For many travelers, visiting the Amazon jungle is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and since the Amazonian environment isn’t like anywhere else, it can be difficult to know what to pack. Knowing what to wear in Amazon Rainforest can help avoid packing unnecessary items in your suitcase and keep you at your most comfortable in its tropical conditions.
Even though Amazon Rainforest tours and Amazon river cruises have varying amenities and comfort levels, most jungle excursions are very similar. So whether it’s bird watching in the early hours on a skiff, trekking through the rainforest looking for wildlife, kayaking on the Amazon River, or relaxing on the deck in the evenings, your gear will be similar.
Using all our years of experience in the region, we’ve come up with the ultimate jungle packing list, including what to wear in the Amazon, what toiletries and equipment to take, and importantly what not to take with you on your rainforest adventure.
Dry-Fit Clothing: Loose-fitting, dry-fit clothing is the best choice to conquer the Amazon jungle heat. It’s very humid in the Amazon and it can take days for clothing to dry.
Long Sleeve Shirts and Pants: Even though it’s very hot in the jungle, you’ll need to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect you from the sun, and more importantly, the mosquitos. Make sure the shirts and pants are light-colored and breathable, as well as loose-fitting. Mosquitos are attracted to dark colors and will bite through tight-fitted clothes. Columbia Sportswear has a great selection of quick-dry, breathable clothing.
Clothes to wear around the riverboat in the evenings: Loose-fitted, cotton clothes are best to wear on board the riverboat during your lounge hours.
Shoes and Socks: In the jungle, the best form of footwear is the traditional rubber boot, or ‘Wellington’. Expensive hiking boots are great, but the protection provided by simple rubber boots is ideal. Not only will your feet remain completely dry, but because boots rise up to below your knee, you have additional protection from insects, snakes, and thorny vines and shrubs.
Most luxury Amazon river cruises provide you with rubber boots (Wellington boots) for your jungle excursions. Be sure to check with your cruise ahead of time, as rubber boots are the best option for jungle walks. Make sure to bring extra pairs of socks, you will need them! While on board the riverboat, many travelers enjoy wearing flip flops, or comfortable slip-on shoes. Crocs are a great option, they are easy to clean and dry quickly!
Light Windbreaker Jacket: A light, hooded, waterproof windbreaker is great to have on hand for a cooler early morning jungle excursion, or for getting caught in the rain! Most Amazon adventure river cruises will provide you with a rain poncho during a rainforest shower, however, ponchos tend to be heavy and uncomfortable.
Clean clothes for the plane ride: Don’t forget to pack clean clothes for your plane ride home. Most of your clothing will be damp from the jungle’s humid climate. It’s a good idea to keep clean clothes in a plastic bag while in your luggage.
Wide-brimmed Hat: A light-colored, dry-fit hat with a wide brim will help protect you from the sun and mosquitos. It’s important to get a hat that has a “back-flap” to protect your neck from sunburns. Hats are very important in the Amazon jungle.
Headband: For women with long hair or bangs, it’s very useful to wear a headband. The Amazon jungle’s humidity might make a mess of your hair, so it’s best to keep it pulled back.
Hair Elastics: Many of the cruise’s jungle excursions can be quite active, so for optimal comfort, those who have long hair should keep it pulled back.
DEET Bug Spray: The only way to prevent mosquito bites in the Amazon rainforest is to use a bug spray high in Deet. Spraying your clothes with Deet will also help keep those pesky mosquitos off. Note that some cruise boats do not allow you to spray Deet in the cabins as Deet can ruin the finishings on wood floors.
Medication: It’s very important to pack all daily medication and a photocopy of your prescription. It’s very difficult to find pharmacies in the remote Amazon jungle, so it is best to have all your medical supplies on hand. It is a good idea to pick up some off-the-counter medication (Tylenol, Pepto Bismol) or you can ask your doctor to prescribe you a cycle of antibiotics, just in case!
High SPF and Waterproof Sunscreen: The sun in this part of the world is very strong, you will definitely need a good quality, high SPF sunscreen. Waterproof is best, since the jungle can get very sweaty, and your itinerary might include swimming with river dolphins.
Hand Sanitizer and Cleansing Wipes: Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack is a good idea in case you need to wash your hands while deep in the Amazon rainforest. It’s also useful to carry some cleansing wipes, to freshen up mid-day. Remember to always take your used cleaning wipes with you, and dispose of them in an appropriate place.
Hydrocortisone Cream: Even though you’ll do your best to protect yourself from mosquitos by wearing long-sleeved clothing and using deet, you are bound to experience at least one bite. It’s inevitable in the vast Amazon jungle. Hydrocortisone cream will help ease the itch, redness, and swelling, caused by insect bites.
Malaria Tablets: Ask your local travel doctor if Malaria tablets will be required for your area of travel.
Biodegradable Shampoo/Soap: Most cruises will provide you with shampoo and soap, but it’s always a good idea to have an extra travel-size bottle on hand. Don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste, those are not provided.
Binoculars: In the Amazon, you will have great opportunities to see an incredible diversity of wildlife, but generally not great densities. Most of the Amazon’s wildlife is up high in the treetops, with three-toed sloths, monkeys, and macaws all frequently spotted in their canopy habitat. Not all cruises offer binoculars, so owning a good pair of binoculars with strong magnification is a must, and well worth the investment.
Digital Camera with Extra Memory Cards: The Amazon jungle will present you with many photo opportunities. Passing by jungle sceneries, colorful sunsets, and the Amazon’s flora and fauna will begin to fill your memory card very quickly. Pack an extra memory card in case you run out of space!
If possible, keep your binoculars and camera outside of your air-conditioned cabins if possible – you don’t want to miss out on spotting something or a great photo due to foggy lenses! Storing your camera with silica gel to mitigate humidity is a good idea. Some boats have special humidity-free compartments for convenient storage.
Plastic Zip-Loc Bags: Shower caps or dry bags can also be used instead of Zip-Loc bags. These bags are perfect to store any electronic devices, or pieces of clothing you want to keep dry (socks, clean clothes).
Backpack: A comfortable backpack will work best for your jungle treks. Avoid using a satchel bag (or a purse).
Sunglasses: A good pair of sunglasses will protect you from the sun’s UV rays. Try not to bring an expensive pair of sunglasses in case you lose them in the Amazon river!
Flashlight or Headlamp: Not all cruises or lodges provide flashlights. You’ll need a flashlight or a headlamp for night jungle walks to spot snakes, caimans, and other nocturnal species. Some cruises and lodges turn off their power supply at night, and by this time, the Amazon jungle is very dark. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll need your flashlight to move around. Don’t forget to pack a set of backup batteries.
Cash for Tips and Souvenirs: Bring small denominations of cash for souvenir purchases at the local markets. You’ll also need cash for tipping your Amazon guides and crew. Most places will not accept credit cards, and it will be very difficult to find an ATM machine.
Black Clothing: Keep all of your black clothes at home. Black clothes attract mosquitos and other insects. Additionally, trekking around the jungle under the Amazonian sun, wearing black clothes, will leave you tired and exhausted.
Work Laptop: With wildlife excursions in the morning, activities in the afternoon, and cocktails in the evening, you won’t have the time to log on to your computer. Wi-fi is rarely available while in the remote Amazon Rainforest. Even if you do manage to get online, the connection will not be very strong. Besides, you won’t want to miss seeing pink river dolphins swimming by, or a pack of squirrel monkeys migrating through the jungle canopy.
Tight Clothing: The Amazon jungle is very sweaty, wearing loose, airy clothing will help you feel fresh and comfortable throughout all jungle excursions. Besides, mosquitos are able to bite through tight clothes!
Make-Up: There is no use for makeup in the Amazon jungle. Weather temperatures are high throughout the day and there is always a chance of showers (it is the rainforest after all!).
Jewelry: It’s best to leave your most valuable jewelry at home to prevent any from getting lost in the remote Amazon jungle. Since the cruise excursions are usually quite active (piranha fishing, Amazon cooking, etc…) it might not be comfortable wearing rings or bracelets. Some travelers have commented that their fingers were slightly swollen from the heat, making their rings very uncomfortable to wear.
Candies and Sweets: School supplies or clothing are the best gifts to bring to Amazon communities. While all the children enjoy receiving candies and sweets, most of them do not have access to dental care and they lack proper nutrition. Notebooks, pencil crayons, markers, rulers, and other school supplies are much more beneficial to the community. Please consult our responsible travel page for further information on how dedicating a little space in your luggage to bring useful donations can make a big difference to the communities you visit.
Now you know what to pack for the Amazon Rainforest using our jungle packing list, you can start packing that suitcase safe in the knowledge you’ll be well prepared for everything the amazing Amazon region has in store for you, even its incredible and sometimes unexpected wildlife encounters.
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