Tropical rainforests cover less than 3% of the Earth's surface area, and yet they are home to more than half of the planet's terrestrial animal species. There is no better place in the world to see tropical forest wildlife than the Amazon basin of South America.
The Amazon's extraordinary beauty and mystery attract travelers from all over the world, but it is important for visitors to remember a few basic tips in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. When you plan your visit to the forests of the Amazon as part of your Peru vacation, the first thing to do is make sure you will be exploring rivers, lakes and forest trails with a professional guide. The most reputable jungle lodges and eco-lodges employ experienced and knowledgeable naturalist guides for their fully-escorted rainforest excursions.
Before you travel, check with the jungle lodge staff to make sure you are aware of any vaccinations you may need. At Tambopata Ecolodge, where we operate our jungle tours, in our own remote corner of the forests of southeastern Peru, yellow fever is present but uncommon. However, vaccinations for yellow fever are recommended for those traveling to all South American, Central American and Caribbean tropical forest destinations. Those seeking vaccination before travel should remember that they must receive their shot at least 10 days before arrival in the rainforest. Travelers already vaccinated should remember they will require a booster vaccination every ten years. Travelers are also recommended to pack a reliable insect repellent and malaria prophylaxis.
However, remember that the best way to avoid insect bites when visiting tropical forests is to cover up. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt in the jungle to protect your skin from insect bites and any rashes that can appear following contact with certain plant species. Most guides recommend checking your boots before putting them on to make sure no tiny creatures are sheltering inside. And when you walk on forest trails, tuck the cuffs of your pants into your boots and socks to keep out ants and other insects.
You should never approach or unduly disturb animals. The major species of jungle fauna do all they can to stay away from humans, but they can become alarmed if they sense a perceived threat. The best way to see wildlife is from a safe distance and to take a guided tour of a national park or nature reserve with a reputable eco-lodge and professional guide.
In addition to using insect repellent at night and in the early morning and evenings, make sure you sleep with a mosquito net. You shouldn’t have to pack a mosquito net if you are booking with a reliable rainforest tour operator. The beds at good lodges are fitted with mosquito nets, and the rooms are screened against insects and to ensure good ventilation.
Finally, during your jungle stay, avoid drinking from natural water sources, and don’t drink the tap water. Again, reputable lodges will provide boiled or purified water for drinking, and some will also offer bottled water for sale.