In this guide, you’ll find some of the best things to see and do in the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest is located in the Amazon river basin in Southern America. It covers about 2.3 million square miles and spans eight countries, including Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname; it also covers some part of French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.
Facts about the Amazon Rainforest Ecosystem
A visit to the Amazon Rainforest is a pilgrimage into the innermost bosom of nature. It’s one of the most incredible regions to visit on Earth; a first-class natural phenomenon. It has the largest river basin in the world. It’s the most biodiverse location. The rainforest itself is the largest in the world, producing more than 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen.
Melodies of birds and animals serenade your every visitation, especially if you are lodged within the jungle or anywhere close. But sometimes, the sounds of the wildlife here can make you realize how chaotic nature can be. Some Amazon critters emit sounds that reach up to 130 Decibels. Bulldog bats even emit up to 137 Decibels. To put this into context, the human shout is about 70 dB; thunder is 100 dB. So you may want to visit with your earmuffs.
The level of experience you enjoy on your visit to this Amazon Rainforest could be determined by the gateway you choose to access it. Though the Amazon Rainforest spans several countries, it’s more realistic to access the rainforest from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. This is because these countries provide the necessary infrastructural gateways into the rainforest, so you don’t need to worry about trying to navigate through on your own.
To visit the Amazon Rainforest from Brazil, you can go through Belêm in the Para State of Manaus. However, the latter is the best place to access the rainforest due to its proximity to the Amazon biome and easy access from major airports.
Manaus is located a little more than 200 miles south of the Equator, which happens to be in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Manaus is a river port city and capital of Amazonas (state), northwestern Brazil. It lies along the north bank of the Negro River, which flows into the Amazon basin.
Manaus has an international airport and is just nine minutes away from Eduardo Gomes International Airport, the most common way to get to northern Brazil. Manaus is a tourist hub and the most popular gateway into the Amazon Rainforest in South America. So you are very likely to find yourself in the company of many other tourists, which is a good thing from a safety perspective.
Tour operators stationed in Manaus offer both budget and luxury cruise plans, so you’ll surely find what fits your pocket size without taking away the fun of the adventure. The ride gives you an expansive view of the Amazon river in a manner that other gateways cannot offer.
You can easily find jungle lodges around, and they offer excursions into the rainforest on canoe trips or by hiking in the company of a guide.
There are other breathtaking sites you can also visit in this city. Some of them are Lago Janauari Ecological Park, Jaú National Park, and the Anavilhanas Archipelago.
Attractions in Manaus
There are some incredible sites to behold in Manaus. One popular attraction is the confluence of the brown waters of the Rio Negro and the black waters of the Rio Solimões. This attraction is locally known as the Encontro das Aguas and is usually the first stop of every Amazon tour in Manaus.
Other attractions around the Amazon Rainforest in Manaus include the January Ecological Park, the pristine Presidente Figueiredo Sanctuary Waterfall, Rio Negro Palace, and Tupé Beach, the home of the Dessana tribe.
Don’t forget to have a taste of the local cuisine while your stay lasts. Tacacá, a local soup; Bolo de Macaxeira, a tasty translucent cake; sugar cane juice; a favorite local drink.
Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos, Peru
Visiting the Amazon Rainforest from Peru is quicker and cost-effective. The country offers two gateways: Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos.
Puerto Maldonado, also called Tambopata, is located in southern Peru. The main way to experience the Amazon Rainforest is by lodging close to or within the reserve. You can book your stay at one of the jungle lodges ahead of arrival. The lodges usually offer guided tour services. Your tour guide will most likely meet you at the airport, holding a sign with the lodge’s name on it.
It would help if you came to Puerto Maldonado with your Yellow Fever Vaccination Card. Local officials often ask for it even though it may or may not be “officially” required.
Iquitos is, however, the best way to access the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, and most Amazon tours in Peru start here. Iquitos is a port city in northeastern Peru and lies minus 3.75 degrees south of the equator. It’s the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road. So planes and boats are the primary means of entrance. You can always catch a flight to Iquitos from the capital Lima. You can also enter the city using a cargo ship from Yurimaguas, Pucallpa, or any navigable port on the Amazon river. Speed boats also ply the Yurimaguas to the Iquitos water route daily.
Unlike Puerto Maldonado, Iquitos has several sightseeing locations that can fit in between your jungle outings. While in Iquitos, you can stay in one of the surrounding jungle lodges. The city also offers boat cruises into the Amazon.
Attractions in Iquitos
There are a lot of amazing spots in Iquitos. I tend to be quite empathetic, so I’m picking Manatee Rescue Center as the top of the bunch. This center is a sanctuary where orphaned and injured manatees receive care and protection until they are strong enough to be released into the wild. Guests get the chance to interact with these animals, feed them and learn about this endangered species from a tour guide. Other pleasant tourist attractions around and within the Amazon Rainforest environs include the Floating City of Belén near the city’s outskirts; Pacaya Samiria National Reserve; Amazon Museum, where you can go through galleries detailing the history of the Iquitos.
Peruvian cuisine is widely known for its exceptional flavors and colors. Select foods you may love to try are chonta, a palm tree salad delicacy; juanes, rice dough stuffed with chicken and wrapped in banana leaves; Inchi chi, chicken soup with peanuts; Aguajina, a refreshing drink made from a jungle fruit called “aguaje.”
El Coca, Ecuador
Ecuador has a small percentage of the Amazon basin, yet the rainforest here is likely the most biodiverse in the world. The rainforest could be accessed from several navigable channels, but El Coca is the best gateway into the biome. El Coca city (officially known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana) is the capital city of the province of Orellana in eastern Ecuador. The city is located in the Amazon Rainforest at the confluence of the Coca River and the Napo River.
This destination is less popular than Brazil and Peru, but it still has a lot to offer. El Coca is near two protected areas in the Amazon Rainforest: Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and Yasuní National Park, the most biodiverse location on earth.
Just like in Peru, El Coca offers quicker and more cost-friendly access to the rainforest than Brazil. Taxis are cheap within the city. There are also many budget hotels and hostels in the city. Visitors to El Coca can choose to stay in a jungle lodge in areas like Yasuní National Park, which can only be accessed by motorized canoes depart from the Coca River. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy guided wildlife excursions while lodging here. Along the way, you’ll likely spot wildlife like piranhas, giant otters, caimans, and special breeds of monkeys and birds.
Alternatively, you can opt for Amazon cruises to explore the Napo River and surrounding wildlife. You can also travel on a cargo boat to Iquitos, Peru. Approximately three cargo boats are embarking on this journey per month.
El Coca Attractions
The top-ranking attraction in El Caco is The Orellana Archaeological Museum and Cultural Center, popularly known as Macco. Macco is an incredible spectacle in the El Coca landscape, and you won’t want to leave the city without paying a visit. The admission fee is about $2: children and the disabled pay less.
Other sights worth seeing are Yasuní National Park, Huaorani Reserves, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, and Coca Zoo, which offers free admission and an opportunity for guests to make donations.
Ecuadorian cuisine is very varied and very unique enough to inspire culture shock. But don’t worry, they are tasty and affordable. You can try Caldo de gallina, creole chicken soup; viche de Pescado, fish soup; locro de papa, potato soup; seco de chivo, goat stew; humitas, steamed corn; tortade Verde, plantain pie.
The Amazon in Bolivia covers 229,985 square miles (59.6 million hectares), of which roughly two-thirds are forested. Its gateway is located in Rurrenabaque, also called “Rurre” by locals. Rurre is a small town situated on the banks of the Río Beni in the Amazon basin of northern Bolivia.
There are two ways to feel the Amazon experience from this gateway: the jungle or pampas tour.
Jungle tour provides a more tropical feel of the Amazon Rainforest interiors. Opting for this tour option will take you into the thick, steamy jungle near Madidi National Park by hiking. So ensure you procure good waterproof footwear with good soles. It’s usually rare to spot animals during jungle walks due to foliage density. Still, you will surely be compensated with sights of a wide variety of insects, birds, and Amazon Rainforest plant life.
There are several cheap lodging options in Rurrenabaque, like hostels and some hotels. But if you want to tour the jungle, you may find staying at an eco-lodge in the jungle parks more fulfilling.
Pampas tours are quite affordable and arguably the best way to observe lots of wildlife like snakes, anteaters, alligators, squirrel monkeys, pink dolphins, caiman, and much more. Tour guides are usually prone to handling wildlife. Don’t let them do this because it could cause psychological harm to the animals, and an affected animal’s immediate reaction could harm the tour party. Wild animals should only be viewed from a distance.
Rurrenabaque is accessible by land or air, but it’s better to come from La Paz because the road is treacherous and distant. Don’t rely on your credit cards in Rurre. ATMs are scarce, so visit with a lot of cash.
Attractions in Rurrenabaque
Madidi National Park, River Yacuma, Berraco del Madidi, and El Chocolatal Gulf Eco-Resort are nice tourist attractions in Rurrenabaque. El Chocolatal is arguably the most biodiverse golf course in the world. The resort also offers jungle rides on horseback into the surrounding rainforest, where you will be treated with sights of vast bird species, large snakes, and a variety of rare Amazon Rainforest animals. You can also fly through the Amazon rainforest canopy along ten zip lines forty meters above the ground at Wizard’s Mountain Lodge.
Restaurants and corner shops offer affordable meals. There are also bars that mix cocktail with tropical flavors.
Is Amazon Rainforest Still Burning?
Yes, some parts of the Amazon Rainforest are still burning. The Amazon Rainforest wildfires are believed to be carried out by humans. Although not all rainforest parts are affected, the wildfires are causing significant damage to the Amazon Rainforest ecosystem.
The Rainforest Fire Channel was launched by a Toronto-based agency Zulu Alpha Kilo to promote global awareness of the situation. The channel started its live stream of the wildfire on December 16, 2019, and is still streaming today.
On this premise, it’s better to visit the Amazon during the rainy season, which begins from March and runs through July. However, the 2021 rainy season has been patchy, which doesn’t do the wildfire incident any good.
You can ask your lodge management and guides for directions on the safe places to visit. And in every case, it’s recommended you visit the Amazon Rainforest with a group.
A visit to the Amazon Rainforest offers a surreal experience to both adult and tender guests. The biome opens its arms to everyone who adores her. However, you have to be well prepared for this August visit. Pick the right clothes, gear and come with adequate cash.
Also, cultivate the spirit of respect before coming here so that when interacting with the wildlife in the biome, you will know how to keep a respectful distance. Adore them, but do not feed or cuddle the caimans and anacondas. These are wild animals, brethren, and you wouldn’t want to cause the animals any psychological risk through your acts of benevolence.
I wish you a memorable stay out there. Passe de bonnes vacances!