For many of us the Amazon basin is a long way off and even once you get there on an expensive flight you will have to contend with stifling humidity and several insects.
But lovers of the world's largest rainforest can now visit the tropical paradise from the comfort of home, via Google Street View. Using its own free online maps service you can now explore a 30-mile stretch of the Rio Negro, the largest tributary of the Amazon and the longest blackwater river in the world.
Google used a camera mounted on a tricycle, then mounted on a boat, then snapped more than 50,000 images down a 30-mile stretch of the black jungle river. Google then stitched the images together and have now embedded them into its Google Maps service.
There are some stunning 360 degree shots of the river showing spectacular rainforest tracks, waterfalls, small riverside villages and flooded dense forests. In the Mail it reports, Google Street View Amazon project leader Karin Tuxen-Bettman:
Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded.
Enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail and see where Brazil nuts are harvested. You can even see a forest critter if you look hard enough. Many areas of the Amazon, including Rio Negro Reserve, are under the protection of the Brazilian government with restricted access to the public, so we hope that this Street View collection provides access to this special corner of the planet that many of us otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to experience.
The extensive catalogue of Google Street View's photography has already taken us to the Antarctica and the Vatican City in Rome.
Google donated its photography equipment to an Amazon rainforest charity so they can continue to document the enrivons of the Amazon.