The Pleasures and the Pains of the Amazon Rainforest

When you ask a traveler where in the world they’d like go next, they could tell you it is a single country — Australia, China, South Africa. Or perhaps a great geographical feature — the Grand Canyon, the Himalaya, or the Adriatic Sea. Or it could be an entire region of the world — the South Pacific, Antarctica, the Spice Road through India, the Trans-Siberian Railway. Fortunately for hearty travelers like myself, there are some places that feed all of those fancies in one jaunt: a country (Peru); a geographical feature (rainforest); and a region that crosses nine nations (The Amazon Rainforest.)

The Amazon River in Peru

Sunset above the Amazon River in Peru

The Peruvian Amazon — it is not a place that everyone could, or would want to, experience. It is difficult to get to, but not impossible. It is rugged and raw, but beautiful. And like many of the greatest places to travel to, it has its pleasures and its pains.

The pleasures: The romance of this place is palpable. The endless jungle that weaves through the sweltering, sticky and precipitous air is flooded with bizarre creatures and dancing birds, banana plants, impeccable coffee beans, and waterfalls that fall into a mighty river. The songs of the birds fill the air with the most diverse arrangement of benevolent sounds — at times I felt as though the soundtrack of a Disney movie was being cast down from the sky.  Exotic flowers peek through airy translucent mosquito nets that dress any establishment that you enter, the fragrance of those flowers unmatched.  It is quite far removed from basic civilization… These are some of the pleasures.

The pains: It is the most unromantic place on Earth. I love bugs, I love dirt, but flesh eating fish? Beneath that mighty river of murky brown water swims the mighty piranhas — ready to bite off the hand of any traveler crossing by boat, daydreaming while dangling her hand into the water. SNAP! Alligators sun on the hillside, completely camouflaged except for their darting eyes. CHOMP! Misquotes with malaria nipping at your mosquito nets; tarantulas crawling up the trees at twilight ready to jump; termite mines bruised among tree trunks; suspension bridges strung from trees, violently wobbling any time even the smallest bird lands upon it. Large rodents that look like giant rats wander the grounds. It’s one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth; one of the most lively, and if you are like me — there is a disaster awaiting at every turn. It’s all terribly romantic and of course, in either form of imagination, I am dying to go back.

Recommended Reading About the Amazon Rainforest:


Ed Stafford’s tale of his journey through the Amazon—a former soldier who became the first person to walk the length of the Amazon (The Guardian)

Fastest to the Atlantic Wins (Outside Magazine)

Last of the Amazon (National Geographic)

Adventure Stories: Helen Skelton’s Solo Kayaking Journey Down the Length of the Amazon


Cloud Forest by Peter Matthiessen

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins

State of Wondeer by Ann Patchett

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm

Running the Amazon by Joe Kane


Where I stayed:

Reserva Amazónica (Inkaterra) authentic nature travel since 1975





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Categories: Adventure + Exploration, Americas, Cities & Countries, Galleries, Stories, Where to Travel

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