Measuring 325 meters (one more than the Eiffel Tower) the tallest structure built in South America is neither a skyscraper nor a communications antenna. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) in São Sebastião do Uatumã is a scientific outpost designed to study the relationship between the rainforest and the climate. From there, heading north to the Atlantic, there is only jungle.
1. This story begins with a 4-hour drive from Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, to the Balbina Dam, on the Uatumã River.
2. Amazonas is the largest state in Brazil, with 1.56 million km², but with just 3.8 million habitants, making it the second least densely populated Brazilian state, with only 2.5 habitants per km².
3. Abandoned boat on the banks of the Uatumã River, near the Balbina Dam.
4. Boats are an important part of the social, cultural and economic relations in the Amazon region. In many places, they are the only means of transporting people, cargo and information.
5. With characteristics that can vary a lot, the boat is the main means of transport for communities in the Amazon region.
6. From the banks of the Uatumã River, near the Balbina Dam, it's a 2-hour boat ride to the bank near the ATTO Tower.
7. About 20% of the population of the state of Amazonas lives in rural areas and the vast majority of them live along riverbanks. The riverside population takes an average of 4 hours to reach the nearest urban center, in certain locations, according to data from the 'Health Survey In Riverine Communities in the Amazonas State'.
8. For many inhabitants of the Amazonas countryside, the river is the only way of circulating. They are streets, avenues, highways and shortcuts. Navigating them requires knowledge and experience since things can change from one rainy season to the next.
9. The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and its waters are no exception. In the Amazon basin there are three subspecies of river dolphins.
10. The Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis geoffrensis) is the largest subspecies of river dolphin. Adult males can reach up to 185 kg in weight, and 2.5 meter in length. Adults acquire a pink color, more prominent in males, giving it its nickname "pink river dolphin" (*boto cor-de-rosa* in Portuguese).
11. In traditional Amazon River folklore, an Amazon river dolphin becomes a handsome young man who seduces girls at night. He impregnates them, and then returns to the river in the morning to become a river dolphin again.
12. In Brazil it is common to find crosses on the side of the roads. They are often used to mark where someone has died in an accident. It is possible to assume that in the Amazon there is a similar practice, since rivers are the main transport routes of the region.
13. A tree taller than the others stands out in the forest along the banks of the Uatumã River.
14. Detail from driftwood.
15. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) was built in an already deforested area 13 km from the bank of the Uatumã River. The site was used for the illegal extraction of 'pau-rosa' (Aniba rosaeodora), an endangered species whose essential oil is used in the manufacture of perfumes. Before receiving the tower, the area was reforested.
16. The Amazon forest is very dense and very dark. Walking along narrow trails, you are certain that the slightest deviation can get you lost in the forest.
17. At about 225 meters from the tower it is already possible to see signs of its presence. From a concrete support anchor come the steel cables that stabilize the tower. They were all latched to the tower without a single tree being cut.
18. On the ground, the constant chorus of reptiles, birds and insects is occasionally interrupted by the sound of falling trees. From the fall, clearings emerge that illuminate the lower part of the forest.
19. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory is a guyed tower only 3 meters wide. It depends on guy lines (diagonal tensioned cables attached to the ground) for stability.
20. The tower has 108 flights of stairs and the full climb takes about an hour and a half to complete. The elevator was not operational yet at the time.
21. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory measures 325 meters (one more than the Eiffel Tower). The forest seems endless from the top.
22. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is a scientific outpost designed to study the relationship between the climate and the rainforest, measure the emission and absorption of greenhouse gases in the forest, study aerosols and investigate the transport of air masses over hundreds of kilometers.
23. As the canopy approaches, the air gets warmer and the noise of the forest gets louder. The shadow of clouds helps reveal the topography hidden under trees.
24. Going down 108 flights of stairs is faster, but more painful than going up.
25. From 325 meters to 30 cm high. The Amazon forest as seen from the top of a stump. An Amazonian microcosm.
'ATTO - Amazon Tall Tower Observatory' is a 25 1/1 photos collection of my visit to a scientific outpost in the heart of the Amazon. Floor price started at 0.06 and 10% of all proceeds, including future royalties, goes to NGOs helping preserve the Amazon forest and its indigenous population.