This is a guest article contributed by Gloria.
There is no denying that there are plenty of places around the world that will wow you with their presence, but the Amazon Rainforest is a whole different beast.
It’s the Earth’s largest rainforest, and there’s a lot going on at any point. It’s bigger than both the Congo Basin and Indonesia combined, and the Amazon Basin covers around 40 percent of South America.
There are plenty of reasons why you would want to visit the Amazon rainforest, from the opportunity to spot endemic animals like the pink dolphins to experiencing the stunning combination of tranquility and adrenaline rushes that few other places can offer. And if you’re considering doing this anytime soon, we’ve got a complete guide that should give you a good idea of what to expect.
When Should You Take the Trip?
The first thing that’s important is to plan your trip well in advance. The Amazon rainforest is exceptionally large and things are changing constantly. The recommended time to visit is in the low-water season, which is from July, through December. These are also the months when you have most people visiting, so if you want to go at this time, make sure you make your reservations well in advance and be prepared for price spikes.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could visit during May or early June. This is still considered high-water season, and you’ll get some unique opportunities, such as canoeing or kayaking because you have much better river accessibility. This also means that more of the forest’s areas are open for exploring, and you have fewer people to get in the way. The prices are lower, too, and you have more accommodation options to choose from as well.
Which Places Should You Visit?
Due to its sheer size, you can’t possibly cover the entire Amazon rainforest, however, there are places that you will want to visit first. While Brazil, being home to about 60% of the Amazon basin, is usually the prime spot, there are a few other countries that you should consider.
Guyana, even though it has only 3% of the Amazon rainforest, it is actually home to one of the last unspoiled stretches. As much as 80% of the land is virgin tropical rainforest, thanks to the Amerindian community that works hard to preserve the forest with conservation projects. The things you’ll be able to experience include giant river otters, tapir, black caiman, and over 800 species of birds. It’s also the prime spot on the Amazon if you’re looking for an elusive jaguar.
Tours in the Amazon
Colombia and it’s 8% of the Amazon rainforest are other options. You will find infrastructure in a few places, like Leticia, the capital of the Amazonas Department, as well as in the nearby vicinity of the meeting point of Colombia, Brazil, and Peruvian borders. However, everything else is untouched. This is where you’ll find those pink dolphins we mentioned, by swimming in the Tarapoto Lake. There are also over 468 species of birds, many of which are truly stunning.
Most travelers prefer to visit Peruvian Amazon. Covering more than half of Peru, the Peruvian Amazon is the easiest one to access. Moreover, the Peruvian Amazon is home to the famous Pacaya Samiria National Reserve where you get to witness the spectacle of the largest protected flooded forest in the world. Here, tourists can spot Amazon’s most famous plant, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, and mammal species.
Last but not least, there is Venezuela, a place that has over 18 million hectares of rainforest. And surprisingly, this is also where you’ll find one of the lowest deforestation rates because most of the area is unexploited and untouched. Part of the reason for this is because getting there isn’t easy, but the culture in Venezuela is also partly to blame – they care about the rainforest quite a bit.
Accommodation – River Cruise or a Jungle Lodge?
Like with anything else in travel, this comes down to personal preference.
Let’s kick things off with a river cruise, which has one notable advantage – mobility. This is key, especially during high-water season, because you can explore a much greater area and see the different ecosystems within the rainforest. Many of them tend to come with organized excursions that are onshore, and allow you to explore deeper during the day, and go back to your cabin and sleep in the evening.
Depending on where you want to go (and when you’re going), there is a range of cruise types available. If you want to follow narrow waters and explore the deeper parts of the Amazon river, you should go for smaller tourist boats. However, you don’t have many of the luxuries that the larger boats have. These will often give you an experience that’s close to a five-star hotel, and you may find things like air conditioning and gourmet food.
In cases of visiting such remote and possibly dangerous regions, luxury mostly refers to extremely high safety measures and highly experienced guides that will help you make the most of your trip on the Amazon. Moreover, luxury means safe cruising and organized excursions that will take you deep in the heart of the jungle. The cruise choice is a matter of personal preference (and budget), but you can’t go wrong if you decide to experience Amazonia from water.
A jungle lodge is the other option, and it’s more oriented towards offering an immersive experience at the cost of mobility. The lodges tend to be in close proximity to wildlife reserves, or within one, and are surrounded by the sounds and sights of the jungle. They’ll give you an opportunity to live in the wilderness for a few days, and you can use the guided excursions to explore the rainforest. If you want better wildlife sightings, you’ll want to opt for the more remote lodges.
To make the most of it, you should stay for at least three days. Depending on the time of your visit, you’ll usually find both luxury options, and more budget-oriented ones.
Are There Any Potential Dangers?
While there is certainly incredible wildlife, the most dangerous thing that can happen to you in the Amazon rainforest is for you to get sick. The mosquitoes that carry malaria and yellow fever are what you want to be careful with because both are serious illnesses. This is why it’s key that you get the appropriate vaccinations before you go on your trip.
To add to this, the local food and water are something to be cautious of. Even though it is relatively clean, they might have different strains of bacteria and microorganisms. The immune system of a person who doesn’t live there isn’t used to them, which might lead to diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, stick to bottled water and fresh, properly washed food.
What Should You Pack?
Visiting the Amazon rainforest is pretty different from most other vacations or trips you can make, so packing for such an experience is something you should be prepared for. Some things you will want to leave at home, while others are a must for anyone.
Pack in a backpack, or a suitcase that you can manage easily. You don’t need a lot of things, so aim for quality, not quantity. In addition, have a small daypack that you can take with you when you’re out on excursions – you don’t want to drag your entire suitcase all the time.
For walking, you need either sturdy shoes or a pair of hiking boots. Since it’s a rainforest, you should also grab a pair of sandals, or other shoes that you wouldn’t mind getting wet. The more comfortable, the better.
One thing you should be aware of is that a wallet will make you a prime target for pickpockets when you’re in the city. To prevent this, either get a pouch, or a money belt, and leave your wallet at home. And of course, don’t take all your money with you when you’re in the city.
If you’re prone to sickness, make sure you have any personal medications you could need on hand, and keep them at a safe location.
Last but not least, clothing. Even though the Amazon is generally quite hot, you should keep in mind that if it rains in the evening, it cools down quite a bit, and quite quickly. Layers work best here, and you’ll want a water-resistant jacket that keeps you warm.
All things considered, visiting the Amazon rainforest can be the experience of a lifetime, as long as you keep the things we mentioned above in mind. Make sure you pick the right time to visit, plan your time there well, and be prepared for anything that might happen. Packing is simple as long as you keep a few critical things at hand, too