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What to pack for a visit to the jungle

The Amazon is a wonderous place teeming with exotic flora and fauna. It’s one of South America’s most iconic destinations. The tropical rainforest spans from the cloud forests of the foothills of the Andes to the Atlantic forests of Brazil’s East coast. The steamy port city of Manaus, once of the centre of the rubber tapping boom and is home to the famous Teatro Amazonas opera house.  Belem, the coastal Amazon city lies on the banks of the Amazon River as it flows out to sea. In the rainforest, you can stay with indigenous locals in they thatched villages or in one of the few boutique luxury wildlife lodges.

It all makes for an extraordinary adventure, but it’s also hot and humid.  A question we always get asked is:  What to pack for the jungle? It’s an important one that can make the difference between a fun, wildlife-packed holiday or a miserable insect-bitten one. In the Amazon, pack thoughtfully to have a comfortable adventure. Many of the lodges have provisions for you to use, but it’s worth bringing at least the following.

Clothing

One of the most important aspects of your packing lit is what you’re going to wear. When hiking through the jungle, it’s a good idea to wear long trousers and tops to protect your arms.  We recommend clothes made from a breathable material e.g. 100% cotton, so you don’t feel too hot or get rashes.

Raincoat – It’s likely to rain at least once during your rainforest adventure and the heavy tropical rain can soak within seconds. A lightweight waterproof raincoat or poncho is a must. Many lodges provide ponchos, which have the advantage of covering your camera bag and let air circulate.

Footwear – It’s well worth investing in a good pair of walking boots. Try to buy them in advance and wear them in a little to avoid getting blisters. Many lodges will provide rubber boots, which give you more protection.

Socks – Comfortable breathable socks that are thick enough to allow your feet to sit snuggly in your boots. By the end of your trip, they’ll likely be wet and muddy, so bring multiple pairs or expect to wash them daily.

Sandals – After you’ve best the day hiking in walking boots, it’s a good idea to allow your feet a bit of breathing room back at the lodge. Do not use flip-flops which can be slippery and dangerous, but sandals with straps or Velcro.

Hat – A wide brim hat is a must by protecting your face from stray plants and insects on the hiking trails and from the sun which beats down, particularly on open areas like rivers.

Trousers – Though there are there all sorts of fancy high-tech materials, several pairs of 100% cotton trousers do the job nicely. They are inexpensive, protect your legs and dry quickly. When wet, jeans are the worst type of trousers. You might also want to consider bringing a pair of shorts to wear back at base. Trousers that convert to shorts are a good idea too.

Shirts – Light-coloured, long sleeve shirts made from 100% breathable cotton area ideal for adventures in the Amazon. They protect your arms from insects and the strong sun, while keeping you cool.

Swimming shorts or costume – There are several places where swimming is safe in the Amazon. You’re guides will let you know when. Bring a good pair of swimming shorts or costume to cool off in the rivers or lakes.

Underwear – Comfortable, 100% cotton underwear that doesn’t rub. Plenty of changes.

Headscarf or bandanas – These can be useful for many scenarios, not just protecting your head and mobbing up your forehead sweat.

Health

Bring any personal medicine or items of a personal nature you might need as you won’t find any shops around these parts. Though the lodge where you’re staying might have supplies of these on hand, it’s worth bringing the following just in case.

Sun cream – A high factor sun cream is a must to protect your skin from the strong sun. Though much of the walking is through dense jungle, you’ll often find yourself exposed on canoes going down the rivers and lakes.

Insect repellent – Some prefer the heavy DEET repellent, others like the more natural citronella-based repellents. Either way, find what works for you and bring plenty. You could also consider burning coils for your room.

Insect bite relief – With all the will in the world, you’re still going to receive the odd bite. To stop it itching and becoming infected, a good quality insect relief product is vital.

Lip balm – The hot weather can dry you out quickly, so a soothing lip balm can help to prevent painful cracked lips.

Talcum powder – Throwing a little talc on your body before you put on your clothes can help to prevent rashes during days out hiking along the trails. It helps to get boots on and off too.

Moisturiser – A great way to relieve any rashes you might get and to stop your skin drying out.

Hand sanitizer – It’s a good idea to sanitize your hands whenever you’re in a new place. Use before you eat anything, particularly if you’re hands have been exposed to any of the river or lake water.

Basic first aid kit – The lodge will have one, but it’s never a bad idea to carry your own, just in case.

Other stuff

There are plenty of miscellaneous things that are useful to bring to make your trip as comfortable as possible.

Ear plugs – The sounds of the jungle at night are one of the most amazing things to hear, but if you’re a light sleeper, a good pair of ear plugs may help.

Day pack – A good quality day pack that’s comfortable on the shoulders and preferably has a water pack attached is useful. Ideally a waterproof one, or line it with a plastic bag.

Binoculars – Many of the lodges have binoculars for guests to use, but they are of varying quality, so bringing a small pair for yourself might be the difference between spotting one of the rare birds and not.

Sunglasses – They don’t need to be expensive so long as they have UV protection.

Torch / flashlight – Hand held torches are good, but one you can attach to your head is more comfortable. Perfect for night time hikes through the jungle.

Chargers – Any chargers and leads that you might use. Most lodges have a generator providing electricity some of the day and night.

Cameras – All the camera equipment you might need. Overdo it when it comes to memory cards as you won’t have anywhere to buy more should you run out.

Mosquito net – Most lodges include nets over the bed, but they vary in quality. To be on the safe side consider bringing your own to double up.

Ready to start exploring the Amazon? Contact one of our South American experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

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