Earth’s largest continuous tropical rainforest, the Amazon contains more life than anywhere else. Spanning nine nations, you can take a tour in the Amazon Rainforest from a variety of places, some well known and others for the more adventurous. The main countries to access the Amazon are Peru and Brazil, which contain the highest amounts of the forest, but there are another 7 to choose from. We have selected the top tour operators for visiting this impressive forest where you will be shown the Amazon’s scenic beauty and its life within.
How impressive is the Amazon Rainforest?
The largest intact tropical wildernesses are the Amazon, the Congo in west Africa, and the rainforested landmass of New Guinea. If you combined New Guinea and the Congo rainforest, the resulting land area could fit snugly inside the Amazon Rainforest. Not only that, the Amazon contains 1/5th of the world’s freshwater, covers nearly half of South America (40%), and provides 20% of the planet’s Oxygen. This incredible forest contains 1/10th of all the species on Earth. The Amazon Rainforest is fed by the Amazon River, which is a remarkable natural feature in its own right. This is Earth’s largest river by volume and second longest after the Nile.
While you’re reading this, there is an intense struggle going on in the Amazon between people who see the rainforest as a resource to be exploited and used up for its huge amounts of timber, precious metals, meat, pets, and oil and those of us who think its existence is worth its weight in oil and timber. The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is at the moment sitting on the world’s largest untapped oil reserve. This is creating a bit of tension between our fellow humans who live inside the national park and oil prospectors constantly trying to penetrate the forest. If this is important to you, you can convince people to de-invest in oil companies who don’t play ball. If deforestation continues at current rates, the WWF estimate 55% of the Amazon Rainforest will be gone by 2030.
Size of the Amazon Rainforest
To get geographical, the Amazon Rainforest spans 2, 300, 000 square miles (6,000,000 square km) and is contained by the mountain ranges of the Guiana Highlands in the north, the Andes in the west, and then the Brazilian plateau in the south.
Although dominated by rainforest, the Amazon also contains many other vegetation types, such as seasonal, flooded and deciduous forests, as well as savannahs. This vegetation is fed by the Amazon River and occurs in the Amazon’s drainage basin
Amazon Rainforest Animals
As the world’s largest container of life, you can see many different animals in the Amazon including the famed Scarlet Macaws and Toucans, more easily seen at clay licks in the Manu or Madidi National Park or the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru and Bolivia. Tapir are the largest land mammal in the Amazon and these strange looking mammals can also be seen at the Amazon’s clay licks where they come to feed off nutrient-rich clay. As well as Tapir, the other main animals Amazon tourists like to see are the Giant River Otters and Jaguar. However, there is an incredible diversity of other animals to amaze you as you wander or canoe Amazonia with your professional Amazon guide. They will spot Sloths clinging to the branches high the trees and draw your attention to the Monkeys following you through the forest.
The Amazon River
The Amazon River is the planet’s most voluminous, with a mouth of 300 miles, which drains 500 billion cubic feet of water each day. The river and its 1000 or more tributaries contain an incredible diversity of fish as well as aquatic mammals like Manatees and River Dolphins. On the Amazon River, you will find the main bases for the Amazon Rainforest such as the port cities of Iquitos in Peru, and Manaus and Santarem in Brazil.
Amazon Rainforest Tourism
Tourism in the southern Amazon Rainforest of southern Peru and Bolivia is at its most developed whereas in the north it is still in its infancy. The small Peruvian town of Puerto Maldonado gives you access to the edge of the Madidi National Park in Bolivia, the Tambopata National Reserve close to town, and the famous Manu National Park, the most pristine national park in Peru. These areas are fantastic for clay lick to see Macaws, Toucans, Tapir, as well as Jaguar, which prey on the mammals. These areas are also a good choice to see the endangered Giant River Otters. If, however, you would like a cruise or to see the rainforest near the Amazon River itself, you can choose the forests of Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. Here you can see the abundant Monkeys and many different Amazon Birds. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and TourTheTropics!
Amazon Tours from Peru
Iquitos is the largest Peruvian city in the Amazon Rainforest and is the Amazon gateway for visits to Peruvian rainforest along the Amazon River. Iquitos is also the largest city in the world unreachable by road, which means to access Iquitos you are likely to enter the region by air. To see the breathtaking carpet of green spanning the horizon as you fly over the rainforest is a spectacle in itself. From Iquitos, you will have access to cruises along the Amazon River focusing on the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and Amazon Rainforest lodges. To fully enjoy this region, we advise choosing tours that take you far from the city (~150 km) to see the incredible diversity of animals and plants this region boasts. We have selected the best tours in the region to make sure you make the most of your visit to this fun and welcoming Amazon Rainforest gateway. Continue to Iquitos Tours >>
Cusco is the main tourist destination in Peru. Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel to Cusco each year to visit the very well marketed Machu Picchu and other archaeological sites in the region. Natural wonders are also on the list of activities, however, as Cusco provides a base to visit the Amazon Rainforest Cloud Forest in the Andean Mountain Range. Manu National Park is regarded as the most pristine protected in Peru and contains both lowland and Cloud Forest habitats containing an incredible diversity of Amazon plants and animals. You can combine both the lowland and Andean rainforest from an Amazon tour from cusco and take advantage of three excellent lodges in the region. Continue to Cusco Tours >>
A short flight from Cusco will bring you to this unassuming Amazon Rainforest gateway. As well as Cusco, the Puerto Maldonado region has access to one of the most developed tourism industries in the Amazon Rainforest. Here you can visit the Manu National Park, Madidi National Park (Bolivia) and the Tambopata National Reserve — the closest protected area to Puerto Maldonado (only 45 minutes), which contains exceptional Amazon wildlife. Puerto Maldonado is your best choice for short tours into the Amazon (~3 Days) as you can quickly get in and out. We have collected the best tours for visits to the Amazon, the majority of which have environmental certification. Continue to Puerto Maldonado Tours >>
Amazon Tours from Brazil
Manaus is the main Amazon Rainforest gateway in Brazil, where you can visit the impressive Central Amazon Ecological Corridor — a mega-reserve that incorporates several protected areas. The closest of these protected areas to Manaus is the Anavilhanas. From Manaus you can organise cruises on the Amazon River or Rio Negro, the meeting of these rivers creates one of the main short tours near the city. Manaus is a bustling industrial port boasting incredible architecture from the rubber boom period of Amazon history. Continue to Manaus Tours >>
Another Brazilian gateway to the Amazon Rainforest, Santarém is surrounded by impressive lakes fed by the Amazon River and 100 kms of attractive beaches. Like Manaus, in Santarém you can find impressive architecture and many historical buildings.
Amazon Tours from Ecuador
Sitting in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest is the Yasuni National Park occupied by various indigenous groups and to the north is the Cuyabeno Reserve. The Yasuni region contains the highest amount of life anywhere on Earth, but sits on one of the largest remaining untapped oil reserves. This places a considerable threat on the heads of many of the world’s animals and plants, but also on the indigenous population. Some communities have adopted ecotourism as a way of showing visitors the extraordinary diversity of this region and why it should be protected, as well as communicating their ongoing struggle against oil companies. Continue to Ecuador Tours >>
Amazon Tours from Colombia
Leticia is the Amazon Rainforest gateway in Colombia and is one of the safest places in the country, but we always advise checking with your country’s government for the latest news. Leticia will be a stopping point on cruises and ferries between Iquitos (Peru) and Manaus (Brazil).
Amazon Tours from Venezuela
The Amazon Rainforest in Venezeuala is mostly known for the Yanomami indigenous group, who occupy the largest tract of land of any native community. The Yanomami occur on the border between Venezuela and Brazil and have accepted tourism as a means to communicate their struggle for forest protection.
Amazon Tours from Bolivia
The Bolivian Amazon Rainforest is mostly known for the Madidi National Park, an impressive protected area containing a high diversity of Amazon wildlife. Your entry point for the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest is the town of Rurrenabaque and here you can take tours to the surrounding rainforest. Madidi had a history of misusing the power of tourism as too many tourists resulted in park degradation, a big no-no when it comes to eco-tourism. With much-improved park management and regulations, tourism is now being used to protect the forests.
Amazon Tours from Guyana
These last three countries (and parts of countries–French Guiana is actually in France) are the smallest and most neglected areas to visit the Amazon Rainforest. They are included in an area of South America known as the Guianan Shield (geological section of the South American plate) that encompasses all three nations as well as parts of Brazil, Venezeuala and Colombia. Guyana is the largest of the three nations and probably the most well known. Although, because French Guiana is part of the European Union, it isn’t as popular as a tourist destination as French Guiana and neighboring Suriname. Guyana is growing in popularity with nature lovers and is especially haled by birdwatchers worldwide.
Amazon Tours from Suriname
Tourism in Suriname remains important for the economy and is centered around the Amazon Rainforest. The largest protected area in the country is the Central Suriname Nature Reserve and is also its most popular. Suriname presents exceptional wildlife experiences with over 30% of the country protected in wildlife reserves.
Amazon Tours from French Guiana
French Guiana is the wealthiest of these three regions and contains 31, 000 square miles (8 million hectares) of tropical forest with a large fraction protected in ecological reserves.
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