Peruvian Amazon Rainforest: 10 Things to Know Before You Go

25 Apr 2018

Heading to the Peruvian Amazon? Here are 10 tips for you ahead of your trip.

People visit Peru for Machu Picchu first and foremost. But a trip deep into the Peruvian Amazon is an unmissable experience that you can easily fit into your itinerary. Have you bitten the bullet yet? If you're already planning a trip to the jungle, here's what you need to know.

1. You can go pretty much anytime

The Peruvian Amazon is hot and humid all year long but it's less rainy from May to September. That doesn't mean you should only consider visiting then, though, as most tourists will. I've been in the jungle in June and December and enjoy both times just as much. An advantage of going in December is that few people are travelling to the Amazon after Christmas and before New Years' Eve. Because of this, we only shared our trip with 2 other people in the tour. Another advantage of going in the rainy season is that rain increases fruit production, and as a result this increases animal activity and your chances of seeing fauna.

2. Yes you need a tour

This is a question that pops up again and again. In order to go to the Amazon jungle you need an organised tour. Good Amazonian lodges have their own packages and hire expert guides who have deep knowledge of the area and the flora and fauna around. It's almost impossible to do "your own thing" unless you are well-connected and know people who can pick you up (on the boats), organise your permits (to enter the different conservation areas even as you navigate the river), organise your stay and get a private boat to take you to the different areas you'd like to see. It will also be much more expensive.

3. Get your jabs ahead of time

Get your Tetanus and Yellow Fever vaccines at least 10 days before travel, earlier if you can. If you want to be super careful, here is the UK's National Health Service advice for immunisations when travelling to Peru. You can also see any health warnings there. Don't worry if you forget your certificate - no one is likely to ask you for it. But do it for your peace of mind.

4. Take tons of mosquito repellent

Even better if it's 100% DEET-free (DEET is a pollutant and an irritant). You can get some awesome super strong ones by Jason (available globally on Amazon) or Holland & Barrett in the UK. If you forget to buy it, ask your guide when you get to the lodge. They will either have some for sale or even better - will advice what plants or tree barks to rub on your skin to repel insects!

Other things to bring in your bag include long-sleeved cotton shirts, light-coloured clothes, socks and closed shoes or boots. All of these will help avoid bites when walking around the jungle or near the water. Your lodge is very likely to have mosquito nets around the beds, so you should be safe at night.

5. Things you must bring to the jungle

SPF 50. Slap it on every morning, no excuses. A hat - and wear it. A good torch (for night-walks). Stock up on antihistamines, pain-killers and loperamide (in case you get the s*its). A couple of ziploc bags can be useful to store your electrical items if it gets too humid. If you've got binoculars, pack them. Finally, there's reduced electricity in the jungle - usually a generator runs a couple of hours in the evening. So bring a battery pack for your phone and cameras.

And make sure this all fits in a backpack or a weekend bag you can carry on your back. No wheelies! You'll have to lug this bag around with you from the city to a boat, up some precarious steps to a lodge and then through wooden walkways to your private lodge.

6. Tap water isn't potable (drinkable)

Therefore bring your own bottled water and re-fill your bottle to take with you on your adventures. The lodge will provide plenty of juice, water, tea and coffee during downtime. 

7. Follow directions from your guide

And whatever you do, respect the jungle! Don't attempt to go into the jungle by yourself for a walk or go into an area that you haven't been told you're allowed to go to. 

8. The delights of the jungle are subtle...

Throughout your stay in the jungle you'll gradually start feeling the effects of having little technology around you and a LOT of nature. The city buzz is replaced with water trickling, loud noises of frogs, birds, cicadas at night, and just about a million other sounds that fill your head and calm your spirit. It's a peaceful place to be in, yet full of life.

But even though 10% of the world's species live in the Peruvian Amazon, you won't be running into wildlife at every turn. You are most likely to see birds, insects, fish and monkeys during your trip. If your guide is really good, he'll spot tons more animals and point them out to you during the different trips you'll do on the boat.

9. Don't touch the animals

If you do see wildlife - don't touch it! Ask your tour operator beforehand if you'll visit any "sanctuaries" where you'll be encouraged to hold or touch animals. If they do, we discourage you from booking with them - or at least from touching the animals if you do book with them. True animal sanctuaries only keep endangered species or animals that are not otherwise able to go back to living in the wild.

10. If you're doing Ayahuasca, do it responsibly

You will probably be researching this one a bit more than just reading about it on a list of tips. But it's worth a mention. This is a serious experience that requires very knowledgeable spiritual guides. There are many stories of scams or worse. If you're going to do this, don't let it be a last-minute decision and make sure you don't put yourself in danger. This is is a matter of life and death, not one to joke about.

That's it! Those are our 10 things you need to know before you go to the Peruvian Amazon. I hope you are prepared and looking forward to visit this amazing region of Peru.

If you have any tips you think we should include here or you want to share your tips with us, we'd love to hear them! Pop them in the comment section just below!

We've created an awesome 1-page guide with the best tips from all our friends & family who've been to Peru recently. Plus, I'm Peruvian! Get your PDF download for free here.

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