The Amazon and its rivers


The Amazon isn’t only one river but it’s a network of smaller ones which add up to its final size. Most of the time, the feeding rivers are not known to a broader population.

Within the Amazon, the waters vary considerably. The smaller rivers have their spring in distinct areas around the Amazon, therefore their water carries different materials. As a result, the color of the rivers differs as you can see on the photo. The most famous spot to see this is close to Manaus, where the Rio Solimoes and the Rio Negro meet. Brazilians call it the “Encontrão das águas” and it is also the start of the Amazon River.

The Rio Solimões is one of the rivers originating in the Andes, the western areas of the Amazon. Due to their heights, the water is faster and erosion higher. The solid material, which the water cuts out of the mountains, gives the water a brown color like clay or coffee. The material is full of nutrients, so that life in and around the river can prosper, which also makes Malaria a common disease in the region. These rivers with their “Agua branca” are important for nature and agriculture alike.

The rivers of the north carry “Agua prêta” which contain a material of the “Guyana shield”, a 500-million-year-old type of rock. As a result of more humic material in the water, the color is somewhere between dark green, dark red and dark brown. The best-known river is the Rio Negro. The water of these rivers has a low PH value of around 2.5. Life around them is difficult. On the other hand, it is a good place for tourists as the water is clear and there are only a few mosquitos around. Their larvae cannot survive well in this type of water.

The last type of Amazon rivers is the “Agua clara” and the most famous ones are the Rio Tapajóz and the Rio Xingú, which start in the southern mountain areas of Brazil. The water is only carrying few washed out materials which make its color yellow to light greenish. You can see down to a distance of up to 4 meters which explain the name “clear water” and makes it spectacular for divers.

As you can see the rivers are not really similar to each other – and that makes them so special. The different material not only changes the color, but also the temperature as well as the density of the water. Therefore the rivers don’t mix right away but move next to each other clearly distinguishably.

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