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Not everything you hear about the Amazon is true – but most of it is.

There can’t be many people who aren’t enthralled by the Amazon. There’s its vastness, its exotic wildlife, undiscovered tribes, Inca gold and an indefinable magical ambience. It’s a place of adventures, mysteries, lost cities, Amazonian warriors, fearsome creatures, magical cures and despotic invaders.

Not everything you hear about the Amazon is true – but most of it is.

I’m on a conservation project with the environmental charity Earthwatch. We are surveying pink river dolphin, macaw, caiman, giant otter, monkey and fish – all key indicator species in our conservation program. Some indicate the health of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, others the impact of hunting, fishing, logging and oil/gas exploration.

The humidity is close to 90%, clothing is soaked and rivulets of sweat, unable to evaporate, run down into boots and drip off extremities.

We spent all day looking for the rare red uakari monkey, they’re constantly on the move but we eventually find them or perhaps they find us. High up in the tree canopy the troop stops to observe us, some turn their backs and show us their stumpy tails or maybe they’re mooning? Others come down for a closer look at the strange non-arboreal, multicoloured, primate troop and a few lob sticks at us.



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I’ve been writing about travel for the past 14 years and have travelled extensively from [A]ustralia to [Z]imbabwe. I’ve been around the world a few of times and have written widely for the international press in America, Australia and the UK, for newspapers, magazines and websites.I am also the author of a definitive guide to Wildlife Conservation Volunteering (Bradt, 2012) and have worked on volunteer projects in South America, Africa, India and Europe. Working from a riverboat on the Amazon has to be my favourite conservation project – a bit of comfort and luxury at the end of the day after getting filthy ploughing through the muddy jungle.I think the best way of getting around is travelling by train, not just because it’s eco-friendly but because I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I’ve written a lot about train travel and am a contributing author to Great Railway Journeys of the World (Time Out 2009). My enthusiasm for travelling on trains culminated in 2011 – 2012 when I travelled around the world by train - from London to Sydney. This was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done and I spent three months because I couldn’t stop myself getting off to explore what couldn’t be seen from the window.Naturally it’s now a book!

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