Quotes about Rivers for Intrepid Explorers

These Quotes about Rivers are from poets, writers, explorers and activists. They describe the way that rivers operate in human life, both in literal and metaphorical forms.

The Amazon is the longest river in the world and also the largest river by discharge volume and drainage basin area.

With about 7 million square kilometres, the Amazon basin is nearly twice as big as the Congo river basin.

“The Amazon is considered the world’s largest river by volume, but scientists have believed it is slightly shorter than Africa’s Nile. The Brazilian scientists’ 14-day expedition extended the Amazon’s length by about 176 miles (284 kilometers), making it 65 miles (105 kilometers) longer than the Nile.”

The Amazon crosses Peru (headwaters), Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil (mouth). It flows into the Atlantic Ocean, with a plume that extends some 160 km beyond the coastline.

The Amazon river system has more than 1,000 significant tributaries, with 6 of them that are more than 1,600 kilometres long.

The Amazon river length, measured from the source in Mount Mismi (Arequipa, Peru), is 6,800 kilometres.

The Amazon is the largest river system in the world, with a surface area of 6,879,761 square kilometres, and an annual discharge of 220,000 cubic kilometres per second, which amounts to 20% of the water that runs off Earth’s surface.

Quotes about Rivers

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

– Heraclitus

Quotes about rivers in Iceland
Icelandic wtaer ©Rolands Varsbergs

“Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.”

– Jorge Luis Borges

“I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives with you. I don’t think it’s true of people who’ve grown up in cities so much; you may love a building, but I don’t think that you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth; it’s a different kind of love.”

– Arundhati Roy

Lessons learned from living in the woods

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

– Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it and Other Stories

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”

– Laura Gilpin, Quotes about Rivers

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“The river is everywhere.”

– Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“I like geography best, he said, because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.”

– Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas

“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”

– Emma Smith

“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”

– David Brower

“We may be floating on Tao, but there is nothing wrong with steering. If Tao is like a river, it is certainly good to know where the rocks are.”

– Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony

“A good river is nature’s life work in song.”

– Mark Helprin, Freddy and Fredericka

Check out these great nature quotes

“From the dim regions beyond the mountains at the upper end of our encircled domain, there crept out a narrow and deep river, brighter than all save the eyes of Eleonora; and, winding stealthily about in mazy courses, it passed away, at length, through a shadowy gorge, among hills still dimmer than those whence it had issued. We called it the “River of Silence”; for there seemed to be a hushing influence in its flow.

No murmur arose from its bed, and so gently it wandered along, that the pearly pebbles upon which we loved to gaze, far down within its bosom, stirred not at all, but lay in a motionless content, each in its own old station, shining on gloriously forever.”

– Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

“I have an immoderate passion for water; for the sea, though so vast, so restless, so beyond one’s comprehension; for rivers, beautiful, yet fugitive and elusive; but especially for marshes, teeming with all that mysterious life of the creatures that haunt them.

A marsh is a whole world within a world, a different world, with a life of its own, with its own permanent denizens, its passing visitors, its voices, its sounds, its own strange mystery.”

– Guy de Maupassant, The House of Madame Tellier and Other Stories

“I was born upon thy bank, river,

My blood flows in thy stream,

And thou meanderest forever

At the bottom of my dream.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“When the river meets the ocean, the memories of the river meet the memories of the ocean. These two different worlds have many stories to tell each other!”

– Mehmet Murat ildan

“The headlong stream is termed violent

But the river bed hemming it in

Is termed violent by no one.”

– Bertolt Brecht, Quotes about Rivers

“The hard path is often the right one. The river teaches more than the shore.”

– Maxime Lagacé

“A river that feeds a village is better than an ocean that merely decorates an island.”

– Matshona Dhliwayo

River between rocks and trees.
Into the wild ©Victor Sutty

“A calm ocean is never afraid of a raging river.”

– Matshona Dhliwayo, Quotes about Rivers

“It is easier to sail a calm ocean than to conquer a turbulent river.”

– Matshona Dhliwayo

“You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.”

– Paulo Coelho

“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”

– Ross Perot, Quotes about Rivers

“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”

Marcus Aurelius


A river is a ribbon-like body of water that flows downhill from the force of gravity. A river can be wide and deep, or shallow enough for a person to wade across. A flowing body of water that is smaller than a river is called a stream, creek, or brook.

Some rivers flow year-round, while others flow only during certain seasons or when there has been a lot of rain.

Nature Quotes

The largest rivers can be thousands of miles long. The erosional power of rivers can form geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon.

All rivers have a starting point where water begins its flow. This source is called a headwater. The headwater can come from rainfall or snowmelt in mountains, but it can also bubble up from groundwater or form at the edge of a lake or large pond.

Winding waters ©Jamie MacPhearson

The other end of a river is called its mouth, where water empties into a larger body of water, such as a lake or ocean. Along the way, rivers may pass through wetlands where plants slow down the water and filter out pollutants.

The water that flows in rivers is fresh, meaning that it contains less than one percent salt. However, rivers still carry and distribute important salts and nutrients to support plant and animal life. For this reason, some of the most biodiverse habitats on our planet can be found around rivers.

Collectively, scientists estimate that all the rivers in the world carry about 3.6 billion metric tons (four billion tons) of salt from land to the ocean each year.

Rivers can also form what is called an estuary, where salty seawater mixes with fresh water near the river mouth to form “brackish water.” 

The Hudson River in New York, U.S., is an example of an estuary where brackish water extends more than 241 kilometres (150 miles) upstream.

Fast-flowing rivers carry pebbles, sand, and silt. As the river begins to slow down—as in a wetland, at the outside of a bend, or where the river widens, such as at the mouth—these sediments sink and build up to form deltas.

Rivers that overflow their banks also deposit sediment in the surrounding flood plain. These deltas and floodplains are highly fertile agricultural zones that offer tremendous value to the surrounding people.

In Egypt, for example, the Nile River and its adjacent delta helped give rise to the Egyptian empire that built the pyramids.

Today, farmers in the flood plain of California’s Central Valley produce approximately one-third of the vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts consumed in the United States.

Humans use rivers for irrigation in agriculture, for drinking water, for transportation, to produce electricity through hydroelectric dams, and for leisure activities like swimming and boating. Each of these uses can affect the health of a river and its surrounding ecosystems.

Monitoring the health of rivers, lakes, and streams is important work that is conducted by scientists called limnologists.

Quotes about Rivers

If you enjoyed these quotes about rivers then check out these hiking or climbing quotes.