Opinion – É Logo Ali: In the Amazon, trails go beyond piranha fishing

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When we talk about trails, the vast majority of readers immediately think of mountains, fields and large rock formations. But few will remember that we have a biome in our country that challenges more than just tiptoeing through the dust: the Amazon rainforest, which comprises 61% of Brazilian territory, and is occupied by a mere 12% of the population, including there around 180 indigenous ethnic groups.​

It is an area that, according to a survey put together by climatologist Carlos Nobre, retired from INPA (National Institute for Research in the Amazon) and member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), an institution that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, has an estimated 350 trillion trees. Amidst its closed canopies around 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals, 1,294 birds, 378 reptiles, 427 amphibians and more than 3,000 fish live together, in addition to some 100,000 invertebrates. The only thing that has less than in any other corner of the 8.5 million square kilometers of national territory is precisely this species known as Brazilian tourist. Trailers, then, can be counted on the fingers.

Of course, the lack of more walkers in the forest is not (at least not only) due to the fear of mosquitoes, true bloodsucking dragons. To begin with, it is worth remembering that the prices of air tickets from anywhere in the country to the Amazonian capitals are at the moment of death and there is nothing to indicate that they should become cheaper in the coming months. But it’s worth organizing the budget to venture to those bands. It’s an experience of a lifetime.

In the study “Amazônia XXI”, coordinated by the architect Silvia Finguerut and the art critic Paulo Henkenhoff, coordinators of FGV Knowledge, in addition to the numbers by Nobre mentioned above, a research by Antônio Lavareda and Marcela Montenegro is included. It contains information that 90% of Brazilians say they are concerned about preserving the Amazon—but 86% of those who live outside the nine states that make up the region (Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins and Maranhão) have never set foot in the forest, nor can they imagine floating down a creek. And even among the residents of the region, only 48% had already left the surroundings of their urban areas.

If the reader is included in this immense contingent of Brazilians who only know the Amazon through the sad images of deforestation, illegal mining or harassment of riverside and indigenous communities, just one tip: just go. Give the forest a chance and fall in love with this universe of 500 shades of green.

“Many people travel to Europe just to visit the lavender fields, but few know that in Brazil there is a region as rich in aromas and essences as the Amazon rainforest”, says Aline Alves, who with Ana Medori, her partner at Aura Cosmética , conceived the Aromatic Tour through the Amazon. The idea of ​​the two, after several trips to the forest to acquire the raw materials for their products, with a focus on sustainability, is to show how the riverside communities live, how the extraction of breu-branco, copaiba and other products used in the production of its aromatherapy line, and give the tourist a taste of what it is like to walk in the middle of this so unknown biome.

“No matter how much you walk 4, 5 hours through the forest, you will leave there very fueled by the energy of the forest”, guarantees Aline.

The first edition of the Tour will take place next July, when there is less rain in the region. But beware: less rain does not mean dry weather. Only the deluge is a little less intense and dispenses with the ark. But don’t forget the waterproof boots, all right?

While Ana and Aline organize a trip accessible to practically every tourist profile, and which will include walks only during the day, with stops for diving on the beautiful beaches of the Rio Negro, most inns and lodges (jungle hotels, in international forest jargon) ) offers several options for tours for those who like the bush or never thought they could. Of course, the banal canoe trips at night will always be offered to stun the alligators with the boatmen’s headlights, piranha fishing with small baits of fresh meat (which the voracious little fish, already schooled in the outrage, catch without biting the hook, to frustration of unsuspecting tourists) or environmentally incorrect swimming with porpoises. But for those who want to feel in their boots a little more intensely what the real forest is, it is best to hire a guide and go alone or in a small group for a good walk through the forest, with overnight stay(s). The most daring can even take a survival course in the wild, if they want to sign up for the next edition of some extreme reality show.

A detail about trails in the dense forest: most of the time, it is not necessary to bring a tent or sleeping bag. Because of the rain and the creatures that crawl at night in search of food, in the forest people sleep in hammocks hanging under bivouacs —rustic structures made of stilts covered with tarpaulins or thick plastics— and wrapped in mosquito nets. In addition to quick-drying pants and long-sleeved blouses, to avoid not only scratches but also possible bumps against nettles and annoying insects, it is advisable to follow Mom’s old advice and bring a warm coat for the night: temperatures there drop sharply and the clothes worn during the day are wet or damp, the risk of a good cold cannot be ruled out, no matter how good the fire that the guides light even under the biggest toró.

By the way, do you know what they use to do the magic of keeping the fire burning in the rain? Well, it’s precisely the breu-branco, that tree resin that Ana and Aline go to get for their aromatherapy products. Because in the forest nothing is lost and everything is used.

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