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Home > Peru Itineraries > Rainforest Tours > Rainforest > Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is a vast region that spans the border of eight rapidly developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.
The landscape contains:
* One in ten known species on Earth
* 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planets remaining tropical forests
* 4,100 miles of winding rivers
* 2.6 million square miles, about 40 percent of South America, in the Amazon Basin

Reflecting environmental conditions as well as past human influence, the Amazon is made up of a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including rainforests, seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas. The basin is drained by the Amazon River, the world's largest river in terms of discharge, and the second longest river in the world after the Nile. The river is made up of over 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are longer than 1000 miles, and two of which (the Negro and the Madeira in Brazil) are larger, in terms of volume, than the Congo (formerly the Zaire) river. The river system is the lifeline of the forest and its history plays an important part in the development of its rainforests.
The Amazon Rainforest covers every corner east of the Andes, from the Equator to the southern borders with Brazil and Bolivia. Peru's Amazon Rainforest sustains the World's richest biodiversity, in particular within the Manu, Pacaya Samiria, and Tambopata natural sanctuaries.

THE AMAZON RIVER TODAY
Today the Amazon River is the MOST voluminous river on Earth, eleven times the volume of the Mississippi, and drains an area equivalent in size to the United States. During The high water season, the river's mouth may be 300 miles wide and every day up to 500 billion cubic feet of water (5,787,037 cubic feet / sec) flow Into the Atlantic. For reference, the Amazon's daily freshwater discharge Into the Atlantic is enough to supply New York City's freshwater Needs for nine years. The force of the current - from sheer water volume alone - you cause Amazon River water to continue flowing 125 miles out to sea Before mixing with Atlantic salt water. Early sailors Could drink freshwater out of the ocean Before sighting the South American continent.

The river current tons of suspended sediment Carries all the way from the Andes and Gives the river a characteristic muddy whitewater appearance. It is Calculated 106 million cubic feet That of suspended sediment are swept Into the ocean Each Day. The result from the silt at the mouth of Deposited Amazon is Majaro the island, a river island about the size of Switzerland.



How large is the Amazon rainforest?
In Brazil, the Amazon covers surface area of 4,100,000 square kilometers (1,583,000 square miles), of which around 3.4 million sq km (1.3 million sq mi) are presently forested. Accounting for parts of the Amazon outside of Brazil, the total extent of the Amazon is estimated at 8,235,430 sq km (3,179,715 sq mi). or comparison, the land area of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 9,629,091 square kilometers (3,717,811).
In total, the Amazon River drains about 6,915,000 square kilometers (2,722,000 square miles), or roughly 40 percent of South America.

Area: Seven million square kilometres spread in 9 South American nations: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname, and French Guiana. It's the largest rainforest on Earth, as large as Western Europe or the whole of the US. It covers around 40% of the South American continent.

Ecosystem: The Amazon Rainforest accounts for more than half of the planet's remaining tropical forests, and it is thought to be the most diverse ecosystem on Earth: more than 1/3 of all species in the world live here. It has the world's highest diversity of birds (some 1.300 species) and freshwater fish (3.000 species), as well as 10% of Earth's mammals (more than 400 species) and 15% of land-based plant species, with as many as 300 species of tree in a single hectare.

The Amazon River is the largest river on Earth in terms of watershed area, number of tributaries and volume of water discharged. Its water volume accounts for approximately 1/5 of the World's total river flow; larger, indeed, than the combined flow of the next top ten largest rivers flowing into the ocean.
There is not complete agreement regarding the length of the Amazon river, as measurements vary according to methodology. Its length, though, lies anywhere between 6,259 km (3,889 miles) and 6,800 km (4,225 miles). It has over 1,000 tributaries, 8 of which are over 2,000 kilometres.
The source of the Amazon river, according to a National Geographic Society expedition, is to be found in a slope of Nevado Mismi --a 18,363-foot-high (5,597-meter) mountain in the southern Peruvian Andes. The river though is not formally known as Amazon until the confluence of two of its main tributaries, the Ucayali river and the Maran river.

RAINFOREST ECOLOGY
Tropical rainforests across the world are highly diverse, but share several defining characteristics including climate, precipitation, canopy structure, complex symbiotic relationships, and diversity of species. Every rainforest does not necessarily conform to these characteristics and most tropical rainforests do not have clear boundaries, but may blend with adjoining mangrove forest, moist forest, montane forest, or tropical deciduous forest.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Tropical rainforests lie in the "tropics", between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. In this region sunlight strikes Earth at roughly a 90-degree angle resulting in intense solar energy (solar energy diminishes as you move farther north or south). This intensity is due to the consistent day length on the equator: 12 hours a day, 365 days per year (regions away from the equator have days of varying length). This consistent sunlight provides the essential energy necessary to power the forest via photosynthesis.
Because of the ample solar energy, tropical rainforests are usually warm year round with temperatures from about 72-93F (22-34C),.JPG although forests at higher elevations, especially cloud forests, may be significantly cooler. The temperature may fluctuate during the year, but in some equatorial forests the average may vary as little as 0.5F (0.3C) throughout the year. Temperatures are generally moderated by cloud cover and high humidity.

AMAZON RAINFOREST PERU
Over the last 20 years the practice of eco-tourism has developed throughout Peru. If the money that it generates is used responsibly and pumped back into local economies and conservation projects this form of managed tourism may well prove to be one of the few counter-destructive economic forces available in preserving the jungle. As more people visit the jungle and learn about its flora and fauna more people will become involved in the race to save them. Local people and governments will also see that the long term value of the rainforest may be worth more if the rainforest remains intact.
Peru currently has roughly 5 percent of its territory protected by a system of around 50 national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and other designated areas, a process which has developed extremely well since it was begun in the 1960s. Two of these protected areas, the Manu Biosphere Reserve and the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, can be found in Peru's southern jungle while the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve can be found in the northern jungle and accessed from Iquitos.

The Southern Jungle

Manu Biosphere Reserve
No other park in the world can equal Manu for species richness. Over 1000 birds have been identified, 15000 plants and 13 species of monkey as well as millions of insects. In Manu there are healthy populations of jaguar, tapir, black caiman and the giant otter. These animals have not been subjected to widespread hunting as they have in many other jungle areas and are therefore less fearful of humans, increasing the possibility of actually catching a glimpse of them. Access to the Manu Biosphere Reserve is from Cusco, traveling with one of the recognized Manu Agencies.
Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone
A number of jungle lodges in the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone offer an excellent alternative for those travelers who don't have the time or money to visit Manu. This giant reserved zone contains some of the richest rainforest in the world and includes the entire watershed of the Rio Tambopata which is currently at the forefront of tropical rainforest conservation. Access is from Puerto Maldonado ( half an hours' flight from Cusco)

The Northern Jungle

Iquitos
Iquitos is the northern gateway to the Peruvian Amazon basin. Most tour operators offer trips of at least 2 days, a blend of jungle lodge, camping, and jungle trekking. The protected Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve is located 120km by river from Iquitos and is not usually visited by organized tours although some local tourist agencies can help you with making travel arrangements. Notable wildlife found in the Reserve includes the paiche fish which, weighing as much as 300kg and measuring up to 3m long, is the world's largest freshwater fish. Pink dolphin, giant river turtles, the manatee, black caiman, giant otters, black spider monkeys, common wooly monkeys and many species of Amazon birds can also be observed.

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