From January 5-26, the first year Fellows had many amazing adventures in Brazil. The class was determined to see four major areas in Brazil even though the country is just a little smaller than the United States. The students visited Rio de Janeiro, the Pantanal, Iguaçu Falls, and the Amazon.
The Fellows began with enthusiasm in the fast-paced city of Rio de Janeiro, where they stayed for five nights. In addition to taking in all the well-known sites in the city, the Fellows also explored the Tijuca Forest, which is the largest urban forest in the world. They visited an organic co-op and farm in the rural area surrounding Rio, met with the Horticulture Director at the Rio Botanic Garden, and visited the home and garden of the famous landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx.
Next, the Fellows headed for central Brazil to the Pantanal. This area, known as a savanna wetland, has many pastures that become flooded during the rainy season and is known for its many diverse bird species. The Fellows witnessed toucans, macaws, and monkeys in the wild as they took a horse back ride through the flooded pastures. After spending a couple of days in the Pantanal, the students headed a few hours north to a dry area outside on the Pantanal. There they visited the Cidade de Pedra, Cuiaba City Zoo, Cuiaba Aquarium, and hiked to seven different waterfalls in Chapada National Park.
After leaving the central region of Brazil, the Fellows and chaperones went to the border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay to Foz da Iguaçu. There they visited the nearby Iguaçu Falls, which is larger than Niagara Falls, and Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam, which is the third largest dam of it kind in the world. Within 24 hours of their arrival, the Fellows left Iguaçu and headed to Manaus.
Located at the origin of the Amazon River, Manaus is the largest city in the Brazilian rainforest. While in Manaus, the students visited INPA research sites, both in the city and in the rainforest. One night, everyone enjoyed the experience of sleeping in hammocks in the rainforest. Before leaving, the Fellows learned about the city’s history as they toured Manaus’ shopping district, food market, and opera house.
The students left Manaus on a boat, as they headed up the Rio Negro. On their 4-day boat ride, the students learned how to harvest latex for rubber production and heard the history of rubber plantations during the Brazilian Rubber Boom. They also visited several small villages where the local residents embraced the students. The Fellows enjoyed piranha fishing and seeing the giant water lily, Victoria amazonica. The trip ended as the boat made its way to where the two rivers, the Negro and Solimoes, merge to form the Amazon River, known as “the meeting of the waters.”