The biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest is simply astounding and thus perfect for ecotourism family travel. Nowhere else on the planet can one find a forest that harbors more than 600 species of birds, well over 100 species of mammals, and more than 100 species of reptiles and amphibians. The insect diversity is even more incredible with literally thousands of species of beetles, bugs, and other six-legged creatures. There are more than 1,000 species of butterflies in the rainforests of Tambopata and the number of shapes, colors, and types of katydids seems to be simply endless.
However, as rich as the Peruvian rainforests are in animal species, the numbers of plants that grow in Tambopata is simply incredible and will amaze anyone on a family eco vacation. At least 20,000 plant species occur in the rainforests of southeastern Peru and who knows how many more still await discovery. To cope with the armies of insects and herbivores that feed on their leaves and vegetation, the rainforest plants of Tambopata have evolved an incredible array of defenses to ward them off. Many plants have elaborate thorns, irritating hairs on their leaves, and oils for protection against herbivores. Most have also developed chemicals that act as natural pesticides against insects, fungi, and other creatures that can harm plants.
Several of the natural compounds that help to fend off insects actually have medicinal properties for people. Generations of Ese-Eja people have learned about and used hundreds of rainforests plants to treat everything from pain to parasites, kidney problems, and high blood pressure. On the eco travel, ethnobotanical trail at Refugio Amazonas, your guide will show you important medicinal rainforest plants such as the anti-oxident rich Uņa de Gato, the highly hallucinogenic Ayahuasca vine, and the Para-Para plant (sometimes used to cure impotency). These and other medicinal plants grow wild in the rainforest and are still cultivated and used by local shamans to treat diseases.
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