Get ready to see pristine jungles and hear noises that you’ve never heard before. You’ll interact with people whose traditions come directly from their long relationship with the jungle, and who eat fruit that seems to originate from another planet. You’ll experience the beauty and heat of the jungle during the day, and the sounds of the jungle at night, when the bugs and Amazon singers come out. Travel to the Amazon will be the trip of your life and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, but you’ll need to come prepared. Here’s our guide on how best to prepare for your Amazon Rainforest Trip.
Do Some Exercise
If you plan on doing some trekking, you’re going to need to be in good shape, especially if you’re carrying a heavy pack, so start running and doing some pushups now. The jungle heat and humidity are no joke and will wear you out when hiking during the heat of the day. It’s best to hike early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the oppressive midday jungle heat.
Arrange Jungle Tours
I love discovering things independently as much as the next person, but when in the Amazon rainforest, do not go exploring by yourself. Seriously, just don’t. The Amazon is too dense and it is way too easy to get lost there and never be found. Exploring with someone knowledgeable is more fun. They know the rainforest’s ins and outs. They can identify dangerous plants and show where to spot wildlife. Remember, safety first, always!
Most retreats and tour operators will offer day trips in the jungle that are less stressful than doing it solo, as they assist with equipment and handle water and lunch for you. These day trips are more than doable, even in the jungle heat. The more difficult treks are multiple day hikes, but even then, your guide will assist with carrying gear and water.
Sort Out Your Clothing
It is possible to minimize the clothing you need to bring to the lodge. Have a “night-time” set of dry clothes at the lodge. You can change into these in the evening after each day’s activities. And having a “day-time” set of clothes that you re-use each day when you go out on the various daily activities.
It can’t be stressed enough: the jungle is hot! This means that when you come to the Amazon, you’ll want lightweight clothing that breathes well. Breathability is a big deal because otherwise you really feel suffocated by your clothing. Tank tops are nice; bring plenty of T-shirts, too, because you’ll be going through a lot – you’ll sweat more than you thought possible.
At night, especially during rainstorms, it can get cool. While you don’t want to bring heavy jackets with you – you won’t use them and they’ll be a waste of space – it is a good idea to bring a light jacket, preferably a waterproof one.
It rains a lot in the Amazon, no matter what season you visit in. Because of the constant rain, trails and treks will be very muddy. Don’t bring your favorite shoes, unless you want them covered in mud. It’s best to bring hiking boots of some sort, or you can purchase rain boots in most Amazon cities for only 20 or 30 soles (US$6–9).
We’ll say it again: the Amazon is hot! And you’ll constantly be sweating. Before you arrive to your Amazon Rainforest Trip, make sure that you’ve been drinking plenty of fluids and are well hydrated. The first couple of days will be difficult while you get acclimatized to the heat, but after that you’ll be fine, just as long as you are constantly drinking water.
Prepare Your Diet
If you’re headed to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca with a shaman, you need to prepare weeks in advance by eating la dieta. If you’re going to the jungle and are unsure whether you’ll be drinking ayahuasca, it is important to still follow the diet, just in case mother ayahuasca comes calling to you. At least two weeks before you drink the brew, you should avoid pork, salt, fermented foods such as yogurt and soy sauce, spicy foods, refined sugar and caffeine – also, no sex for those two weeks. It is very important to follow this diet in order to get the most out of your experience.
Prepare for the Amazon Diseases
Even if you have a steel like immune system, the Amazon is definitely no picnic when it comes to matters of health and hygiene. The Amazon’s waters are full of parasites and amoebas. These can severely affect your Western immune system. This can result in symptoms like vomit, fever, and diarrhea or even more serious ailments like dysentery, typhoid, and cholera. They can also provoke acute diseases, including fatal ones like Chagas Disease.
Ask a travel doctor which vaccinations you need before travelling – and make sure you do this at least a month in advance. I got Yellow Fever and Tetanus shots before leaving New Zealand. In reality, there are a lot of relevant shots which you can (and should) get.
There is no vaccination for malaria. It is recommended to take malaria tablets for at least two weeks before your trip and for at least four weeks after leaving. This will prevent you from picking up the disease.
Make sure you buy a strong repellent. Be sure to ask before you buy if it is effective against malaria mosquitos. Spray it on your whole body before you get dressed and then spray some over top of your clothes, too.
Try to avoid mosquitos as much as possible. If you can use a mosquito net etc, even better. If you’re going to be spending time inside the jungle, be aware that there are huge quantities of mosquitos, especially at night time.