Are you the kind of person who likes to dive into the literature about a certain place before you visit it? I am. As I am preparing for my second visit to the Brazilian Amazon, I am going back to some favorites and discovering some new reads.

Walking the Jungle: An Adventurer’s Guide to the Amazon, by John Coningham, contains many of the stories Dad (the author) would tell me, my brother and my sisters, about his narrow escapes in the Amazon jungle of the 1970’s. Dad lived in the Amazon while he worked in the construction of the many bridges required by the highway that became known as the Transamazonica.

The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard, narrates the amazing expedition co-led by Theodore Roosevelt and Brazilian explorer Marshall Candido Rondon down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River. The full journey, completed from December 12, 1913, through April 26, 1914, depicts the Amazon of the early 20th century.

Through the Brazilian Wilderness, by Theodore Roosevelt, is TR’s own account of what he called “a zoo-geographic reconnaissance through the Brazilian hinterland” in 1913. It is interesting to have his own perspective on this expedition, which has been narrated by several others.

Up the Creek: An Amazon Adventure, by contemporary British explorer John Harrison, is a wonderful account of the latest of his seven canoe trips through the Amazon and provides great insight into the current day remote rain forest.

The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir, by ex-president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, is an intriguing narrative of the political and social circumstances through which the author led the incredible transformation that put Brazil in the list of top emerging economies in the 21st century.

The Bridge at Paranamucu: Drama in the Opening of the Trans-Amazon Highway, by John Coningham, is a fictional tale embedded in the history of the Trans-Amazon, a much controversial engineering endeavor.

The Lost City of Z, by David Grann, is nothing less than a non-fiction adventure thriller! How much better can it get!

One River, by Wade Davis, takes place in the Colombian portion of the Amazon where Davis began his long career of botanical and anthropological explorations.

The Mapmaker’s Wife, by Robert Whitaker, is the true love story of Jean Godin, a Frenchman on a scientific mission to the Amazon, and Isabel Gramesón, a Peruvian noblewoman, in the mid-1700s. The story develops in the Amazon’s jungles, as Isabel fights to reunite with Jean after a twenty-year separation. A remarkable narrative of love, survival and exploration.

Happy reading and do let me know if you have more suggestions for this list!

Please note the header photo is a courtesy of

Beatriz Coningham

Beatriz Coningham

Why write about travel? Travel and exploration have always fascinated me. I marvel at history’s navigators and explorers who expanded the frontiers of the world and of human existence.

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