To venture into the “Peruvian Amazon”:http://www.peruforless.com/destinations/destinations-peru-amazon.php is to truly walk on the wild side. You probably won’t be sleeping in a tree, but nonetheless, it is important to be prepared for some rough-neck excursions. This involves knowing some basic jungle safety tips and making sure you packed all the necessities.
*Basic Safety Tips*
Before venturing into the Peruvian Amazon, it is necessary to understand that the jungle can be very dangerous if you are not well-informed and prepared. A unique ecosystem flourishes in the presence of impenetrable vegetation and only the laws of nature can govern it. This is one case where it’s definitely better to stay on the beaten path. The last thing you want it to get lost and stranded in the Peruvian jungle, where a map will have its best uses as toilet paper.
Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind before and during your jungle adventures:
*1. Update your vaccines before you travel*
The wet climate mixed with the relatively undeveloped infrastructure of the Peruvian Amazon exposes travelers to diseases caused by insects as well as the increased possibility of contaminated water and food. Before your trip, speak with a healthcare professional about recommended vaccines. During your trip, carry a copy of your immunization record with you.
You may need to present the record to immigration officials when you re-enter your home country.
*2. Stay close to your guide and the group*
On any excursion into the jungle, you never want be separated from your guide or the group. You know all those myths about deadly plants, insects, snakes and other predators that lurk in the jungle? Well, they hold a bit of truth, and you don’t want to add yourself to the short but real list of isolated incidents. The best way to avoid unwanted encounters is to stay on the path and keep your guide in your sight at all times. If for some reason you become separated, blow a safety whistle (a basic safety travel necessity) and stay put. Someone will hear it and try to find you.
*3. Do not approach or touch the wildlife*
Though you are guaranteed to be fascinated by the “wildlife of the Amazon”:http://www.peruforless.com/blog/meet-17-amazing-amazon-animals-can-really-strut-stuff/, you should not touch any jungle flora or fauna unless your guide explicitly says it is okay. The jungle is a delicate ecosystem and touching the wildlife could endanger it. You also don’t want to trigger the defense mechanisms of wildlife, which in extreme cases can have fatal effects. Beware of flesh-eating ants, poison dart tree frogs, and toxic vegetation, and of course, the poo-flinging Spider Monkeys.
Your Amazon travel package may include some one-on-one cuddle time with a chilled out three-toed sloth or maybe a chance to mingle with a band of monkeys, but you should only do this with the permission and supervision of a trained professional guide.
_Photo: Ryan Carrier/Peru for Less_
*4. Swim in designated areas only*
While you may have nostalgic childhood memories of swinging from a tree branch to splash into a river or a lake, this is not something you want to do in the Peruvian Amazon. The rivers and lakes of the jungle are filled with very unique creatures, some of which can be dangerous to swim with. However, there are some designated swimming areas where travelers can go for a dip with friendly Amazon favorites, such as the playful pink river dolphin or the adorable capybara.
_Photo: Ryan Carrier/Peru for Less_
5. Carry a whistle
Always carry a safety whistle when visiting the jungle, or traveling in general. Use it if you get lost, the boat runs out of gas in the middle of the river, or you are being chased by a pack of wild monkeys. Having a safety whistle can be a handy item in tricky situations.
*Essential Amazon Packing List*
_(Photo: Terra Hall/Peru for Less)_
Whether you plan to be in the Peruvian Amazon for a week or just a couple of days, your packing list should include some very essential items. For any excursion, it is best to carry a daypack with everything you need to stay safe and comfortable.
For an extended jungle adventure, take a look at the Extended Stay Packing List further below for extra items.
*1. Basic Amazon Packing List*
_Include these items in your day pack and take it with you for any excursion:_
* Vaccine record – make sure you get a yellow fever vaccine
* Malaria pills, as recommended by your doctor
* Water-resistant day pack, or a reusable waterproof bag to keep your belongings dry
* Biodegradable toilet paper
* Insect repellent containing DEET, which is a chemical that effectively reduces the risk of insect bites for 2 to 12 hours*
* Environmentally friendly toiletries (i.e., soap and shampoo)
* Waterproof poncho*
* Bedding and mosquito net (optional; ask your tour operator if these will be provided at the lodge)
* Proper clothing, i.e., socks, pants, long-sleeved shirts. Breathable cotton is best.
* Comfortable closed shoes, preferably tennis shoes or hiking boots
* Camera, extra memory sticks/film, camera accessories
* Sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher
* Sunhat or cap
* Safety whistle
*2. Extended Stay Packing List (3 days or more)*
_All of the above, plus:_
* Waterproof matches and a backup lighter
* Ointment for insect bites
* Anti-diarrhea medicine, like Imodium or Lomotil (consult your doctor first)
* First-Aid kit
* Multi-purpose knife, such as a Swiss Army Knife with a blade, can and bottle opener
* Flashlight and spare batteries
* Sleeping bag or hammock (if camping outside)
* Tent (if camping outside)
With these tips, you will be prepared for your adventure through the Peruvian Amazon, and return home safe and sound, hopefully with a few selfies of you and the three-toed sloth. Buen viaje!
_*Kathleen McAfee* writes about how to best experience Peru on behalf of the travel company “Peru for Less”:http://www.peruforless.com/. Peru for Less is celebrating travel to South America with its Holiday Away program. Contact Peru for Less to learn how to save 5% on any package booked this holiday season._