By Allie Almario
The Amazon region covers about 40% of the entire continent of South America. For many travelers, the opportunity to explore the rich bio-diversity of the rainforest is not to be missed. In fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund, there are at least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals (such as the jaguar, anteater, capybara – the largest rodent in the world – and giant otter), more than 1,300 species of birds (the harpy eagle, hoatzin and toucan are on the list), 378 reptiles and more than 400 amphibians like the poison dart frog that inhabit the Amazon. And let’s not forget the 3,000 types of fresh water fish species found in the rivers, including the much-feared piranha and giant catfish.
Whether you choose to base your trip on land in one of the many eco-friendly lodges or on a luxury river cruise, it’s best that you think ahead and pack some items that are specific to the Amazon.
Due to the heat and humidity and surprisingly variable temperatures, here are a few essential must-pack clothing items specific to the region that you should bring:
- Waterproof long-sleeved jacket (with a hood is a plus, though not necessary)
- Lightweight long pants and sleeves that specifically “wick” away moisture from your skin and are quick to dry; khaki or beige tones work best
- Lightweight poncho (covers your daypack and keeps your hands free; some lodges provide them)
- Lightweight but long socks
- Strappy sandals such as Tevas or Keens
- Waterproof lightweight hiking boots
Avoid bringing cotton clothing. The humidity and moisture in the air will guarantee that cotton tends to take quite a long time to air dry.
Most lodges will provide basic first aid, but you should also bring along your own band-aids, moleskin for blisters, antiseptic cream, anti-itch cream and aspirin. Sunscreen and strong insect repellent are also important. Of course, don’t forget your own personal medications with a few extra days’ worth just in case. Never pack these in your checked luggage – bring with you in your carry-on, just to be safe.
In addition, we recommend the following gear:
- Powerful headlamp with extra batteries
- Waterproof pouches to keep your electronics dry (silica gel packets help with humidity)
- Powerful but small binoculars with neck straps for birding
- Hanging toiletry bag with zippers
- Wildlife guidebook or checklist with photos
Don’t bother bringing rainboots – most lodges will provide them for guests as a courtesy amenity. Unless you wear extra small or extra large shoes, the lodge should carry rainboots in your size.
Another tip: check ahead to see if your lodge accepts credit cards. You may want to bring extra cash in the local currency instead.
Many internal flights into remote Amazon gateways require luggage weight limitations – under 44 lbs or less.