What Exactly Is the Amazon?

July 10, 2018 - 2 minutes read

Sometimes the Amazon can get confusing. Not the company that sells everything under the sun, but the place in South America that you can explore on luxury and adventure riverboat cruises with Jungle Experiences.

What exactly is the Amazon? It’s actually several different things.

First and foremost, it’s a mighty river. The world’s largest river in terms of sheer water volume. And either the first or second longest on the planet depending on how you measure that thing.

The Amazon River has hundreds of tributaries that fan out across the top half of South America. Two of the bigger tributaries are the Ucayali and Marañón rivers in northeast Peru.

The main stem — the waterway that actually bears the name Amazon River — starts at the point where these two tributaries merge near the waterfront town of Nauta (homeport of the MV La Perla and MV Zafiro).

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve extends to the point of land where the three rivers come together. So in a way, when you cruise the park with Jungle Experiences, you’re exploring the birthplace of the Amazon.

When all of those tributaries are lumped together in a single watershed, it’s called the Amazon Basin.

Covering 2.9 million square miles — an area the size of Australia — it’s the world’s largest water basin. And it drains water from eight different nations: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana and Surinam.

Around 70 percent of the Amazon Basin is covered by the Amazon rainforest. And you guessed it! This is the world’s largest tropical forest.

Just about two-thirds of the Amazon forest lies in Brazil, with another 13% in Peru.

So when you say you’re going to the Amazon it can mean any of these things — the river, the basin, the rain forest or more likely the entire region. Which is also called Amazonia. But let’s not even get into that!

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