By Camilla Campbell
Have a trip booked to the Amazon but not 100% sure if you really NEED to pack that 10th bottle of deet or whether you need to trot down to Kathmandu to get kitted out in the newest khaki zip-off trousers and matching long-sleeve breathable shirt (yes, these are all thoughts I had)? Well stress no more. I recently returned from a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon and have thoughtfully compiled a list of my packing essentials for any trip to this beautiful part of the world.
- Insect Repellent Now I know I made a joke about this (re-read the above if you missed it) but it is 100% necessary to pack an insect repellent with deet (at least 20-50%). The area of the Amazon that I went to was malaria-free so I was able to walk around in t-shirts and shorts, provided that I wore insect repellent. Apply it everywhere and apply it often. Your travel doctor will be able to advise you on which ones are best.
- Sunscreen/Sunblock/Suntan Lotion (pick your wording of choice) We Aussies like to think that we can handle a bit of sun. I mean, do we or do we not have some of the hottest summers in the world? However, the sun in this part of the world is something else. Yes it is literally located on the equator (hence the name Ecuador… get it?) and the sun here is deceivingly aggressive. It felt continuously overcast during my stay but boy did that sun bite! So, ensure that you pack plenty of sunblock… that’s what I’m trying to say here.
- Long Socks A bit random I know… but hear me out. One of the activities that you will get to do during your stay is jungle walks/hikes (we did about three during my four-day stay) and for these hikes you can wear gumboots/wellies – many lodges will provide these for you, check with your travel consultant if you’re not sure. Now, because it is so hot and humid in the Amazon you are going to want that sweet, sweet protective layer between your leg skin and the inner boot so pack a few pairs of long socks because they will get sweaty and it is near impossible to dry anything in that climate.
- A Hat This one is pretty self-explanatory. Refer to point two if you need any clarification.
- Camera Again, this one is quite self-explanatory. If you have any large lenses, then I strongly suggest packing them as the wildlife can often be difficult to capture with a regular camera or on your phone. I would also suggest that you take some sort of humidity-protector for your camera as the moisture in the air can destroy your equipment. Also, you don’t want to get caught out on a canoe trip when a storm hits and your camera is exposed (speaking from personal experience).
- Something to Read/Write/Watch A book, a magazine, love letters from your high school sweetheart, one of my many blog posts (or all of them), you must must MUST pack some reading material for your Amazon trip. The way that most of the excursions work is that you wake up early in the morning (around 5am) and head out on your first activity by 6am. You will then return to the lodge around 10/11am with free time until around 4pm with lunch in between. Now, I’m no maths genius but that’s around five hours of relaxation time that you have. Of course you can catch up on the precious sleep that you missed out on but there is only so much napping you can do (my perpetually tired sister would disagree with that) so my recommendation here is to make sure that you have something on hand to read… or a journal… or your favourite crime docu-series (pre-download before you arrive in case there isn’t any WiFi. Also, if you’re looking for any recommendations just shoot me an email.) Of course, there is always the option to just sit back, relax and take in the Amazon that surrounds you without any distractions.
- Thongs/Jandles/Slides/Flip Flops In hindsight I probably should have put this one after number three but here we are. After a morning or afternoon of exploring the jungle in your hot gumboots you are going to want to free those toots so pack some open footwear for getting around the lodge. Your feet will thank you for it (I will also personally accept any thanks from anyone who reads this and packs them).
- Cash Now, I’m not sure how many Amazon packing blogs you’ve read before you got to mine (I’d like to think that you came straight to mine), but you may find some that say that you don’t need any cash for your stay – I mean, it’s 2019, everyone has eftpos right? Wrong. You know who doesn’t have eftpos? The remote Amazon communities who you will most likely visit and who you will most likely want to purchase some little gifts from. So, take a little cash with you (smaller denominations are preferable) so that you can hit the shopping boutiques – Amazon-style (feel free to let your husband/partner/significant other wait outside)! Some of these communities will also charge a small entry fee so keep that in mind as well (I paid US$5 for my visit).
Now, with all this being said, different parts of the Amazon require different things (e.g. is Malaria present? If so, you will need long-sleeved shirts and long pants etc.) so keep in mind that this is just a guide and is based on my personal experience. If you aren’t sure, contact your travel consultant who will be more than happy to provide you with more information. I stayed at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon located across the Napo River from the Yasuni National Park.
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