Traveling up the far reaches of the world's mightiest river offers superb views of forests stretching to the horizon, magnificent sunsets, and (to me, at least) the most delicious fresh air on the planet. But the real fun begins as we explore the details of this fascinating ecosystem and get to know the people who call this water-woven land home.
How does one adequately convey the kaleidoscopic variation on every theme of living thing found in this richest of tropical jungles? We'll see dozens of parrot species and other birdlife that defies imagination: tanagers, toucans, honey creepers, flycatchers, herons, caciques, barbets, egrets, jacamars, and tinamo, to name just a few (literally!). Far greater in variety than the birds are the fish – we'll even try our hand at catching piranhas! Our time spent together will investigate the engines that power this system – the myriad plants and invertebrates upon which all other life depends.
Although I've traveled the river many times as a Smithsonian Study Leader, my 'day job' is as a biologist in the Amazonia department of the National Zoo. There, we study and care for a few hundred Amazonian species of plants and animals – yet our collection is a fraction of what we see on any given day during the Amazon Voyage.