1. When is the best time to go to the Amazon?
You can really visit the Amazon any time of year. Wildlife viewing and weather patterns are not especially different from one season to the next. Expect heat, humidity, and rain year round. The lodges that are further south (i.e. in Bolivia and Peru) tend to have a slightly wetter season from December to April and a slightly drier season for the opposite months. These lodges will likely be a bit less crowded during the wetter season. Flights to/from the lodges can also be less reliable so it helps to have an itinerary that is a bit flexible, with at least one free day before your international flight home. This is especially important for travelers visiting Chalalan Lodge in Bolivia during the wettest months of December to April. Click here for additional details on Amazon Weather.
Overall, the subtle weather differences from one season to the next in the Amazon do not need to dictate your plans. Instead, plan your Amazon tour around the dates that best fit your own schedule and that coordinate best with the weather considerations at other destinations that you are visiting on the same trip (ie Machu Picchu, Galapagos, etc.). Keep in mind that school holidays throughout the year are likely to bring higher numbers of kids to these lodges and larger crowds in general.
2. What are accommodations like?
All of the Amazon lodges are constructed of traditional materials designed to minimize the impact on the local environment and maintain the ambiance of the rainforest. Accommodations vary from simple and rustic to quite comfortable. All of the lodges offer running water, showers and flush toilets. The most remote lodges such as Chalalan and Tambopata have shared bathrooms and do not have electricity (Chalalan has limited electricity) or hot water. They are a great choice for adventurous travelers interested in truly getting away from the distractions of modern life and experiencing the rainforest in the most authentic way possible.
Slightly less isolated lodges such as Sacha Lodge and Sandoval Lake Lodge include many more creature comforts. They have private baths, hot water, electricity, and fans in the room. These are great options for travelers of any age, providing an authentic rainforest experience without sacrificing all of the comforts of home. Click here for additional details on Amazon Hotels
3. What is the food like?
The food at all of the Amazon lodges is excellent, fresh, and authentic. Generally, the lodges seek to provide a mixture of local and international cuisine. Jungle fruits, vegetables, and juices provide a uniquely fresh flair that is unmatched in more temperate climates. Although menu choices are limited at the most remote lodges, all can accommodate vegetarians or other common dietary preferences if sufficient notice is provided.
4. What are the tour leaders like?
Like all of our tour leaders, the Amazon guides are exceptional! They are fluent in English (some tours also have a second native guide who may only speak limited English) and generally speak the local jungle language(s) and Spanish as well. They are trained in biology or ecology and specialize in jungle guiding, giving them a unique ability to spot elusive wildlife. Some lodges, such as Sacha, employ both a native guide from the local area and a biologist guide with formal training.
5. Are these trips suitable for kids?
These tours are an excellent choice for kids who are interested in wildlife and the outdoors. Spotting colorful macaws flying overhead, listening to howler monkeys roar in the trees, and climbing into the rainforest canopy inspire the wonder in all of us and can be particularly fascinating for children. Most lodges do not have electricity so they are not a good choice for kids who rely on television and video games for entertainment. Some lodges require much longer transfer times to reach or are particularly remote and rustic. Ask your trip coordinator for recommendations. Some vaccinations and malaria preventatives are also recommended for these tours. Some of these cannot be given to children under a certain age/ weight, though alternatives are generally available. Ask your pediatrician for advice before booking your tour.
6. What is the typical age range for these tours?
We have had travelers of nearly every age on our Amazon tours
. These trips commonly attract multi-generational families as well as young honeymooners or adventurous single travelers. Travelers of any age can likely find an Amazon option where they will fit right in.
7. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Most lodges arrange small group tours (6 or less) so these tours are a great choice for single travelers interested in getting to know a small group of other travelers. Some lodges are easier to coordinate for single travelers than others. Sacha Lodge and Tambopata are particularly good options. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
8. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You are welcome to book these on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.
9. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
We can arrange for a private driver to meet you, or you can also take a taxi. A taxi is a bit cheaper, but some travelers prefer to have a driver meet them after a long international flight. All your domestic transfers will be included (transfers once the tour has started).
10. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
11. Are there any discounts available?
We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our travel discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
12. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Amazon tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better, especially during dry season. Some lodges fill up 6 months in advance or more during the most popular dry season departures (esp. June - August). During the wet season, travelers can often book last minute, though 2-3 months notice is still recommended to give you time to arrange vaccinations, international flights, etc. We also recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces.
13. Are tour dates flexible?
Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
14. Can I extend or change my stay?
Amazon tours can be added to other trips in Peru, Ecuador, or Bolivia. Extra days can also be arranged at most lodges if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
15. What vaccinations are required?
For most Amazon destinations, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended. Malaria preventatives are also recommended at many of the more remote lodges. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site at www.cdc.gov
16. How bad are the insects? Should I bring mosquito netting?
Expect bugs in the Amazon. The warm, humid environment provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other troublesome insects. That said, many travelers are surprised that the bugs are not nearly as prevalent as they expect. The diverse bird populations near most Amazon lodges help to keep insect populations in check and travelers are often too busy enjoying the sites and sounds of the jungle to be bothered by the lingering insects that remain.
Mosquito breeding is heavily dependent upon the weather, however, and the number of insects can change dramatically from one day to the next, depending upon the amount of standing water and other weather factors. It is always a good idea to take reasonable precautions to insure you have the most enjoyable experience. Use insect repellent with DEET and wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, particularly in the evening and early morning when insects can be at their worst. The lodges generally provide mosquito netting for you to tuck in around your bed and most travelers find that portable netting for hiking is not necessary (though bring it along if you are particularly sensitive to bugs!).
17. What should I pack?
After you book your tour, you will receive a detailed packing list with your departure packet. In general, light, synthetic, breathable, quick-drying fabrics provide the most comfort. Long sleeves, a sun hat and long pants are advised to protect from bugs and sun. The lightweight convertible pants that zip off into shorts are a great option as you can convert them to shorts during the heat of the day and back to full length when the bugs are at their worst in the evening. Unlike most destinations, you will probably want to plan a separate outfit for each day. Clothes dry very slowly in the jungle and you may not want to re-wear the perspiration soaked shirt of the previous day! Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent, as well as any personal toiletries that you need as it's difficult to find replacements at these remote lodges.
18. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.