Patty Monahan is the founder of Our Whole Village, a travel company that connects families with meaningful adventures that give back. Follow along on her adventure to the Amazon!
As a parent and travel business owner, I love to dream up new adventures with my kids. Yet, not all adventures are created equal.
Every once in awhile we come across a destination that captures our hearts. A unique experience that touches us in a magical way. A journey that allows us to truly feel the transformational power of travel and just how much travel can help us raise good global citizens.
These experiences offer deeper lifelong lessons of respect, kindness and compassion. They foster a stronger connection with the world, its people and cultures. They make us feel as part of a global community.
The Brazilian Amazon is one of these places. Traveling through the rainforest with kids teaches us about the environment and conservation. A cruise in the Rio Negro takes us out of our comfort zone, giving families a different perspective while bringing them closer.
My daughters were 5 and 3 when they went to the Amazon the first time. We have just returned from their second expedition. They are now 9 and 7 and this visit was just as magical.
Observing them and the other families in our group, here are the highlights of our last visit to the Brazilian Amazon.
Unplugging as a Family and Strengthening Family Bonds
Raising good global citizens starts with family culture. Yet, many aspects of modern life seem to draw families apart rather than together. From computer games to texting, our children are spending more time on electronics and away from us. And parents are just as guilty.
Among the best things about our Amazon river cruise were: 1) the long periods of downtime during slow navigations between destinations and 2) the lack of internet connection.
Kids got plenty of unstructured playtime, where they could chill on the deck, make new friends and – their favorite – jump off the boat into the refreshing waters of the Rio Negro.
The adults on board had a harder time adjusting (looking at you, fellow travel bloggers! :)), but slowly real conversations started to flow. We were all truly present, and connected on a more authentic level.
Immersing in Local Culture and Experiencing a Different Way of Life
Because of the slower pace of our Amazon adventures, we immersef ourselves deeply in the local culture. Connecting with locals and taking the time to experience their way of life has profound effects on the kids (and adults) in our groups. It allows us to put our lives and experiences in perspective—to see the bigger picture.
From visiting a school at a local river community, to participating in a woodwork making workshop at the Almerinda Malaquias Foundation, both supported by our expedition, kids are given the opportunity to experience a world where the river and its tides dictate the pace of life.
They gained an appreciation for other ways of life and made simple, yet powerful connections with local children through an impromptu football (soccer) game and swimming together in the pouring rain.
Becoming One with Nature and Fostering a Deeper Connection with the World and the Environment
The Brazilian Amazon represents one of the most vital ecosystems on the planet. It contains thousands of tree species and more than 50,000 different types of plants. Besides flora like orchids and bromeliads, the canopy of the forest teems with jewel-colored birds, gray-tinged sloths, agile monkeys, and much more.
On our most recent hike through the Amazon, the kids experienced the magic of the rainforest firsthand. Dwarfed by life-sustaining trees including the Samauma, the tallest trees in the Amazon, our kids learned about the secrets of the rainforest with our guide Joshua.They worked on their patience as they fished for the infamous piranhas, and braved the rapids of Rio Preto, a small tributary inside the Jau National Park.Experiencing the Brazilian Amazon firsthand provided the perfect foundation for discussing respect, compassion, and how to make responsible choices for the Earth. Each child fell in love with the rainforest for different reasons, but it is this love that will encourage them to take better care of the planet and its creatures, as well as appreciate and respect different cultures and traditions.
We need to raise a generation of global citizens, and the Brazilian Amazon can help—one adventure at a time. Learn more about Our Whole Village: