Rainforests are home to approximately half the world’s plant and animal species, and they are also the home of indigenous peoples with ways of life totally distinct from those of the westernized world. For most travelers, a visit to a tropical rainforest is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A rainforest vacation offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, birdwatching, photography, adventure, hiking, relaxation and cultural exchange. However, a visit to the rainforest is not the trip for everyone.
Rainforests are often hot and humid. The wildlife you’ve seen on television documentaries is not always easy to see in real life, and you will come across plenty of insects. When planning your trip to the rainforest there are some things you should bear in mind.
The climate of tropical rainforests is apparent from their name. The tropics are mostly warm and humid. When you are not beneath the protective cover of the rainforest canopy, for example when traveling on rivers, the tropical sun will be strong, unless of course it’s raining. Rainforests receive considerable annual rainfall, although in most forests, including those of Peru, rainfall tends to be seasonal.
Tropical rainstorms tend to be short-lived, meaning that even in the rainy season it is unusual for excursions to be canceled due to rainfall. In the Amazon basin, visitors should expect rainfall lasting an hour or two, preceded or followed by clear weather.
Of course, you will want to see wildlife. But if all you hope to see is major fauna, such as jaguars or harpy eagles, you should not confuse diversity with abundance. While rainforests are home to countless numbers of species, most are small creatures that live in the forest canopy. Any one given species of major rainforest fauna is not necessarily plentiful.
You will need patience and time if you want see and even photograph the animals you’ve always dreamed of seeing. Try to spend as much time as you can in the rainforest, select a protected area to visit, and hire the services of a good ecotourism company with experienced naturalist guides who know where to look out for certain species. And don’t be disappointed if you don’t see the animals at the top of your list! There are so many other things to see and experience in the rainforest. Again, an experienced naturalist guide will bring the forest alive for you, and you’ll learn quickly to appreciate the incredible variety of plant life, and the abundance of the tiniest creatures.
You will certainly see a lot of plants in the rainforest. Unlike in northern forests, in tropical rainforests the trees grow close together and, as a survival mechanism, they represent a much greater variety of species, soaring upwards to create the canopy inhabited by so many of the forest’s diverse smaller plant species and animals.
During your rainforest vacation, you will probably not encounter the indigenous people you have read about and seen on news stories. Indigenous groups who live in voluntary isolation occupy remote parts of the Amazon where travel is discouraged. This is the only way for new generations of uncontacted indigenous peoples to live out their traditional lives in peace, as they have done for thousands of years. The local people you are likely to meet in the Amazon basin will probably be subsistence farmers or colonists from outside the region. And if you do meet indigenous people through reputable ecotourism companies, they will probably be wearing t-shirts and shorts, and using canoes with outboard motors.
The best way to navigate the complexities of visiting the Amazon basin is to book with an ecotourism company and stay at an eco-lodge.
At our Tambopata Ecolodge, we protect our own Private Conservation Area, guide our guests in nearby Tambopata National Reserve, and offer them hotel-style comfort and fine food at our eco-lodge facilities.