Tropical Rainforest Ecology in the Amazon

May 2011 Open to Alumni

For those interested in going to the Peruvian Amazon in May 2011, here's our report from May 2007.

This course will consist of approximately 6 campus class days of orientation to tropical rainforest ecology followed by two weeks of study at 3 field sites along the Amazon and Rio Napo Rivers in Peru.  Instructors are Dr. Carl Colson and Dr. Kathy Gregg.

The major emphasis of the course will be to study the interrelationships of the plants, animals, and to some extent the peoples, living in the Amazon rainforest.  We will take boat trips to observe birds, freshwater dolphins (pink and gray), and piranhas (which we will catch and eat).  We’ll walk on a "foot bridge" 120 feet above the forest floor to observe the great diversity of orchids, bromeliads, birds, lizards, and butterflies seldom seen from the forest floor.  You will see a variety of exotic birds (including toucans, macaws, parrots) and monkeys  (saddleback tamarin, pigmy marmoset, and dusky titi).  Along the trails we will observe diverse and often bizarre insects such as brilliantly colored morpho butterflies, army ants, leaf cutter ants, and brilliantly colored and highly toxic poison arrow frogs. We will visit Yagua Indian villages and the Ribereños (river people), visit a "bush doctor" and his medicinal garden, and more!

The sites are Explorama Lodge, a seasonally flooded site, which is about 50 miles down the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru; ExplorNapo Lodge, an upland rainforest site, located another 50 miles downstream on the Napo river; and the ACTS (Amazon Conservatory of Tropical Studies), a biological research station.  Each of these lodges has a number of rustic, but comfortable two person rooms as well as shower facilities, a hammock room, dining area, and snack bar.  We will probably spend our last night at Ceiba Tops which is a luxury lodge on the Amazon (air conditioning, swimming pool, etc.) about 20 miles from Iquitos.   We will have a Ribereño guide who will travel with us throughout our stay, facilitate our activities, and guide us to more remote sites in the rainforest and along the river system.

Take a look at that has photos and videos of WVWC students during our May Term 2009 Amazon course.  To learn more about the Explorama sites and see photos of facilities and Amazon wildlife visit their web site at  Look especially at the Photo Gallery and the Ceiba Tops pages, where there are some great pictures.  For more details email Dr. Gregg at