“Put on your rain jacket,” the Kiwi guy said.
I looked up at the blue sky, with no cloud in sight.
“It protects you against mosquitos,” he added. “Trust me, I’ve been here for a couple of days already.”
Have you ever ended up in the middle of nowhere and realised that you forgot to pack the most essential items? For me, one of the biggest appeals of staying in a jungle lodge in the middle of the Amazon was its remoteness. Far away from cities, traffic and big malls, I could enjoy nature. But it also meant I had to be extra careful when packing so I wouldn’t forget anything important.
Believe me, you do not want to visit the Amazon without insect repellent.
To help you and share my experience with you, I have put together this list of five essential items that you need to bring into the jungle. While I put together the list when in the Amazon, it can be applied to jungles all around the world, no matter where in the tropics you are.
If you want to go to the Amazon in Peru (and you totally should), chances are high that you’ll pass through Iquitos. Iquitos is the biggest city in the world that cannot be reached by car. You can go by boat down the Amazon, but most travellers arrive here by plane.
While many jungle lodges can arrange to pick you up at the airport, you might find yourself spending a day or two in Iquitos. Either because your flight arrives too late or leaves too early or because you still need to arrange a jungle tour (which most hostels can help you with). Whatever the reason that leaves you staying in Iquitos itself, there are a couple of things to do here.
“There!” I pointed towards the place where the fin had just disappeared. “Did you see it? Was that one of the pink dolphins?”
I can’t remember the first time I had heard of those creatures. Probably when I was researching my trip to South America. Or when I was in Peru almost two years before, searching for monkeys in Puerto Maldonado. Whenever it was, the moment I learned of the pink dolphin, I knew that I wanted to see one. Dolphins were amazing creatures and what could be better than a freshwater one that was tinged pink?
While these creatures may have played a huge role in my decision to visit the Amazon region in Peru and stay at a lodge a couple of hours away from Iquitos, there are many more reasons to plan a jungle trip in this country.
Last week, I got the chance to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. While the weather was rainy and cloudy (I guess that’s why it’s called a cloud forest) and we did not get to see many animals, we walked through a beautiful forest. And I had the opportunity of meeting Ricardo. He was our jungle guide, someone whose family had been around at the founding time of Monteverde, and he was nice enough to agree to do an interview with me.
One of the things I love about travelling is eating foreign food. And there is nothing more fascinating than the amount of foreign fruit and vegetables that exists in the world and that I have never heard of.
Peru was no exception when it came to exotic fruits. On markets, I found huge piles of wares that I couldn’t name and that I didn’t even know how to eat. Peruvian fruit is as various as the country itself. If you are wondering about which fruit to eat and how to prepare it, don’t worry. I have put together this guide so you can identify the 15 most common fruits and know what to do with them.
“I was born and raised in Iquitos,” Osmar told us. “People from the communities often say that city people can’t be good jungle guides, but that is not true.”
We were sitting in a tiny restaurant in Iquitos, in Northeastern Peru, sipping tree tomato smoothies. The orange drink tasted fruity and slightly acid at the same time, a mixture as exotic as the city. Having arrived from Patagonia the night before, everything seemed new and exciting. The small, colourful houses, the mud roads, the motortaxis honking in the street, the seemingly endless line in front of the ATM we had used earlier.
The best part about travelling are the amazing people I meet along the way. One of them is Dorothy, an American expat living near Boquete in Panama with her family. She runs Jungla de Panama, a wildlife refuge where she helps injured and abandoned animals, and she agreed to do an interview with me so I could learn more about this fascinating woman and her story.
There is no city in South America that I have visited as often as Lima. With good flight connections both to Europe and other destinations in South America, it made sense for us to come here multiple times.
We based ourselves in a hostel in the middle of Miraflores, 151 Backpackers, which I can highly recommend for its amazingly friendly and helpful staff. From there, we explored as much of Lima as we could. Lima has enough attractions to keep you occupied for three or four days, or even a week if you start exploring some of the museums we didn’t get a chance to see.
Here are twelve things you should not miss when visiting Peru’s capital:
Imagine wide, open landscapes, turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountains and ancient forests. Welcome to Patagonia. It is easy to understand why this area of the world, despite being remote, is a favourite amongst tourists.
I spent three weeks travelling around the region, going from Chile to Argentina and back again. I saw the landscape on foot, through a bus window and from a plane, watched guanacos as they jumped past and stood perfectly still so as not to scare the penguin that was crossing my path.
With lots of things to do in Southern Patagonia, it is often difficult to know where to start and what to pick. Here are some favourites that you should not miss while coming to this region:
With its decent-sized airport, Punta Arenas is an entry point into Southern Patagonia for many travellers. The city might not be the most interesting place in the area (it is far nicer to go out and see the Patagonian nature than to stay here for too long), but it is pleasant enough and a good base if you want to see the penguins on Isla Magdalena.
Besides the Monumento Natural los Pingüinos, there are a couple more things to do in Punta Arenas: