The Peruvian Amazon

Six common misconceptions about the Amazon

By Danielle Krautmann

It is hard to separate fact from myth when it comes to the Amazon; Danielle Krautmann sets you straight.

Six common misconceptions about the Amazon

A clay lick in Tambopata (Photo: Brian Ralphs/Wikimedia Commons)

  1. It\‘s easy to see animals in their natural environment: Many people travel to Tambopata with expectations of seeing jaguars, anacondas and giant otter swimming around their boat. The truth is that the Amazon is a habitat, not a zoo. Animals often disguise themselves for protection from predators. In order to spot wildlife, you need to be very quiet and use each of your senses. The scent of a peccary might be what leads you to a pack of them. Listen to leaves rustling in the tress and you may just see a monkey. If you’re lucky you may see some colorful birds, such as Macaws eating clay along the bank of the Tambopata River.
  2. The Amazon is dangerous: While the Amazon is filled with amazing creatures such as jaguars, anacondas, and caiman, they have little interest in human contact. They prefer their natural diet. Most snakes and spiders in the Amazon are not venomous. They are afraid of humans so when they see them coming, they go in the opposite direction. Guests who visit the Amazon rarely encounter dangerous animals because they stay on well maintained trails.
  3. The Amazon is unbearably uncomfortable: Some people think of the Amazon as deathly hot, humid and filled with mosquitos. While the Amazon is indeed humid during the rain season, the dry season can offer a pleasurable climate. Yes, it\‘s hot in the sun, but the canopy provides a comfortable shade year-round. The majority of mosquito bites can be avoided by wearing tightly-woven long-sleeved clothing.
  4. It is only for expeditionaries: Tambopata, Peru offers a variety of activities and experiences for people wanting to visit the Amazon. While some lodges offer adventure tours, most have well-maintained trails for mild jungle walks. Many accommodations provide a hammock and have yoga classes and spa activities such as massages or facials. While some visitors prefer to climb trees, kayak or bush-wack through the forest, for others the Amazon can be a great place to relax and rejuvenate.
  5. The natives are armed with bows and arrows: Some uncontacted tribes still exist in the Amazon. They are not aggressive and prefer to stay away from other civilizations. However most native people in the Amazon live much like you and me. The indigenous people in Tambopata have a strong appreciation for and dependence on the forest for their livelihood. While they recognize their ancestry and engage in traditional customs, they wear modern clothing, go to school and participate in business.
  6. The Amazon is like any other rainforest: The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. It covers roughly 40% of the South American continent and is in part of eight countries. It is often referred to as the “capital of biodiversity” due to its incredible variety of plant and animal species. It is the ancestral home to around one million indigenous people who can be divided into around 400 tribes. The Amazon has an abundance of cultural traditions, natural properties, medicinal uses, and animal life than cannot be found anywhere else in the world.