By Joe Olds – Offering the allure of the undiscovered and untouched, the Amazon river is one of the most famous rivers in the world. Drawing from the largest drainage basin on the globe (across Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela), it supports the Amazon rainforest which is one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
It’s no wonder this destination is high on many people’s bucket lists.
If you’re serious about taking in this mysterious part of the world, keep reading to learn about six Amazonian experiences that you can’t afford to miss.
Small village homestay
From spider monkeys to sloths, the Amazon is home to many strange and wonderful creatures. But it’s also home to some wonderful inhabitants of the homosapien variety.
Experience life like an Amazon local by staying in a small village and learning about Amazonian culture. There are hundreds of villages scattered across the Amazon and you’ll always have plenty to do and discover. Tena in Ecuador is a small town which is considered the ‘gateway’ to the Ecuadorian Amazon.
It’s the perfect base to make your way a little deeper into the jungle to experience an authentic village homestay.
Shamans are traditional spiritual healers who make connections with the sacred realms. They are thought to act as a bridge between the physical and spiritual world and use medicinal plants from the Amazon to heal various ailments.
Shamans still practice in the small, authentic villages – exercising long held tribal knowledge about health and healing.
Completely intriguing, and offering a different perspective to typical Western knowledge and understanding, shamans offer insight into the people who call the rainforest home – an experience not to be missed.
River boat adventure
You can’t leave the Amazon without going on a river boat adventure. Take an excursion during the day to explore and learn about the unique wildlife – some tours even offer time to stop over and experience local cuisine and culture.
Spot iguanas, turtles, and maybe even a jaguar as you soak in your little slice of this vast river ecosystem. Depending on your itinerary you might choose to go pirana fishing, explore the mangroves in a dugout canoe or take a night excursion.
Check out this itinerary for an in depth riverboat adventure. It’s a great way to get up close with the wonders of the Amazon region.
Hiding in the river and jungle are a phenomenal number of species and taking a wildlife tour is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with all creatures great and small.
In particular, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia have a reputation for their spectacular wildlife and are great places to embark on your tour. You can look forward to seeing pink dolphins, spectacular scarlet macaws and the famous and freaky Amazonian Anaconda (although you’d be forgiven for wanting to avoid seeing that one).
Medicinal plants and critters – like the glass frog or the camouflaged butterflies – are small, but spectacular details you could easily miss if you don’t have the benefit of a tour guide. Many animals hide high up in the canopy, so a pair of binoculars and a knowledgeable guide will allow you access to some of the lesser seen wonders of the Amazon.
Visit a tribe
The wilderness and natural features of the Amazon are breathtaking, but there’s also a human presence that is equally fascinating.
The best way to learn about Amazon tribes and local cultures is to take the time to visit one.
Though access is not always easy, a bit of research and planning will allow you to really enrich your understanding of this part of the world and the people who call it home. Discover firsthand the way of life in the jungle, and maybe even make some new friends.
Spend a night in the jungle
Yes, that’s right. Travel by boat deep into the jungle and don’t come back until the morning. This one isn’t for the easily scared. Make sure you take sun protection and bug repellant and be prepared for an intimate experience.
To get the most out of a forest adventure and overnight stay, it’s a great idea to go with an experienced naturalist guide, as they can share their experience and expertise. For bird spotters, the Tambopata rainforest in Peru holds the world record for the most sightings in one area.
You can expect to spot macaws and peccaries, blue headed parrots and many more species that you never knew existed. Spot caimans (a close relative of the alligator) on the river banks , and bunk out under the canopy. Under the stars in the middle of the Amazonian wilderness – it doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
Experience the Amazing Amazon
It’s on most people’s bucket lists, and you can see why.
The Amazon promises adventure, untouched natural environments and insights into ancient tribal traditions – what more could you want in a travel experience? If you haven’t been to the Amazon before, start planning now so you can make the most of everything it has to offer. And if you have been, you’re no doubt planning your return.
Don’t miss out on these amazing Amazonian experiences. Just think of the travel stories!
Joe Olds: Joe’s unquenchable thirst to see the world has taken him to North & Central America, across Asia, through Europe and around Oceania. Flying his British nest to travel, Joe has ended up in Melbourne, Australia, where he can be found utilising his love of travel in the marketing team at G Adventures.