A visit to the Amazon Rainforest is up there as one of the best travel experiences in the world. From wildlife-spotting opportunities to luxury accommodation, a trip into the jungle can be whatever you want it to be. This is where the tailor made travel companies really come into their own! We take a look at the 10 best experiences and things to do in the Amazon Rainforest…
1) See the Meeting of the Waters in Manaus
This phenomenon is best observed near Manaus in Brazil, where the Rio Negro and the Amazon River meet. For over 5 miles the two rivers, one almost black and one a light sandy colour, run side by side without mixing. This is due to the Rio Negro being a much warmer, denser and slower flowing river than the Amazon. Nature really is amazing, isn’t it?
Where? The Meeting of the Waters is a great trip if you’re visiting the Amazon near Manaus in Brazil.
2) Head into the Treetops for a Bird’s Eye View
There are many canopy walkways in the Amazon, offering visitors a chance to see those animals which rarely venture down to ground level. These consist of a series of hanging bridges, towers and viewing platforms, most of which are over 25 meters high, so not a great experience for those with vertigo! But if you’re brave enough to take to the trees you will be rewarded with some fantastic photo opportunities!
Where? Inkaterra in Peru, and Refugio and Posada Amazonas in Brazil all offer great canopy walkways, but the bridge at Sacha Lodge in Ecuador is probably the most impressive, at over 250 meters long and 30 meters high.
3) Go Fishing for Piranhas
Fishing with a typical bamboo rod might be a popular tourist activity, but it’s great fun. If you’re lucky enough to land on a school of hungry piranhas, you could literally catch hundreds of them. This normally happens during the dry season when water levels are lower, and the fish get trapped in smaller pools with no food. However this is also when most attacks happen, so you wouldn’t want to join them for a swim…
Where? Most Amazon stays will involve a boat trip to go piranha fishing, so no matter which country you visit the rainforest in, there should be the opportunity to catch (and eat!) them.
4) Watch the Parrots at a Clay Lick
Clay licks, or collpas, are naturally occurring patches of earth abundant in minerals and sodium, which attract flocks of hungry parrots, and are a great spot for wildlife photography. Amazonian birds have a diet mainly consisting of nuts, seeds, grubs and fruit, so these salt licks make up for the missing nutrients. Many colourful species can be observed, making for quite a spectacle.
Where? Yasuni National Park on the Napo River in Ecuador has a couple of popular clay licks, but they are dotted all over the Amazon and many lodges include them as part of their itineraries.
5) Learn about Local Tribes
The local tribes of the Amazon are some of the most untouched civilisations in the world. While most tourists visit the jungle for wildlife reasons, learning about the indigenous people is a fascinating experience, and one not to be missed during your trip. While most itineraries include educational activities, which teach you basic survival skills and the medicinal uses of various plants, it’s great to dig a little deeper if you can. Ask questions, support local businesses, and most importantly, be respectful and always use ethically conscious travel companies.
Where? The whole of the Amazon provides countless educational opportunities, and most of the lodges are passionate about protecting their environment.
6) Board an Amazon River Cruise
An especially good option for those visitors who want to experience the jungle without compromising on comfort, an Amazon River cruise offers the best of both worlds. Staying on the river means you will get some unique wildlife-spotting opportunities, especially at night when the jungle really comes alive. However there are still plenty of opportunities to disembark and explore deeper into the jungle with your knowledgeable guide.
Where? Our favourite cruise boat is probably the Delfin I in Peru, which offers 5 star accommodation and even a plunge pool in the deluxe suite!
7) Try some Exotic Amazonian Cuisine
Amazonian cuisine is gaining a bit more international recognition lately, which is unsurprising considering the deliciously exotic flavours and unique dishes. On any Amazon adventure you will have the chance to sample some local foods; everything from grilled river fish to fruits you’ve probably never even heard of. Of course there are a few more questionable snacks on offer, such as the Ecuadorian tree slug, or how about a handful of Colombian big-butt ants on your pizza?
Where? Don’t let us put you off! Everywhere you go in the Amazon will give you the chance to try the local cuisine, and the food varies greatly from place to place.
8) Take a Twilight Hike
As everyone knows, the jungle is a noisy old place at night, so the chance to spot some of the more elusive, nocturnal species is a great experience. The forest is a completely different place when the sun goes down, and feeling your way through the trees with just a torch for light is quite thrilling.
Where? Most Amazon lodges off night-time walks, and normally these are available on request, so you will have your own guide who will keep an eye (or an ear) out if there are any animals you are particularly interested in seeing.
9) Swim with Pink Dolphins
Ok, so you don’t actually have to jump into the murky Amazon River to enjoy these fascinating creatures, but there are plenty of tours which will allow you to do so. Apparently they prefer calmer waters, and use their sonar to steer clear of caiman and alligators, so the theory is that it’s safe to swim with them. There is much debate as to why they are pink in colour, but some believe it is due to the quality of the water they inhabit.
Where? It’s hard to predict where the elusive pink Amazon River dolphin will be, and they are less sociable than their salt water cousins, but there’s a good chance of stumbling upon them whilst on a boating or fishing trip.
10) Get Even Closer to Nature by Camping
Trekking and camping in the Amazon basin remains as popular as ever with seasoned-travellers and zoologists alike. It’s the best way to get up close and personal with the wildlife, plus, you’re environmental footprint is almost none existent. After a day or two of hiking and sleeping under canvas, you’ll no longer care about the critters in your bed or the smell of your sweaty socks! And sitting around the campfire as the sun sets, eating the fish you caught earlier, and spotting nocturnal creatures in the trees around you, has to be one of the best experiences on the planet!
Where? Iquitos in Peru is a good choice, and our favourite itinerary combines camping with some lodge stays as well, so you get a complete Amazon experience.
More things to do in the Amazon…
We hope we’ve given you some ideas of things to do in the Amazon. Of course, the rainforest has so much to offer its visitors, that we couldn’t include everything. So if you would like any more information or our assistance planning a jungle adventure, then just contact us!