The Amazon Rainforest is truly like no other place on Earth, the ultimate haven for wildlife and nature lovers. This remarkable realm has a host of activities for adventurous explorers from which to spot and appreciate its incredible array of flora and fauna, whether staying in a luxurious jungle lodge or venturing deep into some of the Amazon’s largest protected reserves on an Amazon river cruise.
On your Amazon vacation, you’ll experience some of the most exciting adventures imaginable on Amazon Rainforest activities accompanied by a bilingual naturalist guide, to ensure your safety and enjoyment. To give you an idea of what’s in store, here is our list of the top 15 activities to do in the amazon rainforest:
A jungle walk through the Amazon rainforest is a wonderful experience where you’ll not only see the Amazon’s unique wildlife but also learn about the various medicinal plants that have been used for decades. On the ground look out for anaconda snakes, tarantulas, poison dart frogs, rubber trees, and pineapple flowers. If you look up, you might be lucky enough to see a three-toed sloth hanging from a tree, or a group of squirrel monkeys jumping through the rainforest canopy. Even though the Amazon jungle has more than 1/3 of all animal species recorded in the world, including 1/5 of all birds on earth, it’s still difficult to predict exactly what animals you’ll see. Be sure to stay alert with your best binoculars close by!
Piranha fishing is a favorite activity among travelers to the Amazon River. These red-bellied fish are often portrayed as dangerous creatures, that can strip their prey down to the bones in seconds. Fortunately, for Amazon riverboat travelers, that is just a pop culture myth, and we can assure guests that they face no significant threat from these tiny fish. In reality, around 20 different species of piranha can be found swimming freely in the Amazon – and of those, many are omnivorous or entirely vegetarian, subsisting largely on a diet of aquatic plants supplemented with a few native seeds. This excursion typically occurs in the afternoon, from a skiff. You’ll use a traditional wooden rode and your Amazon cruise guide will provide you with bait. Bring back your catch and your cruise’s chef will be happy to grill them up for dinner – piranhas are surprisingly tasty.
Getting the opportunity to visit a local Amazonian community is a very rewarding and eye-opening experience. During this activity, you will interact with locals and get to know how they live their life in the Amazon Jungle. Some cruises stop in San Francisco, a Peruvian village that is home to a local school. Here you will be welcomed by school children and their teachers, and you’ll see firsthand how their classroom works on a daily basis. Some cruises visit the Bora Community, an Amazonian tribe that maintains most of their original beliefs and customs. Visit their ceremonial lodge, called the Maloca, and witness an exhilarating, stick-thumping, traditional dance performance. If you wish to purchase souvenirs, don’t forget to bring some spending money with you, artisans often display their beautiful and unique handicrafts during community visits.
Pink dolphins are rare and unique to the Amazon and Orinoco rivers in South America, and you will most likely see Pink River Dolphins during your time in the Amazon. While onboard the Amazon river cruises in Brazil, guests may visit a floating pier, where they can wade in the water while Pink River Dolphins are offered fish. It’s very exciting to be up close to these prehistoric-looking creatures!
Guests on the Delfin I Amazon riverboat can now enjoy the very popular SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) activity on the Amazon river in Peru. This water sport originated in Hawaii but has now become a trending topic among water sport enthusiasts across North America. Stand-up paddle boarding can be enjoyed by folks of all ages. It’s a cross between surfing and canoeing, on a large and stable surfboard that can be paddled. The Amazon river is perfect for SUP since the water is calm, making it easy to balance and paddle – indeed some crazy folks traveled 1300 km by SUP along the Amazon back in 2013. What’s more, on a stand-up paddleboard you’ll be able to explore shallower areas of the Amazon that are not navigable by boat!
Many Amazon River cruises, offer kayaking, allowing guests to quietly paddle in the most remote areas of the rainforest. Paddle with a skilled guide to observing the magnificent flora and fauna of the Amazon. Kayak excursions often take place first thing in the morning, a prime bird-watching hour. Guides will help paddlers, both novice and experienced, to safely enjoy this extraordinary rainforest experience. Please note that the guides are local, with expert knowledge of the river and its currents. These excursions usually last 2-hours and are followed by a skiff, in case anyone needs a rest before the excursion is over.
Immerse yourself up high in the jungle canopy. Most of the Amazon’s wildlife lives in the treetops of the forest. Some lucky guests will take the 500m to walk across the La Posada canopy bridge in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Guests will get a unique view of the ecosystem at a height of over 25m / 85ft. The walkway is hung between 14 large trees and is one of the longest in the world, and yet no special skills or equipment are needed to enjoy it.
If you are brave enough, jump into the Amazon river and go for a swim! Most Amazon cruises make time for a swimming excursion for those adventurous travelers wanting to cool off from the Amazonian heat!
Most Peruvian Amazon River cruises make a stop at the Manatee Rescue Centre just outside of Iquitos. Here, young manatees are rescued from the pet trade and are raised by staff. Orphaned and injured animals are cared for and rehabilitated, in order to be released back into the rainforest. At the Manatee Rescue Centre, guests will be able to feed baby manatees and spend time with sloths, anteaters, and monkeys.
If you’re feeling brave enough, why not consider a thrilling overnight stay in the rainforest with glamorous camping or ‘glamping’ experience, with the sounds of the jungle all around you. Travelers can now camp in the Amazon in luxury tents set above ground on wooden platforms, with comfortable beds and charming rustic furniture, and get to enjoy gourmet meals, waiter-served champagne, and relaxing, steamy hot showers. Glamping is available on select Ecuador Amazon cruise itineraries.
Around a quarter of the pharmaceuticals commonly used in the Western world derive from natural materials and medicinal plants found in the Amazon Rainforest. Effective or promising treatments have been found here for everything from gastric problems to mental health issues, cancer to diabetes. Some you will have heard of, like Brazilian Ginseng (Suma), widely used as an energy supplement and immune system booster. Others are less well-known outside of the area – including the bark of the Tawari Tree, commonly used to treat inflammation and regarded as having strong potential for fighting cancerous tumors, and the oddly-named digestion aid, Cola de Raton (Rat’s Tail).
There is a great selection of delicious traditional Amazonian meals served up in the rainforest area, made from a dizzying array of natural resources native to the Amazon. Fish is understandably a real staple: in Ecuador and Peru, you’ll find ceviche widely available, in which raw fish is marinated with a mixture of citrus juice and spices, and served with plantain chips and salad. In Brazil piranha soup is popular. Juanes – a delicious muddle of rice and meat (pork or chicken) rolled in banana leaves – are also very common, particularly on market stalls and street corners in the Peruvian Amazon.
If you’re feeling brave, head to the local markets to take in the flavors and ingredients used in the region. There you can try incredible superfoods, exotic fruits, aphrodisiac liqueurs, and even sample treats made from the wildly abundant insect life in the region, including the grub-like suri. These low-fat, high-protein snacks are most often served skewered on wooden sticks and grilled, and have a woody, nutty crunch with a remarkably pleasant savory flavor.
The Amazon rainforest national parks are designated protected areas that offer remarkable natural formations, incredible biodiversity, or both. Amazon river cruises in Peru sail through the pristine Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, home to a stunning array of birds and butterflies, and a protected collection of flora and fauna amongst the most diverse in the entire Amazon. In Brazil, the Anavilhanas Archipelago is a breathtaking sight. This complex of over 400 unique islands in the middle of the Amazon River offers something different to explore with each season, as water levels change drastically. The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is another notable national park, whose 2.5 million untouched acres of wilderness are home to varied landscapes and Amazonian tribes.
Admittedly this isn’t an activity Amazon River tours- but it’s an option! Every year a jungle marathon takes place in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest, and runners have the chance to battle the elements on a multiple-day journey to the finish line. Naturally, most competitors are eager to spend a few days unwinding afterward, which is where cruises come in. If running a marathon in the Amazon is calling your name, plan your Amazon river cruise to start the day (and place) the marathon ends for an easy transition into the good life onboard.
For those keen golfers who find it hard to say goodbye to their five iron while on vacation, fear not, two of the most popular Amazon destinations have you covered. Both Iquitos in Peru and Manaus in Brazil have courses to offer. The Amazon Golf Course in Iquitos, Peru is ideal for thrill-seeking golfers as it is the only golf course in the world where a machete is a standard issue with clubs, the water traps are filled with piranhas, caiman like to bask in the bunkers, and it is not unheard of to encounter snakes on the fairway. The Amazonia Golf Resort in Manaus, Brazil is a little more luxurious, featuring a 4-star hotel and spa with its 72-par, 18-hole golf course.
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