Let’s face it, nobody likes packing before a vacation. We either forget something important, or can’t squeeze everything we want into a suitcase. To visit the Amazon Rainforest, packing can be more stressful than usual – you’ve never been before, so how should you know what to pack?
Fear not, Happy Gringo to the rescue. We have prepared a comprehensive Amazon packing list to get you trip-ready for tackling Ecuador’s jungle. The author has been to the rainforest more than 10 times, and shares all of his top packing tips and recommendations. Never before will you have been so well prepared for a trip.
We’ve even made it into a free printable Amazon Packing List (click the red button below) - for a stress-free packing experience.
Keep reading for full details of our Amazon packing list, including clothes, footwear, travel documentation, camera gear, essential items and optionals.
Let's start out with some general tips for you:
• Passengers are allowed to take one checked bag up to 50 pounds (23Kg) on domestic jungle flights to Coca or Lago Agrio, plus one carry-on of maximum 17.6 pounds (8Kg) and a small personal item.
• Despite these high luggage limits we recommend traveling as light as possible to make your trip a little easier. Many tourists leave their big packs safely guarded at their Quito hotel, to travel with smaller, lighter luggage to get them through 4 or 5 days.
• It’s best to travel well prepared from your home country. Extra items can be picked up in Quito shopping malls, but Coca and Lago Agrio jungle towns have only very basic shops available.
• In terms of weather, expect a mix of showers (sometimes heavy) and strong sun, with high humidity. Rainforest weather can change at the blink of an eye, so never leave the lodge without rain gear.
So, with those practicalities out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What should be included on your Amazon packing list?
Backpack (or suitace) – for starters we’re going to need somewhere to put all of your travel gear. Backpacks are certainly more convenient and suitable for an Amazon adventure. Hard suitcases are ok but you might have to carry rather than wheel them, which kind of defeats the purpose.
Day Pack – a smaller day pack for use on excursions. Preferably light-weight, comfortable to carry, and waterproof
Long pants –trousers that are suitable for treking. Ideally they should be of lightweight and quick-dry material. Pants with zip-legs that convert to shorts are especially handy in all weather. Jeans are not recommended for the Amazon climate.
Shorts – for day use.
T-shirts – quick-dry sports t-shirts are ideal, otherwise cotton is fine too.
Long sleeve light shirt – something light to protect from the sun, and cover you up at night for bug protection. Light colors are recommended as darker colors attract more mosquitos.
Light sweater or fleece – in case of the occasional chilly evening.
Underwear & Socks – no explanation needed I hope .
Waterproof Jacket – rain showers are an integral part of a visit to the rainforest, so a rain jacket is a must. Some lodges will also provide you with a rain poncho on request.
Swimsuit – suitable for river or lake swimming.
Sun hat – nothing spoils a vacation more than red sunburn, trust me - I’m an Englishman. When the sun is shining in the Amazon it can be deceptively strong and burn skin quickly, even on cloudy days. Wide-rim hats offer the best protection.
Smart evening wear (optional) – this one’s optional and not really necessary, only if you wish to dress up Smart for dinner at the lodge.
Hiking Shoes – a pair of sturdy hiking shoes or boots are a must. Many lodges will also lend out wellington boots to guests if the trails are especially muddy.
Walking Sandals – optional for wearing around the lodge, to keep cool air flowing around your feet.
Passport –you need your original passport to fly to the Amazon. It’s also a good idea to carry a copy just in case you lose the original. If you are an Ecuadorian resident then take your cedula ID card instead.
Return flight tickets – either print out your flight reservation, or keep the e-ticket saved on your cellphone.
Reservations – it’s a good idea to have a copy of your reservations or voucher on hand – sometimes you’ll be asked to show them at the airport.
Insurance documents – take them along with you (if you have insurance which is always recommended). Keep the emergency numbers to hand just in case you ever need to use them.
Cash – to pay for bar bills, sundries and tips at your
Sun glasses – a good pair of sunnies are a must! Aim for proven UV protection from a recognised brand to reduce the glare and protect your eyes.
Sun protection cream – ddon’t under estimate the strong equatorial sun. I opt for 50+ SPF to protect my skin, and still manage to come home with a nice tan.
Insect repellent – this might just be the most important item in your pack. An effective bug spray will keep the mosquitos at bay and prevent itchy bites from making life miserable.
After Bite Cream –prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Some camomile lotion or other after-bite product will help to take the edge off of itchy bites in the event that you are bitten.
Toiletries – most high-end lodges & Amazon cruise ships do include disposable toiletries. Of course though, it’s always nice to use your regular toiletry products when you travel – your hair and skin will thank you for it.
First aid kit – Most importantly, be sure to remember all of your prescription medicines. Also pack some first aid basics like plasters, ibuprofen, asparin, imodium etc.
Water Bottle (refillable) – Lodges have safe drinking water dispensors, so it’s easy to fill up your own bottle each day and avoid buying plastic water bottles.
Flashlight torch - a headlamp is great to get around the lodge at night, and enjoy nocturnal activities.
Dry bag - highly recommended to keep expensive electronic gear safe and dry. Plastic bags are also great for keeping clothes dry.
Camera – the Amazon rainforest is a photographer’s dream. Whether you are a wildlife or landscape photography buff, or like to post your experiences onto social media, your friends will be wide-eyed with jealousy when they see your snaps. But what is the best camera to take with you?
On different occasions I have taken simple point and shoot cameras, a DSLR with multiple lenses, and more recently a Sony RX10 IV bridge camera. In each case I was delighted with my images, but my personal preference today is the bridge camera. This for me offers a flexible combo of image quality, ease of use, and no heavy lenses to carry around.
Rainforest creatures are timid so don’t expect animals to pose for you like Galapagos animals. A good telephoto zoom lens (either built-in or attachable) will help you get closer to birds and animals without scaring them away.
Camera accesories – camera charger, and plenty of memory cards - you’ll be surprised how many photos you end up taking! Optional extras: a polarising filter to reduce water glare, camera cleaning kit and an extra battery. If you have a DSLR camera then both a prime portrait lens and telephoto are your most important choices. A tripod can be useful but I find them rather cumbersome, especially when traveling in a group.
Travel adaptor – Ecuador and Galapagos use the same two prong plugs as the US, with a 110 V current.
Cellphone – to capture photo / video action, keep up with your social media, and stay connected with folks back home. Some higher end lodges do have wifi access (albeit rather slow), but you’ll be disconnected at backpacker lodges.
Snacks – don’t worry, tourists are always well-fed at Amazon lodges, but a few extra protein snack bars never go amiss if your stomach starts rumbling.
Clothes soap – can be handy to wash clothes along the way, but bear in mind that clothes take longer to dry in the humid forest.
Treking poles – not really necessary but treking poles can aid stability if you are unsteady on your legs.
Binoculars – to get a closer look at shy wildlife.
Books – there’ll be plenty of downtime for book-worms to dig into a novel, so a good read or kindle is well worth packing. A few recommended books to get you in the Amazon mood include: Walking the Amazon – Ed Stafford, The lost city of Z – David Grann, and Savages – Joe Kane.
Wildlife guide – to help you identify and learn more about the amazing wildlife that you encounter in the Amazon. There are lots of options available, from thick wildlife books to light plastified easy id guides. Of course your naturalist guide will also identify all wildlife to you, so an additional guide book is an optional extra.
In conclusion, we hope that you find our Amazon packing list useful. Preparation is vital for a successful trip so print out a copy of our free PDF and check each item off as you pack. Did we forget to include something important? Write to [email protected] to let us know.