If you are tired of sitting on a beach for every vacation and long for a true sense of adventure that will last a lifetime, then an Amazon rainforest adventure in Ecuador is the perfect getaway for you. A rainforest vacation offers even the casual vacationer a chance to create their own adventure in the heart of one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on the planet.
Planning a Rainforest Vacation
Once you have decided that Ecuador and the Amazon rainforest will be your next destination, it is best to work with a reputable travel agency to arrange your trip. These travel agencies also offer packages that combine rainforest journeys with other trips such as the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu in neighboring Peru. Ecuadorexplorer.com provides a list of tour operators that will help you plan your own adventure.
Amazon Rainforest Accommodations in Ecuador
Lodges in the heart of the rainforest offer daily hiking excursions, tasty local cuisine, and the opportunity to relax with a drink while enjoying the lush green scenery. Cabanas are built using native jungle materials and offer running water, bathrooms, electricity, and a comfortable bed. Three-course meals with paired wine are prepared by trained chefs using fresh, local ingredients. Electricity is provided by generators and shut off at a specific time each evening so make sure you shower and brush your teeth prior to this time.
Rainforest Hikes and Excursions
Hiking through the rainforest will allow you to take in your surroundings and appreciate the beauty and mystery this environment offers. You will feel incredibly small as you walk past the triangular trunks of giant trees that have grown in the jungle for hundreds of years. The green canopy is so thick on top that sunlight does not break through. The rainforest teems with the sounds of life as exotic species of birds, lizards, frogs, and insects can be seen and heard all around you.
If your guide offers nighttime hikes you are bound to be in awe of the total darkness of the rainforest. By turning off your headlamp you become enveloped in complete darkness where you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. You have no choice but to listen to the sounds of all the nocturnal wildlife that have suddenly become active.
Wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest
The wildlife of the rainforest is truly unique and diverse. A canoe ride in the dark with a flashlight will reveal reflecting eyes of caiman looking back at you. Howler monkeys jump around the treetops yelling out their namesake calls. Piranha fishing can be relaxing and if you are lucky you can enjoy your catch with dinner that evening. Watch for tarantulas that come out of their hiding spots at night. Some inns even offer spots for watching out for elusive jaguar which still prowl the jungle.
Bird lovers will enjoy seeing toucans, parrots, and other exotic species from various observation posts. A must-see for bird watching is witnessing the congregation of parrots and parakeets at a salt lick. Hundreds of the birds convene at salt licks for vital nutrients. This event is spectacular to witness as the salt lick suddenly becomes immersed in a sea of green feathers. Your guides will know the exact arrival times of the parakeets so you can arrive in advance and set up your cameras and binoculars.
Indigenous People of the Rainforest
One of the unique experiences offered is an opportunity to meet with the native villagers who have called the rainforest their home for generations. Inns build relationships with these rainforest communities that are mutually beneficial to one another. The lodges employ members of the communities in various capacities while guests have opportunity to visit homes of the locals and talk with them about their experiences. Handmade jewelry and crafts can be purchased and go a long way to helping these families. Target practice with a blowgun is not out of the question, and do not be surprised if adults are offered some of the host’s homemade potent potables, providing for a relaxing return hike. Your guides are all bound to be from these outlying villages so make sure to provide a gratuity for excellent service at the end of your stay.
Preparing for a Rainforest Adventure
Much like the name implies the rain will stop and start and last for hours at a time. Always have your poncho handy. This is especially true when traveling to your destination via canoe where the river offers no cover. The constant rain makes most of the terrain muddy, however most lodges offer long rubber boots to be used by their guests. Clothing dries very slowly so make sure to bring plastic bags for moist clothing on the way home.
Lodges will provide a checklist of items to bring, but some of the essentials are ponchos, headlamps, and insect repellent. You can bring your own rubber boots, however most lodges will provide these and you may not want to pack muddy, wet boots in your bags for the return trip.
Shots for malaria and other diseases are required prior to your rainforest getaway. You will need to consult with your doctor in advance about which shots are required.
Bring enough cash with you as there are no cash machines in the rainforest. Your trip will be paid for in advance but drinks at the lodge and gratuities for the staff will most likely not be included. Cash will also be necessary if you want to purchase arts and crafts from the local villagers.