We’ve made it to the mouth of the Samiria River. After 17 days and approximately 300 miles, we’ve reached the Maranon River.
Part of what makes the Samiria River so interesting is that the river creates its own watershed. A watershed is an area of land where its water drains into a common place. All of the water in the Samiria River and its tributaries, ponds, and lakes we’ve passed will eventually end up in the Maranon River – just like we did in our canoes. The Maranon will join with Ucayali River to form the Amazon River.
The Amazon River starts as thousands of rivers. The Samiria, Maranon, and Ucayali are only a few of the thousands of tributaries (smaller rivers that feed a larger river) throughout the Amazon watershed. The Amazon watershed is the largest on earth, covering an area of more than 7 million square miles in 5 South American countries!
The huge Huallaga River is part of the Amazon watershed. It flows into the Maranon near Lagunas.
Why is the Amazon watershed the largest on earth? There is a simple answer: topography. Think of the Amazon watershed like a giant saucer tipped toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Andes Mountains, which we crossed up and over on our bikes, cause all of the water from rain and snow to flow toward the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. However, the eastern slope of the Andes receives lots of snow and rain, which flows down the mountains toward the Amazon River. Some of the water that we passed on our bikes will flow over 4,000 miles before reaching the Atlantic.
The contents of this waterfall we saw three weeks ago will eventually make its way to the Atlantic Ocean via the Amazon River.
Our journey began nearly one thousand miles ago on the Pacific Ocean. Like the flowing water, we’ve made our way toward the Amazon River. From the top of the Andes Mountains, which we reached four weeks ago, we’ve been slowly traveling downhill toward the Atlantic Ocean. The slight downhill angle is what gives the Samiria River its current: the greater the angle, the faster the river’s current. We still have over 2,000 miles to paddle before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
The Team tests the water of the Samiria watershed just before it enters the Maranon.
Traveling through the Samiria watershed has been a dream come true. There is so much water in it, and it’s only considered a small watershed by Amazon standards. All of the forest is under water, but still flowing toward the Amazon. The water and land within the Samiria watershed provides the perfect habitat for tens of thousands of plant and animal species. Plus, the Samiria watershed is well protected by the rangers within the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve.
The Samiria River began as a small trickle of water. As tributaries entered it, the Samiria grew to over half of a mile wide.
Witnessing the natural, un-touched Samiria watershed is such a special opportunity. There is still plenty to explore, uncover, and marvel in this amazing ecosystem. When people realize how incredible the rainforest is, I hope they will appreciate it and work toward saving it. Watersheds are very fragile natural things. What are some ways you might be able help keep your watershed healthy?