Named after female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazon is itself a place of near-mythical status. What traveler drawn to the wild places of the planet hasn't imagined a trip to the Amazon, not only to admire the towering trees, secretive wildlife and awesome river, but to enter, in a real sense, the very life spring of the planet? Expecting a Discovery Channel–like experience (jaguars in every tree, anacondas on every shore) is a recipe for disappointment. In fact, the Amazon’s quintessential experiences are more sublime than superlative: canoeing through a flooded forest, dozing in a hammock on a boat chugging upriver, waking to the otherworldly cry of howler monkeys. On a river whose size is legendary, it’s actually the little things that make it special. Give it some time, and the Amazon is all this and more.