River Dolphin is also the largest river dolphin. There is actually a myth surrounding the Boto, saying that it actually turns into a handsome young man at night to seduce girls. This myth (including an encantado or an enchanted one) isn’t particularly unique to the Amazon, but it gives depth to the culture of the area. The manatee is also common in the Amazon River. This creature is a marine mammal, usually called the sea cow due to its appearance. The Amazon River also serves as the home to some of the world’s more common marine creatures, although their size is often different within the Amazon. It seems as if the unadulterated environment of the Amazon gives creatures the opportunity to grow.

Manaus

Of course, a tourist simply cannot go to the Amazon River directly. To travel the river, one has to pass through a number of cities or towns that will serve as the starting point of their tours. One of these cities is the city of Manaus in Brazil. Founded in 1669, the term “Manaus” means “mother of the gods.” Besides the Amazon River, the Black River and the Solimoes River also pass through this city. Unlike other cities in Brazil, Manaus is also home to a number of green areas which is part of the Amazon—namely the Mindu Park, the Park of Bilhares, and the Alexio. All these parks and green areas were established fairly recently—the oldest is Mindu, which was created in 1989—although they are nonetheless popular among tourists and visitors since it offers a convenient view of the Amazon within the safety of the city. The Mindu Park, for instance, is among the most visited parks in the Amazon area. Tourists who plan to travel the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest often stay at Manaus since it is perhaps one of the more urbanized cities in Brazil that is within very close distance of the Amazon. Tourists can find boat tours and extensive guides to the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest within the city.

Besides going to the Amazon, Manaus itself boasts of a number of unique and interesting tourist destinations. In fact, a quick online search online would prove that searches about the Amazon River would also yield results about Manaus. This is because the city is famed for being the natural stopover or settlement for people who plan to travel the Amazon River. This isn’t too surprising, since Manaus is in itself an attraction that boasts of stellar tourist destinations. The Amazon, after all, may be the settlement of a number of tribes, which means the Amazon is the arbiter of lost and neglected cultures. But it is not everyday that people will be able to see this up close. Therefore, visiting Manaus is the closing one can get to enjoying and soaking in this culture, this way of life that is so connected to the rest of the world but can also be disconnected to the busy life of the city.

In terms of flora and fauna, Manaus is home to the Pied tamarin, a primate that is considered to be among the most endangered in the world. Meanwhile, for those who prefer to enjoy their stay in the city enjoying the waters and the sun, there’s the Ponta Negra beach, a popular travel destination not only for the beach but also because of its very active nightlife. This isn’t surprising, since the Ponta Negra is among the better known beaches in Brazil. Although part of its green area is already “bald” (perhaps due to the fast industrialization of the place), the Ponta Negra is still an interesting location, even if side by side the more prominent and definitely more overwhelming Amazon River. Meanwhile, in terms of cultural and architecture sites, there’s the Teatro Amazonas. Built in the 1890s, this opera house is landmark in the city because it shows the wealth of the city and its prominence in the country, at least during that time.

But Manaus is significant because of the Meeting of the Rivers or Meeting of Waters. This is where the Rio Negro (named after its black-colored water) and the Amazon River meet. Strangely enough, for around six kilometers, the black water of the Rio Negro and the sandy-color water of the Amazon River run side by side on this area, yet they do not mix, making the two rivers distinguishable even though they converge. This proximity to the great Amazon River made Manaus popular among travelers, and significant to Brazil. Obviously, the Meeting of Waters is a popular Manaus tourist destination.

Tours

Of course, people do not go to the Amazon area to travel and explore cities. The best way to enjoy the Amazon River is to go to cruises or guided tours to see the very core of this natural wonder. Just like the whole expanse of the Amazon Rainforest, the Amazon River does not have any infrastructures or any type of facilities for tourists or visitors. This makes the travel the Amazon River a bit of an inconvenience, especially if one wants to go to the area without any sort of assistance. However, the tours and the cruises allow the tourists and the travelers to have a close up view of the Amazon River without having to worry about the whole process. After all, there is no particular area in the Amazon River that one should see—the river in itself is a magnificent attraction, something that avid travelers should at least see once.

A number of websites online suggest a number of activities for people who plan to travel to the Amazon River. These activities range from the dangerous and ill-advised (such as piranha-fishing) to safer and more relaxed (such as watching a number of rare animals and species). In any case, regardless of the activity one plans to pursue in the Amazon, it is best to avail of tour or cruise services. Some cruises even provide accommodations to tourists. These accommodations are very near the Amazon River, so it provides a scenic view of this majestic and great natural wonder.

One can say that seeing the Amazon River is like seeing nature at its finest. After all, one will never get to see something as unadulterated and as undisturbed as the Amazon River. Most of the forests within the area of the river are virgin forests, unexplored by humans. The rover may have already changed from its original form due to a number of factors, but the changes are mostly due to nature rather than to man. The governments of the countries where the river lies are doing their best to maintain the Amazon River, as the Amazon Rainforest.

No one can deny the greatness and the significance of the Amazon River. It holds the world’s lungs, giving many of the species (including the tribes within the forest) in the Amazon Rainforest a way to sustain themselves. The Amazon River and its surrounding areas also serve as the home to a number of species, most of them endangered. Without a doubt, the Amazon River deserves to be called the world’s greatest river. Its length may be disputed, but its prominence and importance are sure enough reasons to call it one of the most important natural wonders in the world.

Amazon River

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