From the hustle and bustle of the big smoke, to the slow grinding rhythm of the clean, airy jungle, there’s nothing quite like the contrast between your normal life and the one you’ll lead in the Amazon jungle. And for all its peculiarities — the humidity, the silence, the bugs and so on — a trip to the jungle of all jungles is something you’ll always look back on (only perhaps not if you’re eaten by an Anaconda… that’s a joke). Here are some things to know about the Amazon in order to make sure you know what to expect!
With their Spanish/Portuguese name, it seems fitting that we’d start of our list mentioning “little flies” (mosca + ito = little fly) — which actually aren’t that little, we must say. There’s essentially no way mosquitoes won’t be form of your jungle experience, so it’s important to have them on your radar, avoiding not only a nasty little bite here and there, but also dengue, malaria and yellow fever, depending on the area of the jungle you’ve chosen to journey through. Advice:
- Ensure you’re equipped with repellents that contain DEET oil
- Don’t forget to bring a healthy supply of anti-malaria medication, which you’ll likely start taking a few days or weeks prior to arriving to the Amazon (consult your doctor well in advance)
- A mosquito net, or mosquetero in Spanish, is a must. Most places you stay or visit in the Amazon will come equipped with mosquito-net-equipped beds. Put these to use!
- Finally… don’t panic! Mosquito avoidance is a given part of any trip to the Amazon, so try to take them in your stride (but, in striding, keep your mouth closed in the process… mosquitoes don’t taste that nice).
You’ll love us as we now jump onto the topic of the Amazon’s not so laughable nuisances. While leaches won’t sniff you out like the mosquitoes will, they are prolific in the moist, moist Amazon jungle. The best method of avoiding these bloodsuckers is to bring proper concealed shoes; these might be special jungle hikers, or just plain old gumboots. Our best advice is that you follow the instructions of your guide when it comes to ensuring your shoes are trek-ready and sealed correctly. And again, don’t fret… leaches are just another part of the action and something that, with proper preparation, can be avoided!
Drink, drink, drink
The grand illusion of a place with so much moisture in the air is that you’ll somehow, magically, be able to stay dehydrated. Think again! Sweating your way through the Amazon jungle you’re going to be losing a lot of liquid. A sturdy supply of bottled water is never hard to come by at the places you’ll be staying, so make the most of it and keep your own bottle as full to the top as possible. And if even you’re not too thirsty, drink up!
Hold up high-hoper
On one hand, Tarzan. On the other, the dozens of Amazon jungle documentaries you’ve devoured. This pristine natural destination with its endless flora and fauna is, without doubt, one of the best places on earth to see nature at its finest. But remember, the Amazon jungle is a big, expansive place! Monkeys, pink dolphins, bugs, birds — you’ll see those, we’re quite certain. But big bad jungle cats, sloths, rodents — not to mention Tarzan — are not so easy to find. You’ll have your reasons for wanting to go to the Amazon, and flor and fauna are no doubt — and rightfully so — high on the list. By knowing what you will and likely won’t see, you’re setting yourself up for a journey of reasonable expectations. And no matter what, a trip to the Amazon is bound to be one of the most jaw-dropping experiences you’ll ever have!
Just to throw something hopeful in here… Monkeys! Loveable, cheeky, naughty, the best time to see the jungle’s most recognizable characters as they cavort through the trees is early in the morning. Ask the staff or guides where you’re staying about how and when it’s best to go monkey spotting!
Stay calm, comrade
A visit to the Amazon can be overwhelming — in good ways, usually. For those among us who’ve never been to such an isolated, untouched place in the world, know that the feeling of being overwhelmed is a natural one. So unless you see one of those mystical giant Anacondas (which you won’t) stay calm and take a big deep breath of fresh Amazonian air!
Have you heard about Ailola Quito’s Traveling Classroom program? It’s true, you can learn Spanish and travel the Amazon at the same time!
Originally published on Ailola by Jayson McNamara on May 27, 2014.