Tips From Locals

Poison Dart FrogThe Amazon rainforest is a very unique place in the world and if you are going to travel there you can use some tips that will make your experience much better.

First you need to pack for the Amazon. If you are going to five star forest hotel (there are some) you don’t need to be too concerned about that, but if you are going on an adventure-like trip with a backpack or something similar , then you need to think carefully about what are you going to take there. As always in this kind of trip you don’t want to have too much weight to carry.

  • Small coat: or a little warmer shirt and that’s all you need to protect yourself from the cold.
  • Shorts and T-Shirts , not too many, you can easily do a manual laundry or pay a local citizen to wash your cloths whenever it’s needed. You can ask for the staff of the hotel / motel of where you are going to stay to do it for you, it will be very cheap and well done, but remember, you will need a day to the clothes get dry, it’s a very humid place.
  • Trunks: you will use it sometimes and if you are in a mosquito area they are a life-saver (really!) in the mosquito-rush-hours: in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • You also will need your swimsuit since you are going to take many river baths over there.
  • Hats: you will need one to prevent for protection from the sun.
  • Sunglasses: it’s always good to have them, better with some kind of UV shield.
  • Raincoat: you need to have one, especially if you are going in the rainy season.
  • Boots : they are nice if you are going to do trekking inside the forest, they offer good protection (from spins, snake bites and etc.) but you can also use sandals, they are much more comfortable and it’s not likely you will step in a snake. there are many, but they will usually run away from you. Outside the forest you can just use sandals.
  • Solar protection: specially if you have white skin, it’s a must, the sunburns are very annoying and in the equatorial areas the sun is more “powerful” and although you don’t have the lack of the ozone layer in the Amazon rainforest, a solar blocker is very important to prevent yourself from skin cancer. Use it everyday and apply more than once.
  • Bug repellent: there are some areas in the Amazon rainforest that don’t have mosquitoes at all due to the water composition, but that’s the exception and there are times of the year and times of the day that they are very common. You should use a repellent that does not harm your health if used constantly over many days, choose carefully (some strong hunter’s repellent are supposed to be used just in small areas of the body, so read the prescription carefully before you choose one). In Brazil you can find solar protectors with bug repellents, a two-in-one product that is good, but you will only find it in the big cities.
  • Learn a few words of Portuguese: you wont find many people speaking English in the Amazon rainforest, so it’s good to learn some basic words that you will be using, just in case, you can buy a Portuguese travel dictionary, they usually have phonetics of the words (so you can “speak” in a way people will understand you)
  • The Amazon rainforest region is a very poor place. It’s not dangerous like the big cities in Brazil but is also not good to carry large amounts of money. You also won’t find much use of your credit cards outside the bigger cities or traveler checks, so, you need to have Brazilian money.
  • Being a foreigner in the Amazon rainforest will make people overcharge you for the services or goods they are selling to you, as that’s what happens in any place. You can argue to get better prices (you will get a better price) but you can be sure that you will still be overcharged. Don’t get upset with that, you will find everything so cheap that it won’t bother you too much. A good thing about being a foreigner is that Brazilians are very friendly and will try to help you every time you need help, so don’t be shy to ask for help and mimic what you need to be understood.
  • Big advice! Don’t take ANY seed, plant or animal from the forest. Illegal biological trade in the Amazon rainforest is a big issue and the police are aware of many foreigners that go to the forest to steal things from it. Every week the police arrest a foreigner trying to go out of Brazil with something illegal, better to avoid this. Take pictures instead.
  • You need to take a “Yellow Fever” shot at least 10 days before you go to the Amazon rainforest; it’s a small needle and doesn’t hurt.