Every traveler has fantasized about a trip to the Amazon. Just the name evokes images of dense rain forest, indigenous tribes, and abundant wildlife.
The numbers are certainly mind-boggling: the Amazon basin is twice the size of India, and spans eight countries. At its height, the river can measure 40km across and dump 300 million liters of fresh water into the ocean per second. That’s more than the next eight largest rivers combined.
Yet many travelers leave the Amazon underwhelmed, having come expecting a Discovery channel–like encounter with jaguars, anaconda and spear-toting Indians. That simply doesn’t happen – surprise, surprise – much less on the schedule or budget of most travelers.
The Amazon’s quintessential experiences are more sublime than they are superlative: canoeing through a flooded forest, dozing in a hammock on a boat chugging upriver, waking up in the jungle to the call of a thousand birds or the otherworldly cry of howler monkeys.
It’s only in the halogen glare of unreasonable expectations (or too short a visit) that a trip to the Amazon will feel disappointing. The river itself is massive and unrelenting, as much a living thing as the plants and animals that depend on it. Wildlife is hard to see, but that much more special when you do; the rain forest is everywhere and awesome. Indigenous tribes are extremely reclusive, but the Caboclo (mixed Indian and European) communities that populate the riverbanks are vital and compelling.
On a river whose size is legendary, it’s actually the little things that make it special. Give it some time, forget your expectations, and the Amazon cannot fail to impress.