river cruises amazon
river cruises amazon

The Arapaima

As the Amazon rainforest is famous for its animal life, a great way to learn more about the Amazon jungle is to get to know its wild inhabitants.

From the illusive to the plentiful and the cuddly to the downright terrifying, the Amazon is home to a huge variety of creatures, each with their own unique part to play in jungle life.

Due to their abundance and variety, learning about all of the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and creepy crawlies that live in the rainforest would take a lifetime. So, to make life easier, why not pick a few of the more unique inhabitants of the rainforest and start with them?

The arapaima

If you’re heading off on one of the many Amazon jungle expeditions that are based on the river itself, the best place to start when learning about the Amazon jungle and its residents is with those that live in the water.

The largest fresh water fish in South America, and therefore perhaps the easiest to spot, is the arapaima.

With its torpedo-like shape, large blackish-green scales and hard, mineralised outer layer, the arapaima looks more like something from the Jurassic era than the 21st century.

Able to reach lengths of over 2m, some specimens have been known to exceed 2.5m or 8ft 2in, with the longest ever recorded a whopping 4.52m or 15ft.

river cruise amazonSpotting an arapaima

ArapaimaIf there’s one thing we all know about the Amazon jungle, it’s that it’s big, and sometimes spotting the creatures that live there can be very tricky.

However, due to often hypoxic conditions of the Amazon floodplains, the arapaima has developed the ability to extract oxygen from air, effectively allowing it to breath out of the water.

This means that, unlike other inhabitants of the Amazon’s deep waters, the arapaima has to surface every 5-15 minutes in order to survive.

Though this makes them easier to spot, it also makes them vulnerable to fishermen and, as a result, the arapaima is often hunted for its meat by indigenous communities.

Finding out about the creatures that have specially adapted to life in the rainforest is a fantastic way to learn more about the Amazon jungle and to familiarize yourself with life there before you arrive.

By knowing more about the evolution, habitat and nature of these extraordinary creatures, you can greatly enhance your own trip to the jungle, making your expedition even more eye-opening and unforgettable.

Andre Robles
Andre Robles

Is an expert in everything South America, his passion for the region and exploring off the beaten path makes his travel writing both useful and interesting. He has written for several mainstream publications and you can read his guides on Ecuador, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. Andre is also an accomplished photographer and has been recognized as one of the best wildlife photographers in the region, his photos have been featured in National Geographic and other journals. As a travel agent Andre specializes in curating unique experiences, crafting tailor made itineraries and helping visitors make the best of their vacation, always putting the experience first

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