Amazon Packing List
For our trip to Guyana and the Amazon basin, we knew we needed to adhere to a strict packing list. I've never been one for extensive camping, but our Guyana itinerary was action packed with piranha fishing, mountain hiking, safari drives and more.
The jungle heat and humidity made this trip unlike any other nature based adventure! Add to that all sorts of bugs, reptiles and creepy crawlies, strict weight limits on small charter flights and frequent rain showers… well, we were glad we spent some time properly packing.
Here's a comprehensive Amazon packing list covering everything you need for the jungle!
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What to Wear in the Rainforest
The Amazon jungle is located right on the Equator, so it's a balmy 80+ degrees Fahrenheit all year round. What was unexpected was the feel and weight of the humidity! From the second we got off the airstrip, we felt like we could taste the humidity.
The best time to visit the Amazon is right after the rainy season, from September – December. While there are still intermittent rain showers, water levels have subsided so roads are easier to navigate.
1. Long Sleeve Tops & Pants
Adventuring in the Amazon can be rough so we knew our everyday clothes wouldn't cut it. It killed me a little inside, to spend so much on (what I call) ugly hiking clothes, but in the end it was worth it.
For our trip to Guyana, we packed a mix of short sleeves and long sleeves. If we were re-doing it, I'd say ditch the shorts and short sleeves. Pack all long sleeve tops and long pants to protect yourself from aggressive insects and vegetation.
Opt for loose-fitting, breathable fabrics instead of anything too tight, since mosquitoes can bite through leggings or thin fabrics easily.
Yes – we were sweating out of every pore possible, 24 hours a day. One night we were excited to be in a hotel with enclosed walls… until we realized it was so stuffy we were sweating as we slept!
Muted earth tone colors are best to view wildlife. Guyana has some incredible birds, like the Harpy Eagle and colorful Cock of the Rock, in addition to giant river otters and jaguars, so you should absolutely plan on doing some safari drives!
Quick Dry Fabrics
Opt for quick dry fabrics from synthetic material; cotton when wet can take forever to dry and leave you feeling chilled and uncomfortable! Columbia makes some great quick dry synthetic pants that were comfortable and flattering.
Linen shirts are also great to pack – I picked up a bunch of rayon button down blouses from Uniqlo that were comfortable in the heat.
Extra Change of Clothes
If you can fit it in your luggage, bring 2 sets of clothing per day. A long sleeve and long pants version for hiking out and about in the day time, and then a comfortable pair of clean, dry, long-sleeved sweats or pajamas to lounge around the lodge in the evenings.
We even went to bed with our shirts tucked into our pants, tucked into our socks! You'll want to avoid as much skin exposure as you can.
You'll especially want extras for underwear, sports bras and socks! Washing your laundry is doable, but can often take a day or two just to dry in the jungle humidity.
2. Hiking Boots
The Amazon jungle floor is often muddy after a rainstorm, with pools of murky mud water.
Bring a solid pair of waterproof hiking shoes. We loved Hoka One One. Their shoes are super comfortable right out of the box and incredibly lightweight!
Try to bring hiking boots that cover the ankle (but aren't too heavy or bulky). Mosquitoes have a weird fetish for feet, ankles and wrists, so if you have short hiking shoes, wear your socks high and tuck your pants into them.
You can't bring too many pairs of long, thick socks! Laundry takes forever to dry in the humidity, so bring more than you think you'll need.
There's nothing better than slipping out of hiking boots at the end of a long day. We definitely recommend packing sandals with slip proof bottoms and ideally without any thong straps, since you'll want to wear socks with your sandals.
Most of the accommodation in the jungle is quite basic, so I would also highly recommend “shower” flip-flops that you don't mind getting dirty. I've had a pair from Old Navy for years that are inexpensive and classic.
4. Rain Gear
We love the Arc'teryx imber jackets, which are so light and breathable you can always make room for them and best of all, cover down to mid-thigh!
The rains in the Amazon also come without much warning! We got unexpectedly soaked one day as we were high up in Iwokrama Forest on the Canopy Walkway. Getting wet was refreshing at first, but then we just felt soggy and gross, so we had to turn back and change/shower. Make sure to bring a waterproof backpack so any camera gear or essentials are protected!
5. Backpacks, Duffels & Luggage
For trips to the Amazon, our transportation consisted of tiny charter flights, canoes, jeeps and on foot.
A sturdy backpack or strong duffel bag like this one works well and then we also brought a small carry on suitcase for everything else.
We also relied on this small backpack from Arc'teryx for daily use. Some people brought Camelbaks as their day pack, to stay hydrated! Lastly, about a third of our trip was spent on the Amazon river, where a dry bag came in handy to keep our valuables safe and dry.
Double check that your flights don't carry weight restrictions. Since we were taking small planes (we often took Cessnas, which fit up to 13 people), we were limited to 40 pounds of luggage per person.
The sun is really intense in the jungle so bring lots of heavy-duty sunscreen and reapply often. We brought 3 that were great:
- Australian Gold tinted mineral sunscreen: this one is tinted and a strong SPF 50, so it's a nice way to get sun coverage and color correct. I would use this in the mornings only, as it can get slightly greasy if you over apply.
- PCA sunscreen: this is by far my favorite American sunscreen. It's lightweight, non greasy and has strong SPF 45 coverage without any white cast or grease. You can't even feel it when you wear it.
- Australian Gold sunscreen spray: I threw this easy-to-apply spray bottle in my day bag to top up throughout the day. The best part is it smells amazing – everyone in the group asked what I was putting on because they liked the scent!
7. Insect Repellent
Mosquitoes in the Amazon are SO intense and we are the people who always get bit, so we didn't skimp on insect repellent! The U.S. CDC website warns travelers of yellow fever and malaria, so definitely bring bug spray.
Because we used everything and in liberal doses, I can't really pinpoint which one product was the lifesaver, but I think probably the clothing treatment was most helpful.
It's really easy to use, you just spray 3 ounces of it per item of clothing and it dries quite fast (but they recommend letting your clothes air out in a well ventilated place for at least 24 hours). One bottle can treat 4 pieces of clothing.
For bites and a more natural approach, we also brought a small jar of lavender oil. On a trip right before this, a friend swore by lavender oil as a natural remedy to repel mosquitoes so we brought along a bottle just in case.
Lavender oil is also great for soothing bites and pain relief if you do get bit – just be sure to put it on the bite right away. As a bonus, it smells heavenly! Supposedly tea tree oil and peppermint oil are also good for warding off mosquitoes as well.
If that wasn't enough, some of us also wore mosquito repellent patches on the wrists and ankles. Finally, you want to bring some cortizone or anti-itch cream for any bites – they itch badly! For extra duty strength, get benadryl antihistamine tablets or Tylenol that you take orally. Those will help to prevent scratching which inflames the bites.
Binoculars are essential for the Amazon.
The thick jungle and dense forest enables the animals to hide quite easily, so seeing anything without binoculars is pretty tough.
It's a bit different from an African safari in that sense!
Some of the really cool wildlife in Guyana are giant anteaters, howler monkeys, jaguars and cougars. You can also find anacondas, grand caimans, giant otters and arapima along the river!
9. Camera with Zoom Lenses
The Guyana shield is a mecca for wildlife. We woke up to howler monkeys screeching from the rooftops of our lodges, were spied on by spider monkeys as we cruised down the Essequibo river and managed to track down a Jaguar at night.
The birds were colorful and breathtakingly beautiful as well. I've never thought bird spotting was all that interesting, but Guyana changed our minds! From the harpy eagle (which looks photo shopped even in real life) to the brilliant blue herons which acted as our river tour guides, we were pretty amazed at what Guyana has to offer.
The one disappointment?
We didn't bring any zoom lenses! If you're serious about photography, make sure to pack the biggest zoom lens you have. The Canon 100-400mm lens is a great option, or you can buy these inexpensive extension tubes to magnify the lenses you do have.
To hold everything neatly and safely in the jungle, check out the LowePro DryZone bag. There's enough room to fit a bulky dslr and zoom lens along with any accessories.
10. Toiletries, Wet Wipes & Soap
Even still, the water can be pretty hard and the local soap can leave a tough-to-remove film, so if you have your own laundry detergent or body gel then I'd recommend packing that. We also heavily relied on our own shampoo and conditioner to keep our hair looking as manageable as possible – although it still frizzed up into a poof ball.
Forget about makeup and instead pack some heavy-duty makeup wipes to remove all the layers of sunscreen and insect spray! We also found wet wipes really useful for our overnight camping trips, or just to clean up in the middle of the day, before meals, etc.
You might also want to investigate cooling towels. Two people on our trip had them and they looked SO refreshing!
11. Hats and Headlamps
Sun protection in the Amazon is a must, since you're basically right on top of the Equator!
I had ordered a gorgeous sun hat but unfortunately it didn't arrive in time for our trip, so I used this ugly but functional sun hat instead. Try to get something that shield more of your face and neck than a regular baseball cap.
We also found these shemagh scarves really helpful for covering up our neck and chests! Basically, any accessory that helps to cover up skin is fantastic for the jungle.
At night, a headlamp was crucial. Most of the Amazon lodges are off the grid and rely on solar power for energy. One lodge in particular turned off the electricity each night by 8pm and didn't re-open it until 4pm the next day! It was a challenge getting around in the dark even with our flashlights and headlamps. If you plan to go camping or do any wilderness survival training, you'll also need a headlamp.
12. Refillable Water Bottle
It's actually quite easy to get dehydrated in the jungle, since you sweat SO much! Bring along a refillable water bottle and save some plastic.
13. Travel Insurance
You should always have travel insurance but definitely will want it for somewhere as remote as the Amazon! Guyana has had recent cases of yellow fever and malaria, so make sure to get your vaccinations and pills before you visit and get insured in case of any accidents!
You can get a quote for your trip to the Amazon jungle here.
14. First Aid Kit
The jungle is really remote, so plan ahead and bring some basic medicines. Think tylenol for any pain, diarrhea medication, bandaids and bandages as well as aloe vera for sun burns. Some of the travelers in our group went as far as to buy paracord!
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Have a great time in the Amazon!
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