Have you ever dreamed of getting away from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life, spending time somewhere off the grid, walking around without aiming for a destination over barely trodden paths, admiring lush green trees and exotic wildflowers in full bloom, and being one with nature? If such a prospect appeals to you, then you must visit the Brazilian ecotourism rainforests at least once.
No idea what ecotourism is or how to travel to the rainforests? We are here to help you out. Brazil may not be the land of opportunity in the general sense, but it certainly is a land of tourism opportunities aplenty. While there are a number of rainforests in several parts of the world, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil is the largest one in the world. Hence, it is necessary to tour the place in an eco-friendly way.
What is Ecotourism?
As the name suggests, ecotourism is an eco-friendly form of tourism. The tourists planning to travel to any naturally occurring environmental areas are requested to leave as few marks of their visit as possible. And we don’t mean something like track marks.
Ecotourism involves preserving the environment by using sustainable transport to reach the location (ideally, by foot), utilizing basic waste disposal techniques like recycling items and carrying waste bags, and contributing to the wellbeing of the locals and the natural habitat. In essence, it aims at impacting the environment as little as possible, even improving it a bit, due to human visits.
Ecotourism is ideal for developing countries that cannot afford to allocate resources for regular clean-ups in heavily frequented natural areas. That is part of the reason why ecotourism in Brazil is exceedingly favoured by the locals, the bonus, of course, being the tourist donations that go toward contributing to a richer, more elegant environment.
Ecotourism Regions in Brazil
Brazil has a wider range of ecotourism regions as compared to many other countries, partly because it is the biggest country in South America and one of the top five largest countries in the world. Also, Brazil falls among the list of countries with the lowest population density. It means that Brazil has a pretty vast land area that remains uninhabited by humans, rife with naturally occurring flora and fauna.
The obvious region has to be the Amazon rainforest (Amazonia), the largest of its kind on the planet. Most of it is located in Brazil, but parts of it lie in nine other South American countries. The rainforest isn’t completely void of human habitat.
It is estimated that close to 30 million people reside in the Amazon. But the average population density remains 0.13 people per square kilometre. It shows how ginormous the rainforest really is.
However, it is the very vastness of the area and the high popularity of the Amazon that make it a powerful candidate to effectively regulate ecotourism. Simultaneously, the relative poverty factor of Brazil adds to the existing issues.
Thus, it is your responsibility as a tourist to maintain an eco-friendly outing to the Amazon. Don’t you want your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to experience the same, fascinating kind of nature that you did? Don’t you feel like every species of plants, animals, and human tribes should coexist in the rainforest as wonderfully as they do today, hundreds of years from now?
Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland. It has only two seasons throughout the year – wet and dry. You may visit the region during the wet season for the spectacular sights, but the overall land will be quite flooded, especially when it rains.
The dry season is the best time to visit for bird watching. When the waters evaporate, the lakes become quite shallow, enabling the birds to locate the fish better. You can often find exotic species of birds flocking together to feast on aquatic life.
Ecotourism laws in Pantanal are quite strict, mostly thanks to the more developed region of Bonito just beside it. Pantanal safaris are usually done on foot, by boat, or in a 4×4 motorhome. If you are there to admire flora and fauna of the less dangerous kind, be a good ecotourist and travel by foot or in a rowing boat. However, if you wish to see the animals that could potentially attack you, like maned wolves and jaguars, then you better be in a 4×4 motorhome, ready to make a quick exit if required!
Bonito is the finest ecotourism destination in Brazil. And as its Portuguese translation (beautiful) suggests, it is, indeed, one of the most beautiful, mesmerizing regions in the world. Once you reach the tourism area from your hotel at the municipality, we are sure that you will just keep staring at the hypnotic sights that abound. The sheer depth of Bonito’s magnificence will leave you dumbstruck for a while before you realize that you have a chance to view it up close.
Many adventure activities can be taken up at Bonito, including snorkelling and scuba diving. And the best thing is that the region’s authorities are very stringent when it comes to preserving the environment. Dedicated following ecotourism rules is the reason why the beauty of Bonito remains intact to this day.
How does Ecotourism Affect the Rainforest?
Did you know that a number of fires break out every year in the Amazon, some by accident and others solely for the purposes of logging and urbanization? Ecotourism can have a highly beneficial impact on the growing deforestation of the rainforest. Responsible, sustainable Amazon rainforest tourism can help protect the environment, and contributing to the local causes, financially as well as through active participation, can boost the development of the local communities.
Apart from leaving a low carbon footprint, it is important that you buy goods from the local people, enjoy the performances they display for your benefit, and compensate them for the same. Show that you care, and consequently, they will care more about preserving the rainforest to attract more ecotourists, rather than destroying other parts of the land.
How to Practice Responsible Tourism?
Tourists can sometimes prove to be a hazard for existing flora and fauna or human habitats in any nature-rich area. Now that you are in a wild region, you may want to try your hand at hunting. However, killing endangered wild animals for sport disturbs the food chain, eventually resulting in an exponential imbalance that could potentially affect the existence of humankind. Plus, it is illegal to slay certain rare species of mammals in the Amazon. Leave it to the locals, we say! There are many other exciting things to do in the rainforest.
Additionally, it is important to support the local economy. Purchase whatever they have to sell, even if you don’t find a need for it. They will have handicrafts and other bizarre items on offer in plenty. However, be very mindful of your purchases. Don’t buy illegal stuff like ivory statues, since elephants are an endangered species. Also, don’t forget to donate as much as you can afford to local projects that aim to preserve and enhance the environment.
Tips for Your First Visit to the Rainforest
When you think about a rainforest before actually visiting it, you often imagine a fascinating land bordering on the surreal, with trees as tall as mountains and grass as soft and lush as satin. Every direction that you look, you may dream of beholding wildflowers of a colourful variety, in perfect contrast with the amazing assortment of fruits on trees above. You may even feel like you would encounter a friendly animal or two every few yards, animals you may have only heard of in stories before.
We have no intention to discourage you from your first-time travel to the rainforest; quite the opposite! But you need to pull your dreams back to reality. Quite like any other natural environment, the Amazon is replete with insects and bugs. Wildflowers may look beautiful from afar, but a few of those may be dangerous up close. And, of course, not all fauna examples are friendly to humans.
So here are a few excellent tips that will make your very first Amazon rainforest experience more than worth the time and money spent.
Wear clothing that covers almost every part of your body, including your palms and feet.
Carry an insect repellant, and ensure that your boots are hard enough to prevent snake bites.
Fill your first-aid kit with as many antibiotics, skin creams, fever pills, and other such stuff as you can.
If you’re travelling alone without a guide, then be sure to visit the forestry department and record their phone numbers.
Admittedly, ecotourism is an expensive prospect, especially in the Amazon rainforest. It may exhaust not only your financial resources but you as well. However, look at it from the glass-half-full side of things. You get to experience the environment like a native, taste the local food in its purest forms, and admire the flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
All the while, you contribute to sustainable tourism that will help your children and grandchildren experience similar kinds of adventures that you did. Your bedtime stories will eventually come alive in their generation as well!