The Amazon Rainforest is not a destination for the faint of heart, but it is quite incredible for those who are looking for an adventure! And so very rewarding!! I have put together the Ultimate Packing Guide for the Amazon to help make your trip a successful adventure instead what could turn into a miserable one!
Yaron (my husband/rock/fave travel companion) and I ventured into the Amazon this past September. For some reason, probably because of the vast wildlife diversity, I have always dreamed of trekking into the Amazon. I am aware that normal people do not dream of things like this… so I was not surprised by most people’s reaction when I told them my vacation was going to be hiking through the Amazon. The actual experience was far more intense than I ever could have imagined or prepared for; but also even more amazing than I could have ever anticipated!
It is very important to plan out your packing and pack appropriately for many reasons. First, there will not be any convenience stores for you to pop in and grab something that you may have forgotten. The lodges have some toiletries and necessities, but not all that you will personally need. Also, packing the appropriate clothing will certainly make the difference between being comfortable and safe and being miserable. I have put together what I believe to be the Ultimate Packing guide for the Amazon so you can enjoy your adventure instead of worrying about what you forgot!
Warning! This list is LONG, but is specific and thorough enough to hopefully help you be prepared for anything you encounter in the jungle! Good luck and believe me, it is an extreme trip, but so WORTH IT!!
What to Pack for The Amazon:
- 90% (or higher) Deet bug spray… yes you need 100% deet to ward off the monster mosquitos.
- Serious sunscreen.. The Amazonian sun is BRIGHT! Being very close to the equator, the sun is intense. Yes I know you would think that being so far under the canopy of a rainforest would dull the sun, but there are plenty of areas where the sun is at its brightest.
- On that note, sunglasses are important as well; preferably cheap ones that you do not care about much. If they fall off into the mud or the river you will NOT be going to get them.
- A CAMERA!! Yes, your iPhone is a great camera, but does NOT have the zooming capability you will need to capture much of the wildlife you see. Remember, you are not in a zoo. The animals are HARD to find and very well hidden. They will not be close to you. Any decent camera with intense zooming capability will be sufficient. If you have the opportunity and means to invest in a nice camera and/or zoom lenses, I would definitely do it for this trip, but if not, you will be fine with basic camera that has great zoom! (Note: I actually did use my iPhone to catch the very close up opportunities like bugs. I found that the focus was much better on it for close up subjects that our Nikon.)
- Dri fit clothing.. preferably in lighter colors, as mosquitos are attracted to dark colors. You will thank me for this. You will be VERY sweaty, and having drifit helps to absorb and dry quickly.
- Long sleeve button down shirts.. You will wear these to hike because you will want as much of your skin covered as possible. Loose fitting clothing covering the skin prevents mosquitos from getting to your skin, as well as rashes from any foreign plants you brush up against, and prevents sunburn. Safari shirts in a lightweight and light colored fabric are preferable. (We got ours at REI… tip: I got some from the little boys section for me because they were less expensive!)
- Loose fitting active pants/ hiking pants but NOT heavy material. Do yourself a favor and make sure they are long and in a light color and lightweight!
- Wool hiking socks… boot length if possible…they are the fastest absorbing and most breathable. And you will be wearing rubber boots on every hike.
- Headbands. These were a lifesaver for me! They kept my hair out of my eyes, covered myhair so bugs couldn’t get in, and of course absorbed some serious sweat!
- A large brimmed hat... a safari hat is perfect! This was so important in covering my head from mosquitos, bugs, and protecting from sun!
- A Day pack: a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes and outings… you will want to always have water, a snack, first aid kit, bug spray, anti-itch cream, a flashlight with extra batteries, and potentially a poncho available to you.
- Anti-itch cream. The bugs are nuts. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Mosquitos tend to like me anyway, but I am so glad I brought every form of 100% deet bug spray I could find. (Note I did get rashes on my skin by the end from nonstop application of bug spray so you DON’T HAVE to overdo it like I did.) Even with this though, I still ended up getting some bites. Anti-itch cream allowed me to sleep at night and not scratch my skin off.
- Caffeine drops… those Mio things they sell at the grocery store were significant for us. We sprayed them in our water about twice a day to keep us going. For those of you who are not addicted to caffeine, you will probably be just fine without this.
- Biodegradable body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and toothpaste. Everything you wash down the drain will eventually make it into the river. Please be conscious of this. In using natural and biodegradable products, you are leaving the smallest footprint possible.
- Biodegradable detergent. There are many soaps that you can use as body wash, shampoo, facewash, AND detergent for your clothes. I used Dr. Bronner’s Organic Castile soap and this was great! You will most likely wash your clothes in the shower and hang them to dry. It is nice to be able to bring just a couple of things into the shower and use them for all you have to do.
- A Poncho. It can and will rain at anytime, anywhere. At least once a day. Having a poncho is an easy and portable way to keep yourself mostly dry.
- Clothes to lounge in. There will be some lounge time. And the beauty of it is that you are in control of it. If you want to lounge all day and take in the jungle air while drinking a beer and reading in a hammock, you can! With that said make sure you have some comfy clothes that are not pjs or hiking clothes! And a pair of sandals… I wore Teva’s and ended up wearing them on canoe excursions sometimes too.
- Clothes for the plane ride home! Your clothes will smell. Worse than anything ever. You will NOT want to wear them on a plane. Do yourself a favor and pack yourself some comfy clothes that are designated for the trip home. Put your other clothes in plastic bags until you get home and good luck!
- Snacks! Don’t forget snacks! The meals that the lodge provided were absolutely amazing, but I am a snacker so I was glad to have them in between the delicious meals. And the snacks are more for you to munch on while hiking. Things like granola bars, nuts, fruitsnacks are good. Make sure to keep these in your suitcase and sealed… as you probably do not intend to share them with your new furry jungle friends.
- A headlight and a flashlight. You know, one of those headbands with a light on it. When on night hikes or canoe excursions there is nothing but blackness. You are literally in the middle of the jungle in the pitch black night and your only source of light is the one you have. So make sure it is seriously bright. Invest in something of high quality and you will be happy you did. Don’t cheap out here! Also don’t forget to bring extra batteries with you! Do not fear however, the guides are amazing and will keep you safe. The pitch black night activities were some of the most magical excursions we had.. definitely worth facing the crippling fear of the dark unknown.
And Some Things NOT to Pack For the Amazon:
- Ladies: Do not bother bringing your hair styling tools, makeup, or any extra jewelry that you don’t wear on a daily basis. These will only take up space that you could use for other more important items. Embrace the opportunity to go ‘au natural’.
- You can bring hiking shoes, but we did not use ours at all. The lodge should provide you with rubber boots which you will be required to wear every time you enter the jungle. These are the safest and will keep you the most dry. It is dangerous for the animals and plants when you bring foreign substances on your shoes from home into the jungle. Also, who wants to trudge through mud and destroy their hiking shoes??
- Your innate fear of creepy crawly things. Leave it at home. You can NOT avoid them. However, it was a truly liberating experience to be forced to live around bugs that I thought were very scary and did not hurt me at all!
- Jeans. Maybe you are more of a jeans person than I am. (I HATE JEANS.) But I can promise you there is really no place for jeans here…also they take up too much space.
- A bug net for your head. I had one. I did NOT need to use it. Don’t be ridiculous.