I just came back from a week long trip to the Amazon Jungle (via Iquitos, Peru)! I’ll go over my itinerary in a later post, but I did everything from jungle trekking, to fishing for piranhas, swimming in the Yapata/Amazon River, to hanging out with the locals and participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony.
Below are 11 items that I think were essentials on my trip, and below that is a more detailed list of items I brought that just made things a bit more comfortable.
- Baby wipes
I used these way more than I expected. With no running water and showers either in the rain or the river, these came in handy for wiping off dirt from my face/body, cleaning off cuts I got in the forest, or for when I ran out of toilet paper.
- Baby powder
– Dry shampoo: So while I was in the jungle, I never got to properly wash my hair. Whatever, no big deal, I’ve gone without showering before right? Right. But when it’s been almost 3 days and I feel like my hair can provide enough grease to run a KFC for a week, baby powder comes in handy. Just sprinkle generously on roots and it’ll soak the grease right up.
– Bug repellent: I also used this over my mat area where I slept – baby powder is a natural repellent for ants, bees, and rumor has it, mosquitos, so I sprinkled some around my mat and hammock where I slept, and voila! No bites at night.
– Dehumidifier: None of my clothes dried. Amazon humidity. Sprinkling some powder over my light tops and over my mat/hammock at night absorbed some of the moisture. It made a huge difference.
- Sun screen
Amazonian sun. ‘Nuff said. Yes, it can get cloudy/rainy..but trust me, it won’t stay like that all day. Mr. Sun will come out to say hi, then burn you. Even if you’re Asian and you’ve never burnt before. He will burn you then he’ll come back and burn you again tomorrow. Just put on the sunscreen and reapply after you swim in the river.
- Mosquito repellent
The bracelets don’t work at all, so just spray on all the 98.11% deet that you can get your hands on and keep your fingers cross. Don’t forget your ears, fingers, and toes. I have 58 mosquito bites from the 5 hours that I first got to jungle and forgot to put it on. You don’t want to be awake at the wee hours of the night, hot, humid, AND scratching your legs off because your FORGOT to put repellent on. Or worse, because you don’t have any.
- Anti-itch cream
For said mosquito bites.
- Safety whistle
I was lost in the jungle by myself for about 2 hours as the sun was setting. This came in handy.
- Benedryl / Sleeping aide
You might not need this, but the combination of animal noises, heat and humidity at night made it close to impossible to fall asleep. I can fall asleep to loud ambulances and traffic honking, but frogs, crickets, and the occasional roar of the “gambo” toad was not doing it for me. One benedryl and I was out like a light.
The sun sets around 5:30/6pm on the river. Some houses will have generators that provide electricity to 3-4 hours, but for about 3 hours, I was relying on the oil lamps that my host family had and my little flashlight. Very useful to have had my own that I could hold in my mouth.
- Buff (or similar bandana)
Mainly to not breathe in gnats/bugs. We’d take the boat to fish at night or to spot a caiman and there are many, many tiny bugs that I’d breathed in or caught in my mouth. A Buff just made it easier to rest easy that I won’t have eaten too many bugs. Also can’t bugs out of my ears at night. You can also use the buff as a bandana or a hat or any of the 12 other things they’re advertised for.
- Water bottle
My host family called me a fish because of all the boiled water I drank. The water bottle allowed me to do so! You’ll be sweating more than you realize, and more dehydrated than you think, so a water bottle is essential.
- Plastic bags
I save those plastic bags at grocery stores that you put produce in. On this trip, I brought a ton of them, and they were so handy! From storing dirty clothes, carrying snacks in, eating out of, and even peeing/pooping in (perhaps TMI, but I first used a bag when there was a torrential downpour in the middle of the night, bathroom holes were flooded, and it would have been a very miserable experience to leave the shack. I used it again after having gotten bitten 3 times in a very uncomfortable place while going outside). Just make sure they’re properly disposed of.
And the rest of the packing list —
- long (zipoff) pants – comes in handy in the jungle
- long socks for rainboots
- blouses (chambray button downs, etc) – you can wear these over a tank top to protect yourself from bugs or the sun
- Toms (or similar canvas closed-toe shoes) – saved me from some toe mosquito bites
- Croc flats (or similar rubber flip-flops)
- Bathing suit
- * The village I stayed at offered rainboots and ponchos. I didn’t even use the ponchos – you’ll get wet anywho.
- Cipro, for travelers’ diarrhe
- Claritin, for seasonal allergies
- Dramine, for motion sickness
- Ibuprofen, for pain
- Pepto-Bismol, for nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea
- *I only ended up using the bandages, ibuprofen and claritin, the rest were just in case
- Journal – you’ll want something to reflect your thoughts on
- Polaroid camera — having this was great for interacting with the kids in the village, and even my host family. Most of them have never had a picture of themselves developed, so this was quite the treat! I like to make a habit of bringing a Polaroid camera to most places I travel.
- A book or two
- An open mind, ready to live like the people, and not as an outsider looking in — traveling with a mind ready and eager to learn has been the most important travel tip I’ve learned to embrace.
- And that’s that! I hope this list was helpful. I’ll update with an overview of my activities while staying in the jungle.
(These lists are written from the perspective of a 23 yo decently low maintenance city girl living without electricity, running water, A/C, ie – living like a local. You may want to tweak your list depending on the experience you want to have.)
Thanks for reading!