The world’s largest tropical rainforest is an exotic landscape of steamy undergrowth, towering canopies and twisting rivers home to a staggering bio-diversity. For many visitors, a trip to the Amazon can, at first, seem a little intimidating with thoughts of mosquitoes, unbearable humidity and wandering creepy crawlies. To ease you in, here’s our guide to what you should really expect of a visit to the Amazon rainforest.
1. It’s not as remote as you might think
Many of the popular accommodation options in the Amazon are easily reached from jungle outpost towns, such as Puerto Maldonado in Peru, which has a population of 110,000 with plenty of shops for necessary provisions. It may take the best part of an hour or two to reach the lodges further out but you’re still reasonably well-connected to civilisation. Most properties are also located on the edge of the river rather than deep in the jungle.
2. Accommodation is surprisingly comfortable
This will ultimately depend on what standard of accommodation you’ve opted for but many standard lodges feature large, individual bungalows with comfortable beds, plenty of blankets, seating areas and private en suite bathrooms with hot running water. Many are situated in private reserves and feature restaurants serving delicious meals, bars where you can indulge in jungle-inspired cocktails, game rooms for a round of table tennis, and even swimming pools where you can take a refreshing dip after excursions into the rainforest.
3. It is really humid…
With a tropical climate, the Amazon experiences hot and humid conditions throughout the year with little variation – the only change between the seasons tends to be the amount of rainfall. Make your visit more comfortable by choosing loose-fitting cotton clothing, which offers better breathability. And drink lots of water when you’re there.
4. …though it can also get surprisingly cold!
If visiting the Amazon between June and November the weather can be highly changeable with cool winds from the Andes bringing the temperature down enough to warrant taking a warm jumper or fleece with you. This atmospheric phenomenon is known locally as “The Friaje” and means that the mercury can drop as low as 5°C / 41°F for up to a day at a time. Pack layers so you’ll be prepared for all weather conditions.
5. You may not see much exotic wildlife…
The thick vegetation of the rainforest makes spotting animals much more difficult than, say, on the endless savanna of Africa when on safari. Not only that but the Amazon’s wildlife change their habits depending on the weather so if it’s cooler with more wind, they’ll stay undercover and stay away from the water sources. Add to this the distinct lack of visibility of the river itself thanks to the amount of silt in the waters and you may get to the end of your visit having seen little more than caiman, macaws and a few wild pigs. But don’t let this put you off – the Amazon experience is more than just what animals you are lucky enough to spot. Regardless of which individual animals you see, you’ll always feel the presence of the jungle’s wildlife from the howls of monkeys to the chipring of insects and morning song of the birds.
6. …but you’ll encounter plenty of mosquitoes
The hot and humid conditions of the rainforest are heaven for these pesky critters and it’s unlikely you’ll get through your visit without at least one bite. There are definitely ways to avoid being bitten – always wear long-sleeve tops and full length trousers, and apply insect repellent liberally. If the thought of dousing yourself in 50% DEET makes you uneasy, consider a natural alternative and the effective range of products offered by Incognito.
7. You’ll be travelling light
The majority of lodges have an office in whichever jungle town they’re closest to where you’ll leave your main backpack or suitcase. You’ll have the chance to transfer your necessary items into a smaller day bag or duffel bag that the operator can lend you. The reason for this is simple – the boats that get you to the lodge just don’t have the room to accommodate bulky luggage. Make sure you pack everything you need – suitable clothes, swimming costume, hat, sunglasses, underwear, waterproof outer layers, and any medication and toiletries you might use. You can also take a charger for your camera or phone as…
8. There will be electricity
Many lodges offer electricity between 5pm and 10pm, which means you can turn the lights on in your room and even charge the batteries of your electrical gear. During the day you’ll either be out exploring the jungle or the natural daylight will be enough to brighten the rooms and common areas. It’s always handy to have a torch or headlamp with you though so don’t forget to pack one.
Of course, facilities do depend on the part of the Amazon you’ve chosen to visit and the lodge you’re staying at, but in the more popular areas that cater for visitors, this gives a pretty reliable idea of what you can expect.
Now you know what to expect, get over there and experience the Amazon for yourself with our range of Peru group tours that include a two-night stay in the rainforest.