When visiting the Amazon, visitors today find lodging options of all types and all prices on the outskirts of Manaus, the gateway for those who want to get into the jungle. There are even rustic-chic alternatives, with comfortable infrastructure, with TV, air conditioning, and hot water.
But what about insects? What do you have to do over there? When is the best time to go? It’s safe? A series of questions goes through the minds of those who travel to the Amazon for the first time. To help you organize your trip, we ask travelers and tourism professionals some of the most common questions of those planning this type of trip.
– Do I stay in a jungle hotel or on a cruise?
Both jungle hotels and boat cruises are good options for those who want to get to know the Amazon in comfort and without high emotions. Both offer almost the same tours included in the package. Therefore, when choosing between one and the other, you must take into account the type of experience you want to have.
“In a jungle hotel, you are in contact with nature all the time, you also interact more with the local community and get to know the region where you are staying better,” says Glen Gamper, Operations Manager at Ambiental Turismo, an agency specializing in nature destinations. “On the other hand, on the ship, you have the advantage of traveling a far greater distance and sleeping in different places. The landscape always changes, and the experience of navigating the rivers is unique,” he explains.
– Okay, but what do I do in the Amazon Rainforest?
Jungle hotels and cruises have a daily activity schedule. The primary means of accommodation in Amazonas usually include alligator spotting (observation tour), walking in the forest, visiting an indigenous community, fishing for piranha, going to meet the waters and walking to see the pink dolphin. “At night, when there is no night tour, we are a little helpless, but we are so tired of the excursions and waking up early that we sleep early too,” says lawyer Daniela Oliveira, 28, who spent the last year’s carnival at the Amazon Ecopark jungle hotel.
– Will mosquitoes eat me?
With forests everywhere, far from civilization, being attacked by mosquitoes and rubber birds is a fact, right? Not exactly. The Negro River, where most of the jungle hotels are located, has a high degree of acidity, and, because of this, insects do not reproduce.
“In Ilhabela (north coast of São Paulo), for example, there are many more insects than in this region of the Amazon. Hotels and ships also have a mosquito net on the window. Just use repellent,” says Barbara Farga, Product Manager at the travel agency Auroraeco. In the forays into the jungle, there are more insects. To get rid of the bites, Barbara recommends, in addition to the repellent, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
– When is the best time to go?
The North region is divided into two seasons. In the rainy season, which runs from December to May, boats can travel longer distances, trips are more comfortable, and you can take canoe trips through the igapós (flooded forest). However, the drought period, from July to November, is ideal for taking advantage of the river beaches, which disappear when the river is full. “As it is hot and rainy all year, it is difficult to say when is the best time to go. You can enjoy it every month,” says Ricardo Pedroso, from Amazonas by Vivaverde travel agency.
– How long to stay?
Four or five days in a jungle hotel or on a cruise is enough time to enjoy the location without the tours becoming repetitive, according to travelers and travel agents. “I stayed five days, and I thought it was enough. Less, I think I would miss a lot of cool stuff. I didn’t even have time to do all the tours I wanted, like the Meeting of the Waters (the confluence between the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões)”, says doctor Walter Aranda. He took advantage of his vacation at Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, in December last year.
– What can I not fail to take?
In the suitcase, but light and comfortable clothes, hat, bathing suits, repellent and the drug with the usual medicines. For walks in the woods, bring light trousers, avoiding jeans. As it rains a lot, it is good to bring a raincoat and comfortable sneakers. Taking money is also essential, as doctor Walter Aranda recalls. “On the tour to the indigenous community, there are handmade products to buy, and you will need money. In addition, the hotel I stayed in did not accept a card. I had to go back to Manaus to cash out,” he recalls.
– Will I see animals everywhere?
Despite having the greatest biodiversity on the planet, observing animals in the Amazon is not as easy as in other regions, such as the Pantanal. “Many tourists believe that they will see all those animals shown in the documentaries and end up being disappointed,” says Ricardo Pedroso, owner of Amazonas by Vivererde, a travel agency located in Manaus. According to the professional, during the forays into the forest, you can see birds, some monkeys, alligators, porpoises, and one or another sloth. But land mammals, such as tapir, pace, and jaguar, are hardly observed.
– Do I need a vaccine? What health care?
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for the entire northern region of the country, but it is not mandatory. It is also worth updating the tetanus vaccine. Also, be sure to prepare the travel medicine with the medications you usually take. In the middle of the jungle, it is good not to have the remedies available.
– Which jungle hotel to stay?
For those who do not give up comfort, there are jungle hotels with good infrastructure, with air conditioning and hot water. They all include daily activities, transfers, and all meals in the package. The Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, a three-hour drive from Manaus, is close to the Anavilhanas river archipelago and is part of the Roteiros de Charme association. The two-night package costs R $ 1,420 per person. Amazon Ecopark Lodge is a 30-minute boat ride from Manaus. With comfortable bungalows, it has a private beach in the dry months and a natural pool. Two nights cost R $ 1,030 per person. The most picturesque of the Amazon jungle hotels, the Ariaú Amazon Towers, 1h30 away by boat from Manaus, is on stilts, at the height of the treetops, and has more rustic rooms. On the banks of the Negro River, Tiwa Amazonas Eco Resort is close to Manaus, just 15 minutes by speedboat. It has 25 bungalows, Wi-Fi internet, and a swimming pool with a bar. The two-night package costs R $ 800 per person.