August 2011 - The Amazon

Loren has been doing her field work the Amazon river basin this summer. We decided to give her a good excuse to take a mini vacation by having me show up in the middle. The Amazon is generally difficult to capture in pictures and is better experienced in person. But, here's my attempt anyway.
Sunrise over the Amazon River near Santarem from the plane. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation, sunrise, airplane, river, amazon  Loren enjoys her freshly opened coconut. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Pascal in Santarem trying to keep his eyes open. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Some colorful tropical bird. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
It's mind-boggling to me that the Amazon is navigable by ships, such as the one pictured, for over 4,000 miles inland from the Atlantic (all the way into the Peruvian Amazon). : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Streets of Santarem. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Streets of Santarem. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  What do you see?  Almost nothing?  Exactly!  This is how much light you see looking north from Santarem. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Loren climbs the stairs up to an old fort that provided a great view of the river(s). : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Oldish building in Santarem. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  The outside seen from inside a museum in Santarem. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Scenes from a Santarem museum. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Loren peruses the exhibit on the whale skeleton.  One of these whales made it 600 km up the Amazon to Santarem from the Atlantic a few years ago before beaching itself. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Notice the barge in the background.  Wow. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Taking the bus from Santarem to Alter de Chão was cheap.  It got a lot more crowded than this within a few stops. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation, crowd, bus  Alter de Chão is well-known within Brazil for its white sand beaches and clear blue water.  Sometimes, it's referred to as the "Caribbean of the Amazon".  The water was high at this time of year because it is the end of the wet season, but later in the year, most of this water is gone and a ton of white sand is exposed. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Loren on the beach! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Beach. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  It turns out that hanging out with Loren in the Amazon isn't so bad. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Vulture. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
As the day progressed, fewer people were about. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  You pay these rowboat guys a couple of bucks to get to and from the island.  Later in the season, after the water level goes down, I believe it's possible to wade through the tiny bit of remaining water. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Colorful flowers. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Cool tropical leaf. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
The front of our hotel. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Pascal and Loren! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Ever see a cashew tree?  Yeah, me neither. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  We took a boat tour with our friends Brad and Katie.  They are also doing work in the Amazon this summer. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Pascal and Loren at the start of the boat tour. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Some super sweet house on the hill. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  This is the beginning of an area known as the Floresta Encantada (Enchanted Forest).  When the water level is high at the end of the wet season, the rain forest here is partially submerged.  Our primary goal with the boat tour was to see Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Scenes from a riverbank. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Underwater vegetation. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Reflections! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Reflections! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Entering Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Entering Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  The truly enchanting part of Floresta Encantada.  The water here was something like 4 to 6 feet deep. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  The truly enchanting part of Floresta Encantada.  The water here was something like 4 to 6 feet deep. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Gnarly trees. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
That's a truly gnarly tree.  This is what I think of when I think of swamp or rain forest.  ;) : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Rain forest. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Termite mound! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Submerged palm trees who will hopefully get a breath of fresh air within a few months as the water levels drop. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Some portion of the Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Loren in the Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Making our exit from the enchanted forest. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Pascal on the edge of Floresta Encantada. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Boats! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Headed back to Alter de Chão after part one of our boat journey. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Part two of our boat journey was to a beach accessible only by boat.  It was on the far edge of the island, closer to the main part of the Tapajos. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Passing the island's high point. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Loren basks in the warm air and cool water. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Loren on the beach along the Tapajos. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Dead praying mantis. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Loren, Brad, and Katie. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Pascal and Loren at sunset on a crazy nice beach in the middle of the Amazon. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Katie and Brad. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  The smallest frog I've ever seen.  It must not be bigger than 100 or 200 grains of sand.  It's also so well camouflaged that I can't believe Loren spotted it. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Returning to Alter de Chão. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Sunset from the Alter de Chão waterfront. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  A return to the beach two days later reveals many fewer people.  It was much sleepier this time around. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  These buildings are still flooded out until the water level drops some more. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Loren and our kayak. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Exploring the shoreline, trying to find the perfect beach spot. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Kayak and beach. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Can you spot the big lizard in the tree? : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Hanging out somewhere with internet access. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
We enjoy our coconut water straight from the source! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  We enjoy our coconut water straight from the source! : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Our hotel had little bungalow-like rooms. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Boats at sunset. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Thunderstorm seen from plane in Manaus. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Flying out of Manaus to Miami. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Flying out of Manaus to Miami. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  There were amazing clouds flying out of Manaus. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
There were amazing clouds flying out of Manaus. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation  Views of the Orinoco Mountains (I think) over Venezuela. : brazil, venezuala, airplane, clouds, topography, window  Sunset over the Carribean, and sunset for my all-too-short summer vacation. : brazil, venezuala, airplane, clouds, topography, window  The meeting of the waters of the Amazon river (the gray, muddy color further away) and the Tapajos river (the blue color in the foreground). : rain forest, tropics, brazil, vacation 
Santarem waterfront in the late afternoon sun. : rain forest, vacation, tropics, brazil  Sunset from the waterfront in Santarem. : brazil, tropics, vacation, rain forest  A church at night in Santarem. : vacation, brazil, tropics, rain forest  The joining of the Tapajos and Amazon Rivers seen from above.  The two rivers don't mix until almost 10 miles down stream.  The Amazon is actually much wider than you can tell from these pictures, though, as far as I can tell, the Tapajos and the Amazon are pretty similar in size where they join. : brazil, rain forest, tropics, vacation 
The meeting of the waters in Santarem. : tropics, vacation, brazil, rain forest  White sand, clear water, blue skies.  It was a bit on the warm side, but nothing a dip in the water couldn't fix. : brazil, rain forest, vacation, tropics  A less crowded beach than when we arrived. : vacation, brazil, rain forest, tropics  Peaceful scene the next morning.  After the crowds cleared out at the end of their vacations, the rest of the week was amazingly quiet. : brazil, vacation, tropics, rain forest 
Another view of the island. : vacation, rain forest, brazil, tropics  Edge of the Floresta Encantada. : brazil, vacation, tropics, rain forest  This might be one of the best "seats" I've ever had for watching a thunderstorm. : brazil, vacation, tropics, rain forest  It looks like we're in for a good sunset experience. : brazil, tropics, rain forest, vacation 
Amazing weather viewing. : vacation, rain forest, brazil, tropics  The Tapajos is about 8 miles wide!  And it's only a tributary of the Amazon (which itself is about 12 miles wide at the height of the wet season). : brazil, tropics, vacation, rain forest  Sunset at the Tapajos. : vacation, tropics, rain forest, brazil  Another terrible sunset in Alter de Chão. : tropics, brazil, rain forest, vacation 
Pascal. : vacation, rain forest, tropics, brazil  Loren. : rain forest, brazil, tropics, vacation  Sun setting over the island of Alter de Chão. : vacation, brazil, tropics, rain forest  Boats! : brazil, rain forest, tropics, vacation 
A pretty ideal beach spot.  Blanket laid on the sand, hammock strung between two trees, some shade to hang out in, and water to cool off any time it gets too hot.  Perfect! : brazil, rain forest, vacation, tropics