The Atlantic Forest crests along the horizon, bobbing in and out of misty clouds in emerald green lumps above the sea. I trace its irregular contours from a water taxi as we cut through waves alongside Guiana dolphins, traveling from the Brazilian town of Cananéia to a state park on Cardoso Island. Cardoso has six communities of Caiçaras—subsistence farmers and fishermen whose culture (like Brazil’s itself) is a mix of European, African, and Indigenous influences. Otherwise, it’s a fantastically feral place full of marshes and mangroves, beaches and waterfalls, woodlands and estuaries.
I hike along a wooden boardwalk in search of regal egrets and flamboyant scarlet ibises. Deeper into Cardoso’s forest, brown howler monkeys fill the viscous air with their guttural moans. This, my guide Amanda Selivon explains, is how much of the Brazilian coast looked before Europeans arrived in the 1500s.
“The Atlantic Forest was destroyed at a moment when people didn’t really have a culture and consciousness that this natural resource could run out,” says Selivon, founder of the tour company EkoWays, which specializes in regenerative tourism in the Atlantic Forest. “Yet, it’s nearly as diverse as the better-known Amazon and actually has more species per square meter”… (continue reading at Condé Nast Traveler).