The Amazon River is quite simply the most astounding river in the world. Although it fights with the Nile for the title of the longest river in the world, it leaves its African cousin in the shade with almost every other measurement of the great rivers in the world. The Amazon has a water flow that produces 20 per cent of all the fresh water in the world, and its force pushes the fresh water more than 160 kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean from its mouth.
The Amazon rainforest is the richest tropical rainforest in the world and covers an area of more than 5.4 million square kilometers and is home to more than one third of all the animals on earth. More than 3,000 types of fish make their home here. Many exotic and beautiful birds also nestle in its trees.
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Many of the animals, fish and birds, are the most extraordinary creatures known to man. In the forest, the mighty Jaguar roams, and other interesting and exotic animals include the anteater, the sloth and wild pigs. You will see trees that walk on sand, people who appear out of nowhere, birds that sing that you cannot see, a myraid of the weird and wonderful.
The waters of the Amazon hold great quantities of alligators and piranha. The latter are prevalent in such huge numbers, that they are really quite an easy fish for fishermen to catch, and actually are quite tasty. However, catching them is a bit of a hazard as their teeth are so sharp that they slice through flesh so finely that a person only realizes they have been bitten when they see the blood.
Another extraordinary fish is the piraracu, the largest freshwater fish in the world, which grows to a length of 4.5 metres and can weigh as much as 200 kilos. The fish is so large it needs to be caught by harpoon, and is sometimes a hazard to humans because it has bad eye sight and will swallow almost everything it encounters, including human arms and legs.
The Amazonian waters are also home to the giant anaconda, one of the largest snakes in the world. This massive snake spends much of its time in the water, with only its nostrils protruding above the surface.
The friendly fresh water dolphin is also a common sight in Amazonian waters. But man has betrayed the trust of his best fish friend, by giving the friendly dolphin the blame for any unexpected pregnancies which occur in the villages along the banks of the Amazon. Legend has it that at the village parties, where young men and women meet often for the first time, and under the influence of alcohol, the friendly dolphin will appear as a man for the evening and seduce the spellbound and innocent young girls. The result is the unexpected and surprising pregnancies, for which the dolphin is given the blame.
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The Rio Negro (Black River), and one of the main tributaries of the Amazon, is a beautiful river. It gets its name from its black colour, through the sediment falling to the bottom of the river, and just like black tea, the water assumes the colour. The water of the Rio Negro is sweet and soft, a delight to swim in and even to drink. It tastes delicious.
In the dry season the banks of the Rio Negro are laid bare, and reveal beautiful crystal white sandy beaches. This is picture postcard country because the four startling vividly pure colours of the Amazon form the most amazing picture frames-the black of the river, the white of the sand, the green of the forest, and the blue of the sky.
Another unique and wonderful phenomenon occurs close to the city of Manaus. Two of the tributaries of the Amazon meet, but do not join together. The black waters of the Rio Negro meet the chocolate coloured waters of the Rio Solimoes. For six kilometres the different coloured waters and their different textures flow side by side. This is known as the ‘encontro das aguas’ or ‘meeting of the waters’, a beautiful spectacle best seen from the air. Almost every pilot flying to Manaus takes his plane over the meeting of the waters and dips his wing, almost in salute to the mighty Amazon, enabling his passengers the perfect view.
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