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🇬🇧 Who was Henry Bates – and why he is so important for the Brazilian Amazon

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

British naturalist Henry Bates navigated for 11 years in the Amazon – and ended up at Mamirauá Reserve

In 2019 the Uakari Lodge launches the program “In the Footsteps of Henry Bates”, when we start showing our guests Mamirauá Reserve and the city of Tefé by the look of this a British naturalist who was in the region in the mid-nineteenth century. But who was Henry Bates?

This explorer spent 11 years of his life navigating the rivers and making inroads in the Amazonian forests from the region of Belém, ascending the entire Amazon River and arriving in the region where Mamirauá Reserve and the city of Tefé are located – which by then was called Ega, name given by Portuguese colonizers and missionaries who at this time still disputed the area with Spaniards.

Bates spent about 5 years in this region. He was the first researcher to document several species of Brazilian fauna (it is estimated that about 8,000 specimens never before documented had been taken to London after his trip). Among these specimens of fauna recently documented is the red-faced-uakari-monkey – whose description made the curiosity of the primatologist Márcio Ayes, at the end of the 21st century , dedicate his researches on the animal of unique physiognomy. With this re-visit, Márcio Ayres ended up discovering a very rich region (for its communities, fauna and flora) and was responsible for leading the movement to create a conservation unit on the outskirts of Mamirauá Lake – where today Uakari Lodge is located.

Ega became the basis for exploring the outskirts of Lake Tefé. He ended up documenting a lot about the day-to-day life of the village, its characters, the indigenous communities at the mouth of the Rio Tefé and the Amazonian customs of the time. His travel notebooks resulted in the publication of the 2-volume book entitled “A Naturalist on the River Amazons”, which is still a reference for the Mamirauá Institute scientists in their research and incursions into the forests of the region. Some of the accounts of Henry Bates were central to the support of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

In this new itinerary of Uakari Lodge, we took the Bates’ book and transformed it into a script to visit both Mamirauá Reserve and the city of Tefé – now also part of the Lodge’s itineraries. We look at the two destinations from the perspective of the important British naturalist who dedicated his life and ventured in the name of science to document how rich the Brazilian Amazon is.


For information on the program “In the footsteps of Henry Bates” see our website and contact us here!


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