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Amazon Expeditions: Immerse Yourself in the Fountain of Life

For the intrepid traveler, an Amazonian lodge-based land tour or riverboat cruise opens up a mysterious world of mindboggling mega-diversity. Experience this legendary South American rainforest on a worry-free Surtrek-led expedition.

 

Hike deep into the rainforest to explore the jungle at night, go fishing for piranhas, kayak alongside Pink river dolphins, sleep in a world-class luxury jungle lodge or sail along an Amazonian tributary aboard a modern, state-of-the-art Amazon riverboat. Each night, fall asleep to an orchestra of jungle amphibians and insects and wake to the calls of brilliantly colored tropical birds. Plus, when making contact with remote indigenous communities, get a sense of what it means to be in harmony with nature and one’s own natural essence.

 

For all of this, your Surtrek Amazonian tour will be custom designed to meet your particular, needs, interests, abilities, schedule & budget. Simply contact one of our travel experts to start planning your Amazon experience today.

Highlights

 

  • Visit a remote indigenous community & participate in an authentic shaman ceremony
  • Trek along rainforest trails beneath the unnerving roar of Howler monkeys
  • See hundreds of brilliantly colored macaws feeding at Amazonian clay licks
  • Find colorful poison dart frogs & learn to use an authentic Amerindian blowgun
  • Swim with pink river dolphins in Amazonian waters
  • Glide through the lush rainforest canopy on an exhilarating zipline ride
  • Do some catch-and-release fishing for the notorious piranha fish
  • Go on nocturnal canoeing safaris to spot for black caimans in lakes and waterways
  • Marvel at exotic wildlife of the jungle (Macaws, and Jaguars, and Sloths …Oh my!)

 

How to choose an Amazon vacation

 

While planning trips to the rainforest, we often ask our travelers what kind of Amazon journey they’d like to embark on: Based at a lodge or on a riverboat cruise? Both great options, but have their unique characteristics.

 

While planning trips to the rainforest, we often ask our travelers what kind of Amazon journey they’d like to embark on: Based at a lodge or on a riverboat cruise? Both great options, but have their unique characteristics.

  • LODGE-BASED STAYS: The pros of a lodge-based stay include:
    • More flexibility, given there are no set departure dates
    • A more in-depth experience, as you’ll be staying in the rainforest itself, where creatures of the jungle – including birds and monkeys – will be your neighbors
    • More room for free-time roaming, as you’ll be free to explore nearby paths early in the morning or late in the afternoon, before and after your day’s activities
    • The rustic elegance of your accommodations — with natural surroundings, thatched roofs and materials native to the region—giving travelers the feeling of really being in the rainforest

However, the tradeoffs of a lodge-based stay include occasional glitches like the electricity going out for short periods, supplies delayed from upriver, unstable or non-existent Wi-Fi, etc.

 

  • RIVER CRUISES – Similarly, river cruises in the Amazon rainforest have their own pros. These include:
    • First-Class Amenities: luxury riverboats are often considered “floating boutique hotels,” attended to by fully-trained staff and crew members, enjoying excellent food, air-conditioned rooms, regular access to hot water, and comfortable lounge areas and balconies.
    • Covering more ground during short trips, allowing embarkations for day trips at a number of destinations along the river
    • Trips to pristine locations: A cruise can allow you to discover places largely untouched by tourism, whereas the trails at most lodges are more well-trodden
    • Easier excursions: With less hiking involved, excursions from cruises tend to be a bit easier, which is especially great for older or younger guests

 

What you’ll experience on a vacation in the Amazon

 

As we know, the Amazon is the most bio-diverse areas on the planet, home to an incredible array of exotic plants and bewildering animal species. Given this, a wildlife-watching itinerary can be designed for you to experience the hair-raising roar of a troop of howler monkeys high in the forest canopy, spot the glowing eyes of caimans on the riverbank during a nighttime jungle safari, or observe families of Giant otters as our canoe crosses a lake.

 

In addition, a unique cultural experience awaits you in the rainforest, given the extraordinary indigenous peoples who populate the region. Visit a remote indigenous community and take part in a magical ceremony led by a traditional shaman.  And keep your camera at the ready, as nothing compares to experiencing an Amazonian river and the rainforest first-hand.

 

Is it safe to visit Amazon

 

While typically safe and problem-free, visits to the rainforest pose some risks to be aware of – some with a different twist when journeying deep in the Amazon. To ensure your safety on your Amazonian tour —  whether on a riverboat cruise or based at a luxury jungle lodge — Surtrek has selected highly rated accommodations based in part on them having CPR-trained staff, first-aid supplies, and being in close radio contact with local health and security professionals. In addition, the fresh food at these highly rated accommodations is always properly prepared, purified bottled water is served, and experienced local guides accompany travelers throughout their entire Amazonian experience.

 

However, there are a number of “common sense” steps that travelers themselves can take to help guarantee a safe adventure:

 

These include:

  • Getting the appropriate vaccinations and medications before you go to the Amazon
  • Protecting yourself from mosquito bites (using insect repellant, wearing long sleeve shirts…)
  • Keeping a safe distance from wild animals and NOT provoking them
  • Not drinking tap water or using ice cubes
  • Rinsing fruit in purified water
  • Keeping an eye on your luggage and take practical steps to avoid pick-pocketing in tourist areas

 

Best Time to experience the Amazon

 

Since rainfall is so common in the Amazon, it might be best to describe its seasons as the “low water” and “high water” seasons.

 

It’s generally considered that the best time of the year to visit the Amazon basin is during the low-water season (extending roughly June to November) – especially for rainforest hiking.

 

During this period, there are fewer daily showers, though the rivers are lower and some are unnavigable; however, hiking trails allow explorers to gain access to deeper parts of the jungle on foot. There are also fewer mosquitoes during this low-water period, and wildlife can be more easily spotted congregated around the remaining wet spots.

 

During the high-water season (December to May), the opposite conditions are true: Rivers can rise up to 23 feet (7m), which makes these waterways accessible and more navigable, though some of the jungle trails are flooded.

 

What to pack for the Amazon

 

Packing is always tricky, but it’s even more so when preparing for a unique, nature-based adventure in the Amazonian rainforest. Most travelers expect the jungle heat, and therefore think that a few token shorts, t-shirts, and a pair of flip flops are enough. But what some don’t consider are the frequent and heavy rains, the creepy-crawly jungle critters, the strict weight limits on small charter flights, or the high humidity that makes it hard for some types of clothes to ever dry. But more than these conditions, you’ll need to be prepared for all kinds of unusual adventure activities – everything from piranha fishing and nocturnal river safaris to rainforest wildlife treks and kayaking on the Amazon River.

 

Given the wide range of conditions and activities in the Amazon, you’ll receive a detailed packing list after you book your once-in-a-lifetime rainforest adventure tour with Surtrek. In general, though, the types of clothing and gear we recommend include the following:

 

AMAZON PACKING ESSENTIALS:

 

Documents & money

 

  • Passport (valid 6 months after the date of travel) + 1 photocopy
  • Visa or visa fee requirements (if applicable)
  • Tickets or e-tickets
  • Itinerary
  • Guidebook & maps (cellphone downloads)
  • Insurance cards (medical & travel insurance)
  • Credit cards (+ credit card contact info)
  • Cash (a minimal amount and in small untorn newer bills)
  • Emergency contact info
  • List of your personal medications
  • Copies of all documents and cards (hardcopies & saved online)

 

Travel Luggage and Packing

 

  • Backpack, duffle bag, or duffle-backpack
  • Packing cubes
  • Packable day pack or cross-body purse or for urban exploring
  • Drybag(s) 

 

Toiletries & glasses

 

  • Toiletry bag (1-quart size, 7”x8”, clear plastic)
  • Preferred toiletries
  • Personal medications
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum)
  • Insect repellant (50% DEET minimum)
  • Contact lenses (+ saline solution) &/or extra glasses
  • Polarized sunglasses (100% UVA UVB blocking)

 

Clothes

 

  • Comfortable walking shoes or athletic (running) shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Sturdy sandals (like Tevas), for non-hiking day-activities (beachcombing, horseback riding)
  • Socks – Moisture-wicking, lightweight, hiking socks with little or no cushioning recommended
  • Underwear (polyester, nylon or merino wool) / sports bras without clasps
  • T-shirts/tank tops (blended cotton-synthetic, which are soft and moisture-wicking)
  • Long pants and shorts (breathable, lightweight, moisture-wicking and quick-drying)
  • Casual shirts/blouses (merino wool or merino-synthetic blends recommended, avoid cotton)
  • Jacket (breathable, water-resistant, & wind-resistant)
  • Micro-fleece hoodie &/or merino wool sweater  
  • Long-sleeve thin shirts or t-shirts to protect your arms from the Brazil sun
  • A wide-brimmed hat or sun hat
  • Swimwear (+ long-sleeve T-shirt to wear while swimming if you sunburn easily)
  • Beach towel (quick-drying micro-fiber travel type)
  • Accessories (a belt, gloves, costume jewelry…)
  • Nightwear (warm pajamas)

 

Gear and gadgets

 

  • Camera & gear / GoPro (with extra memory disks, rain covers, batteries)
  • Unlocked smartphone
  • Battery charger/ lip-stick-sized powerbank / power cords
  • Voltage adapter 
  • Plastic water bottle
  • Collapsible travel umbrella
  • Binoculars (8 x 40 are excellent for dim lighting beneath the forest canopy)
  • LED Flashlight or headlamp for nighttime jungle excursions

 

Getting to the Amazon

 

The Amazon region is vast, covering around 40% of all South America and spans into eight countries. Below, Surtrek has selected three of the most popular countries for accessing and experiencing the mysteries of the Amazonian rainforest:

 

  • Ecuador: Access to the Ecuadorian Amazon is easy. After landing in the capital city of Quito, Surtrek guides will meet you and assist you with making a short 45-minute flight to the Amazon. Landing at a local airport, you will be transferred to a world-class eco-lodge or Amazonian riverboat via a 4x4 vehicle or a motorized canoe to begin an unforgettable adventure.

 

  • Peru: Home to the second largest area of the Amazon, the Peruvian Amazon is also the most wildlife-rich. When you touch down in Lima, Surtrek partners will be there to welcome and accompany you throughout your lodge-based tour or Peru riverboat adventure. You will fly to one of two areas in Peru to experience for your Amazonian tour. Spend time in either in the northern Peruvian Amazon outside the city of Iquitos or in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon, where the most visited areas are the Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park (Manu is assessable via Cusco, so can be more easily combined with a Machu Picchu tour).

 

  • Bolivia: The Bolivian Amazon is just as biologically diverse as Brazil’s yet visited by fewer tourists. To begin your once-in-a-lifetime adventure here, upon your arrival in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, you will be assisted in flying to the town of Rurrenabaque – the gateway to the Bolivian rainforest. After being welcomed in that town, Surtrek representatives will transfer you to the local river’s dock for a motorized canoe ride into Madidi National Park and onward to your upmarket lodge, shrouded in the mysteries of the Amazonian rainforest. 

 

Why go on a tour of the Amazon with Surtrek?

 

Since 1993, Surtrek has been introducing adventurous travelers to authentic, tailor-made luxury travel experiences in the Amazonian rainforest. Over this time, we have become adept at offering some of the best and most complete tour services in the rainforest and across all of South America. With our experienced travel team of 25 members strong — including native speakers of five different languages — we will work one-on-one with you to custom-design an Amazonian tour that perfectly suits your particular interests and needs. Just contact one of our travel experts to start planning your Amazon experience today.

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“We had an absolutely amazing trip! Surtrek coordinated a Galapagos Cruise on the Natural Paradise yacht and then a stay at the Napo Wildlife Center. Everything was beyond our expectations!! I highly recommend Surtrek.”Janda Terese Stevens