Choosing Your Amazon Destination
Like every good trip, your best Trails in the Amazon journey starts with picking a destination. This may take some time since the Amazon stretches through nine countries. Narrow the field a bit by choosing a country with a reliable, visitor-friendly infrastructure in place to keep you from getting lost in a jungle where roads don’t exist, wild animals still roam and Wi-Fi remains a distant hope.
From multi-day tours with planned stops at primitive but comfortable lodging to one-day excursions that get you back to your luxury suite in time for dinner, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador offer numerous opportunities to explore the rainforest on foot.
Best Trails in the Amazon
Brazil contains 60 percent of the Amazon within its borders; Manaus is a popular city from which to start a guided trek, and it often begins with a river cruise to one of the best trails in the Amazon. Expect offers from numerous tour operators once you’ve arrived in Manaus. Base your selection on positive reviews from reliable sources, such as previous travelers or your hotel’s administrative staff.
Other popular Amazonian hiking destinations in Brazil include Lago Janauari Ecological Park, Jaú National Park and the Anavilhanas Archipelago.
If you’d rather start with a less challenging but equally fascinating Brazilian experience, try a self-guided day hike that you can reach by taxi from Manaus. The Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research has carved 32 acres from the rainforest and opened it to the public.
Macaws, sloths, spider monkeys and other Amazonian wildlife roam free along the institute’s paths, which are lined with kapok trees, ficus and other native flora. An elevated walkway brings you up to the lower canopy, which is home to numerous small reptiles and frogs as well as a thriving display of orchids and bromeliads.
Peru is home to the Amazonian Tahuayo Reserve, but you’ll need a trained guide to journey here. Extras at Tahuayo Lodge include entrance to the carefully protected 52-mile grid of hiking on the best trails in the Amazon, surrounding the Tahuayo Lodge Amazon Research Center.
It requires a scenic boat trip to reach the center, where you might get a glimpse of pink dolphins breaking the surface of the river along the way. Once there, you can expect to witness all the flora and fauna the Amazon has to offer its hikers, including 40 resident primate groups.
If you’re traveling to Ecuador, don’t miss a visit to Yasuni National Park. The Napo Wildlife Center is located within the park, and it offers to lodge for hikers that include 16 cabins. The center is owned and operated by the Kichwa Añangu community, and some of its members lead adventures into this wildlife-rich portion of the best trails in the Amazon.
Fewer crowds make their way to Bolivia’s Amazon. You can generally expect a less-costly and, as some would say, a more authentic Amazonian hiking adventure. Regardless of your chosen destination, however, the Amazon rainforest is well worth the trip.
What to Bring Along on Your Amazon Rainforest Hike
A slouchy hat with a wide brim that circles your head is the best choice for the jungle since it keeps the sun off your face and neck and helps divert rainwater away from your head. It is the rainforest, after all. You can expect daily rain showers even during the “less-wet” season.
Long pants and socks and lightweight long-sleeved T-shirts doused in bug spray, with more in your pack for reapplication, will help prevent insect bites, some of them anyway. Waterproof but good-fitting hiking shoes or boots are another musts. Throw in a rain poncho, sunglasses, plenty of sunscreens, extra water and a trustworthy camera to record your visit.
Toss that traditional backpack and purchase a five-star, lightweight “dry bag” for the hike. If your local sporting goods store is lacking, a quick internet search provides a multitude of choices. Choose one that’s proven to keep electronics as well as clothing dry.
Your guide may recommend you bring along other, region-specific items as well. Take this advice seriously because you never know what you may meet on an Amazon rainforest hike.