Beyond the Branches Blog

5 Jan

Is the Amazon Rainforest a Flat Region?

Every September 5th, the Amazonian people of Brazil celebrate the day of the Amazon Rainforest that signifies the importance of one of humanity’s most precious natural heritages, established in 1850 to mark the creation of the Province of Amazonas; later to give rise to the present-day State of Amazonas and commemorated at Tropical Tree Climbing deep in the northern Brazilian Amazon.

It is very common to think of the Amazon as a great flat region, all covered with luxuriant forest. This idea doesn’t correspond to reality, since there are savannas, prairies, hills and even sand dunes.

Within the predominating landscape of the Amazon region, it is true that the main character is the forest itself. It is dense and full of life with very tall trees which are hundreds of years old. But when flying over Roraima State, for instance, we see a very different image of the Amazon. Suddenly the forest turns into savanna, the scenery changes completely and hundreds of lakes shine in an area that is totally covered by grass. Further away on the horizon, small isolated hills still have dense vegetation and are called “islands” and the elevations with dense vegetation are the raised lands of what used to be a great lake which, due to tectonic factors and erosion, drained all of its water through the Branco river. There, one can see the characteristic “tepuios”, high plains with abrupt escarpments, where a new natural border is created between the forest that goes up the slopes and a new and different savanna which occupies the high part of the plateau.

Further west is the Pico da Neblina [3,014m (9,946ft), Brazil’s highest point. Rarely thought, can anyone admire it in all of its beauty. When we had the opportunity in our last photography expedition, it didn’t last more than a few seconds, for suddenly a great mass of fog started to go up the Venezuelan side, falling like a waterfall upon the valley, then rising again at great speed. We marveled at the beauty of these movements of air masses. We arrive at last to what seems to be a great plain and its lush green cover.