Brazil takes up half the area of South America and is bordered by every other South American country except Chile and Ecuador. It then meets with the Atlantic Ocean in the east. Because of its incredible size, the 5th largest nation on earth, Brazil includes a diversity of biomes including savannas, tropical and subtropical forest, and wetlands.
The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest has been called the lungs of the Earth and contains the largest amount of the world’s most untouched tropical forest. Brazil contains the majority of the rainforest, around 60%, and here you can find protected areas aiming to conserve the Amazon and it’s wildlife against the continuing threats of deforestation.
The tropical north contains the largest portion of Amazon Rainforest in the states of Acre, Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Roraima, and Amapá with a smaller amount of the tropical forest stretching into the central state of Matto Grosso.
The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest is the largest section of Amazonia. From Tabatinga in the west to Belem in the east, the Brazilian Amazon is incredible. To put the Brazilian Amazon into perspective, Brazil contains 60% of the entire Amazon Rainforest with Peru holding the second highest amount of 16%. This translates to about 3, 300, 000 km of the Amazon Rainforest being contained by Brazil. Within this vast tract of forest, you can find incredible tropical rainforest life including Amazon icons, such as Jaguar, Tapir, Giant Ottters and Harpy Eagles. Many species of Amazon life are only found in Brazil, such as the Aracá uakari (Cacajao ayresi).
You can visit many different Amazon Rainforest lodges or cruise the Amazon River and take professionally guided walks into surrounding forest. Some of the Amazon base cities and towns include:
Manaus is a busy industrial port of the Amazon River and is the largest city in the rainforest. Here you can visit several Amazon lodges and cruise the Amazon River itself. To help with any confusion, the Amazon River is known in Brazil as the Rio Solimões from Manaus (the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões) east to its emergence into the Atlantic Ocean just above Belem.
The Anavilhanas or the Parque Nacional de Anavilhanas is a protected area near Manaus concentrated around the Amazon River and its banks. The Anavilhanas covers hundreds of Amazonian islands over an area of 100, 000 hectares as well as 260, 000 hectares of riverside forest.
Jau National Park
Jau National Park is the largest national park in the Amazon region and is a protected area of tropical forest within the Rio Negro watershed. Jau National Park also protects the entire 1,000,000 ha watershed of the Jaú River. With a park of this size (2,272,000 hectares), the wildlife protected is incredible including many emergent trees, endemic and threatened species, and keystone animals. The park provides habitat for the Amazon’s top predators, such as Harpy Eagle, Jaguar and Mountain Lion as well as Giant Amazon Otters and Manatees.
Santarém is a lesser known Amazon Rainforest gateway than its larger neighbours of Manaus and Belem, but offers a unique look at a variety of lakes formed near the city. As with many Amazon cities and towns, before European colonisation the area was inhabited by an indigenous community. The community here were known as the Tapajós, where the Rio Tapajós and the protected area accessible from the city got their names.
Santarém provides access to some beautiful ‘Aquarium Lakes’ where you can see many tropical fish in their natural habitat. These lakes surround Santarém due to geographical features, as well as the Tapajós River, which emerges just west of the city and combines with the Amazon River. This merger of a creamy brown Rio Amazonas and a darker Rio Tapajós means Santarém has its own meeting of the waters, a phrase more famously known in Manaus due to the merger of the Rio Amazonas and Rio Negro.
Floresta Nacional do Tapajós
To the south west of Santarém, along the Rio Tapajós, is the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós protected area where you can hike, canoe and stay for a few days to sample the Amazon and its wildlife. The Floresta Nacional do Tapajós is an example of community governed forest, which is separated in different uses, such as regeneration, sustainable harvesting (non-logging), total preservation, and logging research.
The world’s largest continuous freshwater wetland (54,000 miles² | 140,000 km²), the Pantanal is home to incredible wildlife opportunities and ranks highly for ability to see some of tropical South America’s sort after nature sightings, such as Anaconda and Jaguar, which are often too elusive and difficult to spot in the rainforest. The Pantanal stretches across Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso states, also extending into Paraguay and Bolivia.
The Cerrado is a savanna-like environment that experiences a humid climate and an intense dry period. Many interesting animals are found here, such as Maned Wolves, Hyacinth Macaws and a unique population of tool-using Capuchin Monkeys. In addition to the animals, 44% of the plant life in the Cerrado is found nowhere else on Earth. The Cerrado is Brazil’s second largest habitat after the Amazon Rainforest mentioned above.
One of the most threatened tropical forests on Earth, the Atlantic Forest is composed of tropical and subtropical habitats and extends down the Atlantic coast of Brazil. Very little of the original forest cover remains, but there is an extraordinary effort among businesses and NGOs to restore the area. Although severely deforested, around 50% of its animals and plants are only found in this forest making restoration and conservation a significant priority.
Cities of Interest
The main cities to base yourself for a Brazilian adventure are:
- Brasilia | Brazil’s Capital, Culture and Itiquira Falls
- Rio de Janeiro | Culture, Carnaval, Atlantic Forest gateway
- Sao Paulo | Culture, Atlantic Forest gateway
- Foz do Iguaçu | Iguaçu Falls
- Salvador | Culture, History, Gastronomy, Atlantic Forest Gateway
- Manaus | Amazon Rainforest Gateway
- Santarem | Amazon Rainforest Gateway
- Cuiaba | Pantanal Wetlands Gateway
|Currency used||Brazilian Real|