A river ecology class is more meaningful, and cooler, when you’re actually in the river. Rio Juruena National Park
Photo: Dalio Zippin Neto
This semester is an expedition through part of the Amazon Basin. You will experience the natural environment—the diverse forest types and their myriad of insects, birds, and mammals—as well as the fascinating culture of some of the people who live there, from remote communities along the riverbanks to towns you’ll pass through to the jungle.
The Amazon region is an incredibly beautiful part of the world but a highly challenging place to travel through. For 80 days you’ll explore varying environments, from dry upland forests known as the cerrado, to the lowland rain forest closer to the equator. You will see the southern sources of the Amazon River in the highlands and travel by canoe on some of the huge lowland clear-water tributaries. If you crave a remote, extended, and demanding tropical expedition that enables you to visit part of the Amazon Basin, this unique NOLS program is the best option.
Wilderness First Aid (WFA)
The first few days of your course will be spent learning first aid at the NOLS Amazon facility before leaving on your expedition. Being oriented to the various concerns of the tropics and practicing good hygiene are part of our basic curriculum.
Amazon River Travel
You’ll begin your river section by practicing paddling and other travel skills on flat water for seven days before entering areas of the river with more rapids. This is where you will experience the classic style of Amazon Basin river travel as you hone your paddling skills and learn both tropical and river risk management while negotiating rapids one day and paddling long stretches of still water the next.
There are two hiking sections during which you will practice backpacking skills and land navigation: one in the Brazilian highlands another in the lowland rainforest.
Learning to camp in the rain forest includes sleeping in hammocks and maintaining good personal hygiene. On hiking sections, opportunities for small group travel and independent student expeditions are possible.
Discover Amazon culture as you engage with locals in day-to-day tasks. Rio Madeira
Photo: Dalio Zippin Neto
The Amazon Basin’s biodiversity is matched only by the cultural diversity of its inhabitants. Locals live off the land and use the rivers as their main avenue of transport. During your semester you will spend time with caboclos, seringueiros, and other inhabitants of the Amazon backcountry in their communities as you travel by foot, canoe, voadeira (a small dugout canoe with an outboard), and riverboat.
Our options include staying with local families, contributing to community projects, and visiting isolated riverside communities.
Semester in Amazon
18 and Over
September 9-November 27, 2013 WFA, Amazon River Travel (canoe), Backpacking, Cultural Section