Visiting the Amazon rain forest while in South America is an absolute must do and one of the most accessible places to do so in is Peru. Of course, it’s a bit daunting if all you’re picturing is movies like Anaconda and while you will encounter wild animals, you’re staying with locals and trained professionals so don’t be too concerned! Just because you won’t be eaten by a wild animal however doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to look out for hence this practical guide with lots of tips for visiting the Amazon! So read on for some of the things you need to know before visiting the Amazon.
#1 The boat ride to and from is rough
Depending on where in the jungle you’re staying, odds are that you’re going to have to take a speed boat to and from. Our boat ride was about 1.5-2 hours each way and it was definitely a difficult boat ride. The boat travels incredibly fast to get you where you need to go and the wind quite literally slaps you in the face. My recommendation is to be prepared for a long ride with some kind of entertainment (book for example), to tie your hair up if applicable and to wear some layers you can use for protection!
#2 Odds are that you will get wet
It’s not called the Amazon Rain Forest for no reason, so odds are that at some point during your visit to the jungle there is a chance that you will get rained on. It’s hard to predict and even those people who live in the jungle can’t always tell when rain is coming so the more prepared you are for the rain the better. Most lodges will provide rain boots and I’d also strongly recommend a rain jacket but even while wearing one we got soaked straight through so they’re not exactly fool proof which brings me to my next point.
#3 Bring lots of clothes + layers
The weather in the Amazon is hot and it’s sticky. When we were in Peru in early October of this year, Cusco and Lima were hovering somewhere between 15-20 degrees Celsius in the day time and like 5-10 degrees Celsius in the evenings/nights but the Amazon was over 35 degrees with 80%+ humidity every day. Even non-strenuous walks had us sweating through our clothes and that doesn’t even take into account getting completely drenched in the boats. I was easily going through 2-3 sets of outfits a day and had definitely not packed enough outfits for this portion of the trip. I had mainly packed t-shirts and leggings keeping mostly the humidity and head in mind, completely forsaking the rain! This also doesn’t account for the fact that you do need layers in the evening as it gets a bit chillier but also for protection. There’s lots of bugs around and the sun is incredibly strong so long pants and long sleeve shirts are a must! Another reason I strongly suggest bringing a couple of extra pieces of clothing for the jungle is because nothing will really dry. It’s so incredibly humid that the clothes we hung out to dry after being rained on were still damp when we had to pack to leave! Safe to say we couldn’t use those again during our stay.
#4 Bring snacks!
While we had zero problems with the food in our lodge (it was seriously so yummy!) that may not be the case for all eaters. Some of you may be pickier and may have dietary restrictions and given how isolated you are it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the food. I’d recommend bringing a couple of snacks like granola bars, cookies or chocolate before you come in the Amazon. Our lodge provided 3 hearty meals a day so we were more than satisfied but it was nice to have the back-up option in case we did not enjoy one of the meals. This of course brings me to my next point.
#5 Bring something to carry your garbage
To me it goes without saying that when you’re in nature, littering shouldn’t be a thing. But that it even needs to be said is sad to me. When we were on one of our boat excursions we came across the below pile of wood that sadly contained so much garbage! It makes me sad that this piece of nature that’s so majestic and contains SO much biodiversity can still be littered in. People are obviously making a conscious choice to come to visit here to partake in all this nature but yet this is the result. So without becoming very preachy, please make sure to take back all your garbage with you whether that’s in your bag or in a plastic bag you’re carrying.
Visiting the Amazon is pretty much the perfect way to disconnect from the real world especially since there’s no connection to cell networks what so ever. And while ideally you’d totally disconnect from the outside world I’m a huge fan of falling asleep to my Netflix shows so millennial as I am, I can’t really disconnect 100%.
While there is electricity and running water in most lodges there aren’t any wall plugs to recharge your electronics with which is obviously totally understandable. We were provided with a battery that we could recharge phones with however so there are back-ups in case you don’t have an external battery.
Unbeknownst to me however, the batteries they do provide to charge your electronics are not great for your phone so do not charge your phone directly through them. The voltage is too strong. Instead charge your external battery if needed!
If for some reason you thought that the Amazon would not have bugs I’m here to tell you that it most certainly does. There’s a couple of things you can do to not be bothered by them. First, wear bug spray. Like, lots of it. I made the mistake of not wearing it to breakfast ONE morning and probably got 6-7 bites but didn’t even notice the bugs the rest of the time when I was wearing the spray. Second, make sure that your mosquito net completely covers your bed when you go to sleep at night so that you can avoid waking up to something crawling all over you.
Most of the bugs will leave you alone but they will be all over the place, including inside the rooms so if you’re super squeamish about bugs it could take a little bit of getting used to but do remember that most of them are harmless.
#8 Be careful where you walk
Given that most of the lodges are in the middle of the jungle you’ll be walking to and from the common areas and your bedroom which means you do have to walk through nature. There’s plenty of tree roots, low hanging branches and dips in the ground around and since the closest hospitals is hours away, twisting your ankle or walking straight into a tree isn’t the best situation.
This doesn’t even account for going on your jungle walks where you could accidentally walk into nets like below if you’re not paying attention!
#9 Don’t sit out anything!
If you’re like and my friends, you work full-time jobs and probably only had a week or two for your trip to Peru meaning you probably could only afford to spend a couple of days in the jungle. With that being said, don’t sit anything out! The different excursions, different meals and different scenery will all take your breath away so if you sit one out you may end up missing it. I sat out one night walk because I was sick coming into the jungle and it’s one of my hugest regrets from the trip! We also said that we’d go star gazing the second night instead of the first one and of course there was a giant storm and no visibility the second night so we didn’t get to and that is one of my absolute worst regrets of the trip and I will regret for a long time that we didn’t just do it that first night. But that’s one of the problems with travelling for shorter period of times, you have to bite the bullet for the things you want to see immediately!
#10 Manage your expectations
Seeing animals is fantastic and probably one of the reasons you even wanted to go into the Amazon right? The problem is that you’re trying to see animals in the wild and despite how much you paid for it or how much you want to see the animals they don’t cater to your wishes. No reputable lodge is going to guarantee you an animal sighting because there’s no way for them to control that unless they’re keeping animals in cages which unfortunately some of the lodges appear to be doing. This is of course not something you want to support so please try to do your research on your lodge ahead of time.
Back to my main point, the guides and lodges try their best to get you around as many animals as possible but be realistic with your expectations. Of course seeing anacondas and jaguars up close would be super cool but it isn’t always realistic. We were happy with what we saw including this wild dolphin!
#11 Better safe than sorry
My final tip for visiting the Amazon is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. This comes to preparing for the trip and for during the trip. We got the yellow fever vaccine in addition to a malaria prescription and while our guide said he didn’t think it was necessary for the area that we were in I definitely felt a lot better having it than not having had it. You’re also going to read a lot of conflicting information online on what is safe and isn’t safe and while I stress that you shouldn’t go into the jungle super worried (i.e looking up how to escape a jaguar probably isn’t necessary) it is important to stay alert and to not wander off into the jungle on your own. You have a guide for a reason so ask as many questions as you want to!