A Walk Through the Amazon Canopy

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The Amazon Rainforest
By Christine Chan

Amazon Tree Canopy
Amazon Tree Canopy
A walk through the canopy layer of the Amazon rainforest is a dazzling experience. You climb a series of platforms and reach a walkway more than ten stories above the rainforest floor. Up there, you witness an exotic and unexplored world of insects, birds, and vegetation. A walk through the canopy is usually the highlight of an Amazon vacation. The Amazon jungle spans over two million square miles, covering more than half of Peru, as well as parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. There are dozens of eco-tourism opportunities for its exploration. Whether you have a passion in hiking, bird watching, or research or simply love the wild, there is a trip for you.

A Firsthand Account:
“Our first activity was a precarious walk along a 100 ft high tree canopy, one of only two in Peru. With sweaty palms we edged our way from treetop-to-treetop trying not to look down, although I think the object of the exercise was to look down! Back on terra firma our guide showed us a young boa constrictor unceremoniously housed in a large plastic bottle and an evil-looking tarantula peeking out from a hole in a tree, while giant butterflies wisely kept on the move. At night the coatimundis and an ocelot could be spotted roaming around the vicinity of the Lodge. In the morning we were up before sunrise and off in the canoes to Monkey Island, where, yes you guessed it, we saw some monkeys. In the evening we went cayman (a type of crocodile) hunting. This involved slowly cruising in the canoes close to the riverbank and shining a searchlight on the hapless creatures, one of which was further shocked to find himself being grabbed by the neck by our quick-footed guide and being thrust in the faces of a boatload of excited tourists! Our final trip was to Lake Sandoval set deep in the jungle, involving a canoe down the river, a rather long walk through the rainforest, then another canoe journey through a narrow mangrove” Gerry and Denise Aitken

Amazon Eco-Tourism Opportunities
An Amazon Research Expedition with the National Zoo takes young naturalists to a research station in the heart of Peru’s Amazon rainforest. The station offers exciting activities including night hiking in search of bats, braving a canopy walkway, fishing for piranha, learning about rainforest plants from a local shaman, and working with resident scientists and naturalists.

Rainforest Expeditions is a Peruvian ecotourism company devoted to providing authentic educational experiences and supporting local conservation. The majority of the seven day tour takes place at the Tambopata Research Center. The days are packed with short hikes, visits to the Macaw Clay Lick, bird watching, photography opportunities, canoeing and of course – a visit to a canopy walkway.

Grand Expeditions provides a more luxurious trip (by rainforest standards) with air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms aboard riverboats, resting in hammocks in lodges, and enjoying excellent cuisine. Highlights include exploring a blackwater lake, a boat ride to Yanamano Island to see dolphins, and three visits at different times in the day to a canopy walkway.

Tours of Exploration presents a weeklong tour at Sacha Lodge, located in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin. Rooms include hot water, private bathrooms, air conditioning, and balconies with hammocks. In addition to a canopy walk, the Lodge includes an observation tower, the Yasuni Parrot Lick, one of the largest butterfly farms in the country, and paddling canoes down the Amazon.

In addition to having a marvelous adventure, there is a practical reasons for spending your vacation in the Amazon. Eco-tourism provides an economically viable way for local inhabitants to conserve the forest. Many farmers are clear cutting the forest to raise crops or livestock. The fees that visitors pay enable them to leave the land intact, protecting a delicate and irreplaceable home for millions of species.

(Note: Fristhand account and pictures used with permission)

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