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Student in Class at ACTS.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Philip K. Wittman.

Home / Rain Forest Itineraries / Special Interest Programs

Academic Work-Shop Itinerary
7 Days / 6 Nights
(University - High School - Middle School)

Amazon Rain Forest as a classroom for natural history, ecology, biology, physics & chemistry

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually take your students out of their classroom and immerse them in a rain forest environment where an abundance of plant, animal, fish, bird and insect habitat flourishes, and where over 50% of the plant and animal life on Planet Earth lives? It may not be unrealistic to consider doing so and we're here to show you how it can be done - as we have for many professors, teachers and their students throughout the 40 years of developing and running Explorama Lodges along the Peruvian Amazon River and its tributaries in Iquitos, Peru.

Trading classroom seats and textbooks for trails and open-air lectures, the students find themselves in nature's laboratory listening to experienced, indigenous instructors & guides who are expert in their respective disciplines. Why do columns of ants march in unison carrying tiny parasols cut from leaves? What animals, insects and birds live on the Forest Floor? In the Understory? In the Canopy, and in the Emergent levels of the rain forest? Or, while rocking gently along river's edge in one of Explorama's exploratory-equipped boats, students are exposed to the amazing diversity of fishes found in the waters of the Amazon that contain the largest variety of freshwater fish on earth. Cast a net. Haul it in and hundreds of brightly colored species are flipping ready to be examined. Students learn the identity of random species and their habits, and how some interact with the forest as major seed dispersers - but all are released back to the water, unharmed except of course the piranhas that you might want to try for dinner!

One hundred miles down river from Iquitos, along trails in Explorama's privately owned primary rainforest, a shaman caresses his medicinal plants and patiently explains how medicines derived from his plants are used to treat various ailments of the local indigenous people, and the student is reminded that approximately one fourth of the pharmaceuticals used in the industrialized world come from similar plants of the tropical rain forest. And everywhere, students observe first hand the epiphytes that cling to trees: beautiful orchids, bromeliads and ferns and are shown how a bromeliad's leaf tank can hold less that a pint to more then 10 gallons of water, and how the tank is home to communities of small creatures including bacteria, mosquitoes, tadpoles and other animals. The experiences of the rain forest are endless and constantly befuddle and amaze even the most learned visitor, and it is truly a living laboratory of timeless discoveries.

Following is a sample 7 Day / 6 Night Amazon Rain Forest student itinerary. Any itinerary can be revised to match your particular area of study, and we would be pleased to work with you on developing a personalized program. We will also help you with obtaining the best air fares from your home town/city to Iquitos, Peru and we will also walk you through such items as suggested clothing, recommended shots, what to expect when visiting villages along the Amazon and other points of interest that you, your students or their families may have.

Iquitos - Explorama Lodge
Reception at the airport and transfer to the center of the bustling city of Iquitos. Your guide will take you on a tour of this rubber boom town where many of the buildings are covered in tile brought as ballast to Iquitos from Portugal by the rubber barons. You will also have a chance to see the central market of Belen where tropical fruits and fish are sold in an open market. From the market you will continue on to Explorama's boat docks and travel down the Amazon River to Explorama Lodge. There will be an orientation upon arrival and hike along the "Lake Trail" through lowland rain forest which is seasonally flooded. Your guide will explain the differences between the plants and animals that inhabit the flooded forest as compared to the terra firme forest on higher ground. Lunch, Dinner (Overnight Explorama Lodge)

Explorama Lodge
Morning hike along the "Bushmaster Trail". Scientific studies by the Missouri Botanical Gardens have found one of the highest biodiversity of trees per square hectare in the world along this trail. Your guide will point out many examples of native plants used as ornamental plants in other parts of the world. If you are quiet and lucky you may also find poison dart arrow frogs, squirrel monkeys or marmosets along this trail. Afternoon boating excursion along the Amazon in search of either of the two species of freshwater dolphin, pink and gray, found in the river. There will also be an opportunity for fishing to see the some of the incredible diversity of fish in the Amazon River, including piranha, and where more species exist than in the entire Atlantic Ocean. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Overnight Explorama Lodge)

Explorama Lodge - ExplorNapo Lodge
After breakfast, you will visit a neighboring Yagua Indian Community where your guide will explain their culture and how their way of life has changed over time. There will also be an opportunity to see some of the local crafts and for a demonstration of the blowgun, which some Yagua elders still use for hunting. After lunch a boat ride down the Amazon and up the Napo River takes you to the ExplorNapo Amazon Rainforest Reserve and ExplorNapo Lodge. You will stop on the way to visit a river clinic run by an American doctor for local residents where she will talk about health issues of the area and how she is able to treat them. Evening excursion by open boat along the Sucusari Stream in search of caiman, to enjoy the night sounds and, if it is a clear night, to see the stars and constellations of the Southern sky. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Overnight ExplorNapo Lodge)

ExplorNapo Lodge
Morning excursion to visit a local community and school. Here you will learn about the "riberenos" or river people's way of life which depends on the movements of the mighty rivers and the rain forest around them. Hopefully school will be in session and the students will proudly teach you some of their favorite songs. Afternoon boating excursion to a blackwater oxbow lake formed when water from the Napo River became separated from the main flow of the river. These lakes provide another environment within the rain forest and are often covered with giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies. You may also see the elusive Hoatzin bird, a prehistoric-looking bird that is born with claws at the end of its wings. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Overnight ExplorNapo Lodge)

ExplorNapo Lodge - ACTS
Morning hike to ACTS, Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies, and visit to the Canopy Walkway, a suspended bridge spanning 500 meters, connected by tree platforms and reaching a height of over 115 feet above the forest floor. Here there is time to observe a part of the rain forest rarely seen by man but accessible without any type of climbing skill or equipment. Your guide will discuss the importance of light in the battle for growth of the trees and how the plants must adapt to the very different environments on the forest floor and at the top of the canopy. Afternoon hike along the Useful Plants Trail where your guide will point out many plants, seen here growing in primary rain forest, which are used by local residents in the construction of their homes, canoes and tools. There will be an opportunity to revisit the Canopy Walkway after dark and to stop along the path to the Walkway where, when you turn off your flashlight, phosphorescent fungi appear like stars on the forest floor at night. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Overnight ACTS)

ACTS - Ceiba Tops
Early morning pre-breakfast visit to the Canopy Walkway which is the best time for bird watching. After breakfast you will walk back to ExplorNapo and board boats for the trip to Ceiba Tops where hotel-style rooms with air conditioning and hot water provide more of the comforts of home and a start for your return to civilization. There will be time to enjoy the pool, water slide and Jacuzzi before lunch. Afternoon hike in the primary and secondary forest surrounding Ceiba Tops where your guide will explain the difference between these two forest types and where you will see many huge trees literally covered in epiphytes including the immense Ceiba or Kapok Tree for which the lodge is named. A night walk around Ceiba Tops will reveal a wide variety of katydids, moths and other insects attracted by the electric lights. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Overnight Ceiba Tops)

Ceiba Tops - Iquitos
Morning boat excursion to "Monkey Island", a private reserve where more than five species of tropical primates including small tamarins, saki, titi and large woolly monkeys are protected. Afternoon boat trip to Iquitos and transfer to the airport for your departure flight to Lima. Breakfast, Lunch (if departure flight permits)

Special Service Project Option - A day in a local Amazonian village

Marcos Oversluijs, a biology graduate from UNAP, the local University in Iquitos, organizes productive conservation-based projects for visiting student groups interested in working hand in hand with village students and adults to make a difference in their communities. In 2008, Marcos led 23 Service Projects for groups of students visiting Explorama's lodges.

His community projects include the following:

  1. A school painting project such as the front of the school or interior.
  2. A planting project such as fruit trees around the soccer field, garden in front of the school or raised vegetable garden.
  3. A construction project such as latrines, benches, perimeter fence for school property or fence for gardens.
  4. Ecological signs for the school grounds and gardens and at the end of the project.
  5. Time for a soccer or volleyball game or swimming in the river for some fun with the village kids

Depending on the number of students, Marcos suggests teams of students for each project and Explorama will make sure that students from the river communities are a part of each team. The projects take about half a day and include a box lunch of 'juanes' (wrapped chicken and rice dish), fruit, juice and cookies.

Planning these projects involves trips by Marcos to the community to organize supplies provided by the community like wood necessary for construction, and to assure that the event is well coordinated. Explorama will purchase all additional supplies necessary to complete the projects such as seedlings, compost, tools, paint, brushes, etc.

If your student group would like to include a Service Project as part of their itinerary, please include a donation of $450 which will be used to pay all expenses not covered by Explorama.

*Due to the everchanging nature of the rain forest, day-by-day activities may vary due to local conditions*

Academic Work-Shop Itinerary
2017

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Note: Please contact us for special Academic rates.
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