We are often asked whether going to the Amazon Rainforest with kids is a good idea or not. Young families are just as eager to visit the world’s largest rainforest as anybody else, but are Amazon vacations with children really a wise choice? We say so long as your kids aren’t too young, then unequivocally yes! Here’s why.
South American society – and especially the indigenous communities of the Amazon – hold children in high regard and the locals have a very hands-on approach to rearing kids. You can be assured that some of your naturalist guides will have children of their own, and will have plenty of experience and no hesitation in interacting with your younger family members.
Moreover, we feel that taking children to wilderness destinations, especially those rich in plant and animal diversity, is important. Visiting foreign countries and exposing children to new cultures and environments is a great investment in your child’s future. Our children are the generation that will inherit the planet, in whichever shape we leave it in, and will undoubtedly face hard decisions on how to deal with the challenges humanity will bequeath them. The Amazon Basin is arguably the most vital ecosystem on the planet, and a lesson on its importance during developmental years will surely help to shape children into compassionate, responsible adults.
Yes, the Amazon Rainforest is safe for kids, so long as all safety measures advised by your tour guide are followed diligently, and the wildlife and plants are treated with great respect. The Amazon is an amazing place but also a wild one. Amidst its incredible diversity there lies many hidden dangers, like poisonous plants and camouflaged critters, as well as the more famous dangers of being bitten by mosquitoes. These aren’t dangers specific to children though, and careful caution is advised for all explorers, old and young.
Cruise-wise, Amazon riverboats have extremely stringent safety checks on a regular basis, and most have sophisticated equipment, medical instruments, and contingency plans in place in case of emergencies. What’s more, they have strict minimum age requirements in place to help ensure the safety of your children, with those above them being able to follow important safety protocols.
In our view, the decision to take a child to the Amazon Rainforest is less about safety and more about the quality of the experience for them.
For those considering an Amazon river cruise with their family, it is worth bearing in mind that many boat operators put age restrictions on their cruises, typically of 7 years and up, although there is a loophole whereby a private Amazon charter vessel can be arranged which usually have no minimum age restrictions. A charter also has the added benefit of being able to customize excursions to your family’s needs – so you can shorten or even avoid jungle hikes that may have otherwise tired out or not appealed to your little ones. The age restriction is in place more to guarantee the quality of the experience of other adults, as well as the general safety of children.
Several vessels have family-friendly accommodations with roomy cabins with enough space to add foldout beds for smaller children, or even having interconnecting rooms to give older kids their own independence – and parents their own space! Cruises with more water-based activities are often considered a better alternative to lodging stays for families whose regular rainforest walks can be very tiring for kids. The options for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are very popular with active teenagers.
Whilst on board parents should remember there can be long periods of downtime, usually in the form of slow navigations between destinations. Most Amazon riverboats have books, board games, and video games available for children in their libraries and lounges to keep them occupied during these hours, however, it’s recommended to pack your own favorites just in case. Keep in mind that there is rarely any access to the Internet (apart from in the Ecuadorian Amazon), so don’t rely on Netflix keeping them entertained. That being said, there is hardly any time to go online while out and about in the Amazon rainforest anyway.
If you have kids and want to treat them to an adventure in the Amazon Rainforest, be sure that both you and the children are correctly informed. If your kids have qualities that include patience, self-control, curiosity, and a spirit of adventure, you may just have the ideal family vacation.
We do not know at which age these qualities come into bloom: for some, it occurs quite young, and for others, it may never happen. What we do know is that for those prepared, an Amazon Rainforest vacation can be a life-changer. And, when combining the Amazon with other destinations such as Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, or the Amazon with the Galapagos Islands, you will have built lasting, family memories to be shared for years to come.
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