Welcome to the Jungle – Exploring the Amazon Rainforest

I can recall that period in the late 90s when saving the rainforest was one of the major charitable causes. It was popular among celebrities and the growing climate concerned populous. 
Not that it is no longer as worthy a cause, but recent studies have shown that the Amazon rainforest’s regrowth is increasing rapidly, and that is important for capturing carbon in the atmosphere. 

The UN has aims of halving global deforestation by 2020, and halting it altogether by 2030. 

Upon entering the Amazon rainforest last week though, I was immediately struck by the size of it. I had already anticipated to be awestruck by its scale, having entered it in Ecuador and not in the popular Brazilian route. 

But to see hundreds of miles of rainforest stretching out in front of you, there was a tiny thought that couldn’t believe this majestic sight was in danger of being eradicated. 

The ecological importance of rainforests the world over are now widely documented and respected. Indeed it seems they are an integral part of our fight to reduce the carbon dioxide present in our atmosphere.

But on a more humble note the rainforest simply provides shelter for millions of animals as well as humans. 

I was staying with a local shaman and his adopted family near the entrance to the Amazon, already in deep thick forest. 

On a morning walk we were given an initiation ceremony into jungle life, like many communities would do based on ancient principles and traditions. 

On my face was painted the ancient symbol meaning monkey or “jungle boy”, apparently down to my active attributes (I’ll happily take that). 

Without being too deep in the jungle it was still part of the experience to see spiders slightly too large for comfort and frogs that looked like they had been dabbed with radioactive paint.

The sounds of the Amazon river flowing in the distance and the rainforest chorus of animals provided a soothing soundtrack after a day of exploring. Just like those “sounds of the rainforest CDs” but in real life, obviously.

It’s no coincidence to my mind that communities that are far away from large clusters of civilisation live such peaceful lives. Although this is not always the case, it helps refresh the perspective of one who is used to constant distractions such as TV, the Internet, and constant money concerns.

So too does it help having vegetation around you that is beneficial to leading a long and healthy life. Either that or it could kill you. If you like a dangerous gamble go to the rainforest, pick a leaf off a tree and eat it. (*This is not serious advice). 

On a nature walk the shaman explained what he uses various plants for and how they regrow, showing the ultimate way of living off the earth. He also showed how he hunted monkeys with a homemade two-metre long dart gun. Probably not a sport that will take off around the world. 

While clambering up waterfalls to delve deeper into the enigmatic jungle, I found myself startled at just how colourful the surroundings were. I’ve seen some amazing landscapes before, but here it was as if someone had turned up the saturation on real life. 

Like a living art gallery, the rainforest didn’t intimidate; it invigorated. Before you ask this was not due to drinking some of the special Ayahuasca tea which is said to induce hallucinations and even death omens. 

Fortunately I was not deep enough to ever feel the fear of a venomous frog or snake or puma lurking behind me. Though admittedly that would have been exciting…

What I did feel though was a sense of wonderment and great affinity for Mother Earth. 

I also felt a pang of familiarity when the rain started and didn’t stop, flooding the rivers and enriching the ground. At least England and the Amazon have something in common. Rainforest – clue is in the name, I suppose…


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