Brazil is a fascinating country. It's the largest country in South America by far; only a bit smaller than the continental U.S., Brazil borders every country in South America except Ecuador and Chile. And it's the only country on the continent where the people speak Portuguese rather than Spanish. Brazilian people are some of the nicest people we've ever met in the entire world.
One of Brazil's greatest features is the Amazon River and surrounding rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest is home to nearly 30% of the Earth's plant and animal species, making it the area of greatest biodiversity on earth. The Amazon River carries 11 times more water than the Mississippi River, and many scientists think that it's the longest river on earth (the only other river that might be longer is the Nile River in Africa). At the mouth of the river, where the Amazon meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Amazon is over 200 miles wide! That's about the distance from Chicago to Indianapolis!
So how did the Amazon River get to be the greatest river on Earth? To answer that question, we need to go back in time nearly 500 million years ago to when all of the Earth's continents were connected in a land mass that scientists call Gondwanaland. About 160 million years ago Gondwanaland began to break up and began to form the earth's continents that we know today. As South America broke free from Africa, the Amazon River was formed. When South America was first formed, the Amazon River flowed toward the west. Then, there was a massive earthquake which made the river change directions and formed the Andes Mountains. All of the water that used to flow westward began to pool up and form an inland sea throughout Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and Peru. Then all of that water eventually found its way out to sea, just like all of the water on the Earth's surface. It began to cut a channel very similar to the Amazon River we know today.
All of the team members on the Expedition Team have been explorers for their whole lives. We all grew up spending lots of time outside, either playing sports, camping, or just being outdoors. In school, we all were fascinated with animals and far away places, just like you. We all found that the best way to study plants and animals is by being quiet, patient, and willing to travel to places that are hard to get to.
Before we travel to the Amazon Rainforest, it helps to know as much as about it as possible. The more we learn about the rainforest by reading, studying, and talking with others, the easier it will be to stay safe.
All of the team members must be in good physical shape too. During our expedition we'll paddle our canoes every day for 6 to 8 hours each day, which requires us to have strong muscles. To get in shape before an expedition each team member exercises outside nearly every day. We ride bicycles, run, canoe, ski, snowshoe, and work outside every chance we get. A fit body is less likely to get injured or tired when we're out on the trail.
All of the team members must get several vaccinations and shots to keep ourselves healthy while we're away. Each team member received vaccines for yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies. We also got boosters of all our childhood vaccines. In addition team members will also take pills to keep us from getting malaria, which is caused by certain mosquito bites.
Each day, after we canoe, we will look at all of our photos and videos we took during the day. We will decide which ones are the best and most interesting. Then, we will put them on our computers and upload them to our website. Because there is no wireless internet, we have to use a satellite phone to update our web site and receive emails from all of you. We can use the satellite phone from anywhere on Earth!
You are part of this expedition too! While we are in Brazil, we will ask you to make important decisions for us. Through Cast Your Vote and the Daily Dilemma, we will ask you to solve problems and make decisions about our journey. We look forward to getting this important feedback from you while we are in the rainforest.
What will the Team bring to the Amazon?
2 pairs of quick-dry pants
3 Canoes, 7 paddles
Week 1 Links
Mongabay - the Ultimate Rainforest Resource: http://www.mongabay.com/home.htm
National Geographic's Brazil Information: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/countries/country_brazil.html
Extreme Science - The Amazon River: http://www.extremescience.com/AmazonRiver.htm
Animation of Gondwana Break-Up: http://kartoweb.itc.nl/gondwana/index.html
Facts about the Amazon River: http://www.amazon-rainforest.org/amazon-river.html
World Wildlife Fund's Rainforest Information: http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/amazon/index.html
World Rainforest Information Portal: http://www.rainforestweb.org/
Dr. Blythe's Rainforest Education Site (great for students): http://www.rainforesteducation.com/
What is your favorite part of the Trans-Amazon Expedition?