Everything you Need to Know Before You Visit the Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the last pristine places on Earth. Its wilderness and remoteness are what makes it so special but it also means that you need to prepare yourself before enjoying a break off the grid in the jungle. I visited the Cuyabeno Wild Reserve last week and am going to share with you all some tips I wish I had known before my trip. So w
Book a Guide
When I was browsing the web before my trip into the jungle, I saw this question asked a lot on forums. “Can I visit the rainforest independently?” Well, the answer is no, you absolutely can’t. If you want to travel deep into the Amazon Rainforest, you will have to book a tour. I myself usually enjoy exploring places on my own but venturing inside the jungle alone would be reckless. Support local communities and book a guide to discover the area for your own safety but also to make the most of your journey. Animals are experts in the art of camouflage so chances are, you will be able to spot way more wildlife thanks to a guide!
The Rainforest Has Two Seasons
There are only two seasons in the Amazon Rainforest: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season usually begins in December and ends in early or mid-March. Don’t be fooled though, there are still rain showers even during the dry season. It just rains a little less… After all, it is called the rainforest! To avoid getting soaking wet in under 2 minutes, carry a waterproof jacket at all times with you. Your lodge should also provide rain boots and rain ponchos.
Your Clothes Will Never Dry
This one I had kind of anticipated but not to that extent. The Amazon Rainforest is notoriously a very humid area… so much so that even my microfiber towel had barely enough time to dry between showers! So forget about jeans and other thick materials and come prepared with a few pairs of lightweight and quick-drying pieces of clothing such as activewear. Really, the rest will not dry.
Get Your Vaccines Sorted
Although very few cases of yellow fever and malaria have been reported in the past few years in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, there is a risk to contract these diseases as well as dengue (Malaria and Dengue are tropical diseases contracted through the bite of infected mosquitoes). So make sure your vaccination record is in order before traveling to the jungle. Besides getting the yellow fever vaccine, you might also want to consult your doctor about malaria medication.
Apply repellent (frequently)
Take your precautions and apply strong mosquito repellent every few hours on exposed skin, especially at night when mosquitoes are most active. In the fight against mosquito bites, long pants and shirts are also your friends. I know, it’s hot and humid but you’re going to be sweaty and feel sticky at all times anyway so might as well be protected!
The Rainforest Wakes Up at Night
The bugs aren’t the only ones that come out at night… It seems like the jungle truly comes to life once the sun goes down. In the evening, the chant of the surrounding animals and insects constantly remind you of where you are as you’re eating dinner or trying to fall asleep. The night walk was one of my favorite activities in the programme because of how much wildlife we saw. As you’re making your way deeper and deeper between the trees you really come to wonder how many eyes are watching you at that very moment… Or if the tarantula on the tree next to you is going to jump!
No Two Rainforest Tours Are The Same
The beauty of exploring the rainforest is being able to see animals in their natural habitat… which means that you never know which ones you’ll be able to spot while you’re there. Some animals like caimans and capuchin monkeys show themselves more frequently than jaguars or river dolphins for example, but there is no guarantee. Be excited but don’t have unrealistic expectations. (Read more: How to Visit the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador)
With that being said, do bring binoculars to increase your chances of seeing the most animals possible! The first day on our way to the lake, we saw a howler monkey from the boat and it was one of those moments when I really wished I had a pair with me. Sleeping up high in a tree, it was quite hard to distinguish it from the surrounding trees because of the distance. Should I go back, I would get a pair for sure! (By the way, can you spot the anaconda on the photo?!)
Don’t Forget That You’re The Guest!
Lastly, the Amazon Rainforest is one of the last unspoiled places on the planet. Despite being threatened by deforestation and oil exploitation, it still thrives and will hopefully remain this pristine jungle for the generations to come. Being able to witness the wildlife leading its day to day life with little to no interactions with humans really is a privilege and unforgettable experience. Somethings like watching a snake eat a frog or birds pick a fight with monkeys because they were robbing their eggs were harder to watch… but as we say in French, c’est la vie. Enjoy the moment and above all, respect your surroundings.
If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon Rainforest, let me know what you most look forward to and if you’ve already been to the jungle and have any other tip, please let us know in the comment below.
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