About the Amazon
The Amazon basin covers nine countries. Amazonia constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. It is the largest remaining tropical rainforest, spanning 6.7 million square km. Coming a close second after the Nile as the world's longest river, the Amazon river contains approximately one sixth of all the freshwater on Earth.
Specific to Where We're Going
Western Amazonia, in the Madre de Dios region, is the most diverse area within Amazonia due to the altitudinal gradients that occur on the western side of the Andes mountains, creating diverse microclimates that give rise to unique species. We will be staying at the Posada Amazonas and Tambopata Research Center ecolodges, along the Tambopata River.
Tropical rainforests cover less than 3% of Earth's area, yet they are home to more than half our planet's terrestrial animal species. Not only do they regulate global temperatures, they also cool and regulate local micro-climates and limit the Earth's reflectivity - which in turn stabilizes ocean currents, wind, and rainfall patterns. Rainforests play a crucial role in maintaining the Earth's limited supply of fresh water and act as the Earth's lungs by sequestering carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen at large scales.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest remaining tropical forest on Earth, with the highest density of plant and animal species anywhere. It contains 25% of all terrestrial biodiversity and 10% of the entire world’s biodiversity. More than 15% of the Amazon has been deforested since the 1970s (equivalent to twice the size of California). This number continues to grow as a surge in fires since 2019 – exacerbated by climate change – burns through Amazonia’s forests. Once a certain percentage of the forest is lost, the Amazon will hit an ecological “tipping point” at which time the forests could irretrievably degrade into drylands.
Amazonia is home to around 30 million people, 9% of whom are indigenous. There are 350 indigenous ethnic groups (as depicted by the map of indigenous languages above), 60 of which remain largely isolated. Indigenous peoples manage 35% of the Earth’s intact forests, which hold more than three quarters of all global biodiversity. They are some of the Amazon’s most important protectors, and they are severely threatened by changing land rights.
Posadas Amazonas Lodge (PAL) is an innovative ecotourism joint venture between Rainforest Expeditions, a Peruvian ecotourism company, and the Infierno community who live adjacent to a national reserve. Together, they built a lodge – owned by the community – and the community set aside 25,000 acres of forest from their indigenous land for protection. Through a 20-year agreement, which has since been renewed, the two engaged in equal voting and co-investment in the development and management of the lodge. The lodge has resulted in increased and diversified incomes for the community, protection of wildlife, and motivation for long-term conservation. Posada Amazonas has become a model worldwide of integrated conservation and development.