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 the southern part of the Amazon Basin.
You will experience the natural environment—the diverse forest types and their myriad insects, birds, and mammals—as well as the fascinating culture of some of the people who live there. 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 a variety of environments that transition 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 for you.
Wilderness First Aid (WFA)
The first few days of your course will be spent learning wilderness first aid at the NOLS Amazon base before leaving on your expedition. Being oriented to the various health concerns of the tropics and practicing good hygiene are part of our basic curriculum.
Amazon River Travel
Descending a major tributary of the Amazon River by canoe. This is where you will experience the classic style of Amazon Basin river travel as you hone your paddling skills by negotiating rapids with considerable whitewater one day and paddling long stretches of still water the next.
You will also learn both tropical and river risk management to fully appreciate the Amazon, so don't be turned off by the rumors of bugs. There are cultural experiences along the way with chances to visit remote subsistence communities and meet people who make a living along the river. Lastly, you will experience the wonder and challenge of tree ascension which will provide you with an unparalleled view and understanding of the rainforest canopy.
The hiking section during the semester will take you to the remote Brazilian Highlands on the southern rim of the Amazon Basin.
The little-explored area is where you will be challenged to navigate through tricky terrain navigation and at the same time rewarded with amazing vistas, excellent swimming holes, and giant waterfalls. On hiking sections, opportunities for small group travel and independent student expeditions are possible.
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. During the cultural section you will stay with local families in isolated riverside communities and contribute to community projects.
Semester in Amazon
18 and Over
September 9-November 27, 2014 WFA, Amazon River Travel (canoe), Backpacking, Cultural Section