I know that some people have the idea that a trip to the Amazon is a life-threatening experience for anybody, so they definitely would not want to bring their kids there. Well it could be dangerous if you went on your own and didn't know what you were doing. But if you go with a company that has good guides and a good program, it can be a safe and very entertaining and educational experience for kids. And kids seem to leave with a sense of pride because they leave the natural jungle feeling more connected to nature than they ever did back home in their concrete jungle.
Federal health officials have issued a travel alert about the spread of yellow fever in Brazil and say travelers need to be vaccinated before heading to affected areas. People may have to plan ahead because there is a shortage of yellow fever vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in its alert.
I am re-reading a book I had read years ago (Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice) and it got me to remembering when I was researching my first trip to the Amazon over 20 years ago. I had been reading trip reports at an office in Quito and read things like:
It was reported that the percentage of foreigners travelling to Brazil because of the country’s natural attractions and adventure tourism activities increased from 12.8% in 2014 to 15.7% in 2015.
"Brazil is lucky to have treasures such as the Amazon Rainforest, the Pantanal, the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest and over 8,000 kilometers of coastline, as well as the largest river basin in the world. With professional management and a partnership between the public and private sectors, these products can be exploited in a sustainable manner and to the benefit of local communities," says interim Tourism Minister Alberto Alves.
In a recent Portrait of American Travelers study, it was noted that 67% of American travelers now express an interest in experiencing foreign foods. That is up from 51% just 2 years ago. Millenials showed the most interest while mature travelers showed the least interest. I wonder if that is partially due to tv celebrities like Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain who travel around the world eating local food? At any rate, it seems that will eventually hurt the malls I've seen in foreign countries that have nothing but American fast food restaurants in them.
South America is definitely an area where local chefs are developing cuisines that are evolving and enticing travelers.
What are the best places to visit in Brazil? Well it depends on what your interests are. I’m not going to presume that if I pick my favorite 10 places, they will appeal to everyone. So I will let you decide.
If you are interested in big, modern cities, then there is the huge Sao Paulo, the romantic Rio, African-influenced Salvador and cities such as Curitiba, which has been called things like the "gold standard in sustainable urban planning", the “green capital”, the “greenest city on Earth”, and the “most innovative city in the world”.
Have you been trying to decide whether you should visit an amazon rain forest lodge or a cloud forest lodge or both? My friend Richard Parsons came up with these ideas. In this case he is referring to Ecuador, but it would be the same in Peru or Colombia.
Though you can read all types of lists of animals that have been spotted in certain areas over the years, wildlife is bound by no rules and does not always cooperate with hopeful viewers.
Some of the lodges in the Tambopata Reserve area combined sighting statistics from 2014 and came up with these results:
As people and businesses have encroached into what was once virgin wilderness, wildlife and local people have suffered. So several amazon conservation initiatives have been developed to try to slow down the loss of wildlife and the suffering of the indigenous population.
In Ecuador, my friend Raul Garcia has been working to help. He has started projects to help the local communities and to get them involved in helping the wildlife, as you can learn in this video.
Jim has been an agent for over 20 years and has specialized in South America for much of that time