UHCL student shares experiences traveling to Amazon River, entering rainforest

July 18, 2022 | UHCL Staff


Nineteen environmental science and biology students from University of Houston-Clear Lake, led by Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Cindy Howard, traveled to the Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil to study the rainforest and research the wildlife and ecology in the region.

Jeffrey Fato, who is pursuing his double Master of Science in Environmental Science and Environmental Management, shared his experiences from the first moments of setting foot in the Amazon rainforest.

"We traveled northeast along a tributary to the Rio Negro and arrived at Lago Jarad" Fato said. "Disembarking from our boat, we traveled a short distance until our canoes hit land for the first time this trip. After five days of sightseeing either in the main boat or canoes or walking on the concrete of Manaus, our boots landed firmly on mud, leaf matter, and fallen wood of the rainforest proper."

Howard, who has led over 50 UH-Clear Lake study groups to the Amazon over the last 30 years, said trips were planned around the interests of the group, and that this group would be hiking, and completing independent research studies.

Fato said that seeing the rainforest from the water was beautiful, but entering the forest was spectacular.

"The catharsis of finally engaging in the senses beyond sight and sound was jubilant, almost sensory overload," he said. "Understanding the existence and necessity of wild nature is one thing, but the appreciation that is earned by experiencing one of the most biodiverse habitats in the world in person, words alone do it little justice. That being said, we turned a 20-minute hike to the sandy campina beyond the tree line into an almost two-hour hike, and we barely scratched the surface of the nature to be observed there."

Any student, regardless of degree program, may apply to participate on a future research trip to the Amazon. Scholarships are available.

For more information about UHCL's Education Abroad programs, go online.