FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I request a salt-free diet?
It is critically important to ingest a sufficient quantity of salt in a rainforest environment. Most people from a northern clime sweat profusely, as the body attempts to cool itself in the hot, humid environment. The level of sodium lost during sweating must be replenished or a condition of hyponatremia will ensue. Essentially, the plunging level of sodium in the blood drives fluid into the body’s cells. In the cranium, the resulting swelling of the brain first leads to symptoms of dizziness and headaches, as well as mood swings. If untreated by the simple ingestion of salt, advanced symptoms include severe vomiting, coma and ultimately death.
Can my children come?
We have lots of children visit, from ages 6-18. At no extra cost, you can have your itinerary customized to include activities your children will enjoy. Families are assigned private guides who have experience working with children. Family cabins include two-story cabins, each floor with a private bath, or large single room cabins for very young children, in our main lodge, and two-room cabins at our research center. A list of references from families that have recently brought children the same age as your children can be emailed to you upon request. Children receive a discount cost of their trip.
Do I need the yellow fever inoculation?
Yellow fever is not currently in the Loreto Department of Peru. No vaccination certificate is required. Further, the highly acidic water in the ecosystems of the Tahuayo River basin does not provide habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the only carrier of yellow fever.
Do you charge a supplement to single travelers.
We do not charge anything extra for single travelers (does not apply to extensions to the Andes). We consider ourselves a tour operator, not a hotel. Lodging is incidental to the main objective of your trip, an experience in the rainforest.
Do you have hot showers?
No, you really would not want to have in such a hot, humid environment. Furthermore, in the Amazon rainforest, water heated to 30-33 degrees Centigrade would become a soup of mycobacteria. If aerosolized by a shower head the bacteria can be inhaled into the lungs and cause a serious, tubucular-like pulmonary infection. For this reason, like all other jungle lodges, we have only cold water showers.
Do you have a laundry service?
Yes, we have a nominal charge, $10 USD, for a bag of clothes to be laundered. Clothes are laundered in a traditional jungle fashion, beaten on logs, and then hung out to dry by the sun (may take a day to dry, or longer depending on the weather).
Do you have the latest in technology?
Iquitos city is the world’s largest city not connected to any other city by road. It is surrounded by huge rivers and impenetrable Amazon flood forest and would be cut off from the outside world if not for air flights and incredibly long boat travel up 2000 miles of river. So one should not expect that we have access to all goods and services that other parts of the world has access to. Surprisingly we do have access to some technology and have installed solar power, outlets to charge camera batteries, LED lighting, satellite connected wifi and computer stations and even modern flush toilets. Other technologies, such as electric boat motors or quiet 4 stroke motors do not yet exist for sale in Iquitos.
How do I get a customized itinerary?
The specifics of your personalized itinerary will be discussed on site, in consultation with your private guide, according to your needs and interests, weather, current wildlife activity, safety, and other logistics. Email us with any specific interests, such as wilderness camping or jungle survival training, which must be planned in advance by reserving a specific guide, or fishing or photography, in which case we can make specific preparation recommendations. We answer all emails within 24 hours. If not an email may be lost in cyberspace, then call us at 1-800-AMAZONX.
Is malaria a problem there?
No. There is no malaria in downtown Iquitos or the Tahuayo River basin. However, south of Iquitos, along Nauta Road, is a hot zone for malaria. Avoid traveling there. The only species of mosquito that carries malaria is Anopheles darlingi. This species of mosquito breeds in water that is alkaline, which in the Iquitos (as well as out of Puerto Maldonado) area is found in water originating in the Andes (much minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium from marine fossil sedimentation). This species of mosquito only survive for 3-4 weeks and does not stray more than 100 meters from the place where it hatched. In the Tahuayo River basin we do not have this mosquito species, because our water ecology is highly acidic, coming not from the Andes (we are on the other side of the Amazon River) but from swamps in the interior of the ACRCTT conservation zone, where phenolic chemicals leach from our jungle plants into the standing water. If you put your hand in the water in our rivers and lakes you can see the red color tint of the water. This indicates high acidity, water in which Anopheles darlingi cannot reproduce. For this reason, no medical prophylaxis (which especially with malaria pills may cause side effects) is required.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance. We have seen too many times people have to cancel at virtually the last minute because of health reasons or the illness or death of a family member. Problems with airlines as far as losses due to flight cancellation, delay or lost luggage is another common problem. Trips can also be canceled due to problems beyond the control of the tour operator (and are thus non-refundable). Peru has enjoyed political and economic stability and peace for the last two decades, except in the region of Lake Titicaca, where labor strikes typically close access for 1-2 weeks every year. In 2001 a strike closed access to the Inca Trail for a couple of weeks. Several years ago protests in Iquitos shut down the airport for a few days. More common are environmental disasters. Earthquakes are common in Peru and in the 1990s several landslides closed the train tracks to Machu Picchu for periods of days to weeks. Floods typically have more far-reaching consequences. In 2010 a January flood of the Urubamba River damaged the train tracks to Machu Picchu and access to Machu Picchu was closed until June. In February 2012 the Urubamba flooded again and access to Machu Picchu was closed for several days. The time of highest weather risk in visiting Machu Picchu is the months of January and February, although if train tracks are damaged access may be closed through June. The Inca Trail has sometimes been closed any time of the year due to rockslide avalanche, snow, freezing rain, etc. In the Amazon basin, a record flood in April 2012 closed virtually all jungle lodges, though ours remained open. The season of greatest flood risk in the Amazon is late March through the end of May. Please contact us via our email at email@example.com if you wish information about travel insurance.
What are the guidelines for giving tips?
Tipping is not required. The staff of Amazonia Expeditions is very well paid with excellent benefits of family health insurance, disability insurance, retirement pensions, and all other social benefits. Tips should only be given if your trip was outstanding and you are highly motivated to tip. The amount is solely at your discretion. If you wish to give some to all of the behind the scenes people responsible for maintenance, cleaning, and cooking, a tip can be given c/o lodge supervisors Rolex or Bichina.
What clothes should I wear in the jungle?
We simply recommend rain gear, short and long-sleeved shirts and pants, a hat with a brim and a bathing suit. To be any more specific would be self-defeating because people have such great individual differences in what they feel is appropriate. We have a photo in our office of two people perfectly dressed for the rainforest–one has flip-flops, shorts, and a tank top, while the person next to him has jungle boots, socks, long camouflaged pants that tie around the ankles, long sleeved shirt, gloves and hat with a mosquito net that falls from the brim. Both are perfectly outfitted in a way that best suits their personalities. For footwear in the forest though, you will be required to wear the boots that we provide to you. Bringing your own jungle footwear could introduce microscopic soil microbes that could harm our ecosystems. If you have any additional questions, please contact us. Beware of false or biased information on the internet. For example, the idea that mosquitos are attracted to certain colors. This is a myth. Mosquitos are attracted to the amount of CO2 your body produces, not the color of your clothes. See http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/04/health/mosquito-bites-myths/index.html for well-vetted information.
What documents are required?
If you are a citizen of the USA or Canada all you need is a passport. You do not need a visa. If you are a citizen of another country you must check on-line with the Peru consulate. You do not need a vaccination card (unless you are also traveling to Puerto Maldonado in Peru.
What gifts can I bring for the indigenous people?
Gift giving must be done very carefully, to ensure that the relationship between our guests and the natives continues to be one of mutual affection and does not degenerate into the natives becoming beggars for goods nor resentful because some of their neighbors receive special attention/gifts. The relationship of our tourism company and the natives is managed by Dolly Beaver, herself a native of the region. She makes sure that all of the people in the communities have access to medical care (Dolly built the clinic in Esperanza Village), that all qualified children have access to higher education, that the women are economically empowered and that the natives are incentivized and rewarded for contributing to the conservation of the region. Please read some of the newsletters that Dolly has written, which are available at www.angelsoftheamazon.com
We have a few ways to make a suggested contribution that does not interfere with cultural norms.
- Give a tax-deductible donation to AOA to buy some books the teachers want. We can have the books ready in Iquitos for you to bring to the school and give to the teacher. Suggested donation $30-100
- Host a nutritional breakfast at a school. Donation to AOA is $250
- Pay two weeks salary of a nurse at the clinic $400
You can donate through PayPal using the “Donate Now” button at www.angelsoftheamazon.org
What if I have to cancel?
If we buy your airfare at a discounted price that is usually non-refundable. Depending on your itinerary, 50-75% of your other trip fees are refundable until 40 days before travel. We do not automatically include trip cancellation insurance with your fee, so if you want to protect your investment against cancellation we recommend that you buy trip cancellation insurance.
What is a typical day like in the jungle?
There is no typical day. You will appreciate this before traveling if you complete all of your required reading. Every day is different, every week is different. The wonder of the Amazon is the incredible biodiversity. We have the world’s greatest biodiversity of species but a low abundance of any one species. It is not possible for an environment to support both high biodiversity and high abundance. As a result, common wildlife encounters are rare, while rare wildlife encounters are common. The Amazon is a dynamic, ever changing environment. There are hundreds of interesting things that you could take place during your trip. This is why many people do return trips; we even have several guests who have done more than 10 trips in the past three decades. Every trip to the Amazon is a completely different and often unpredictable experience.
What is the best time of year to visit?
All dates of the year are possible. The temperature does not vary much, because we are close to the equator. Rainfall varies, from a 70% chance of afternoon showers in April (wettest month) to 30% chance of afternoon showers in September (driest month). Months that the lodges tend to fill up with guests are; March, June-August, and the December holidays.
What is the food like?
We serve buffet style, with a variety of western style and regional foods at every meal. Servings include a number of vegetarian dishes. Our culinary staff can also prepare special dishes–let us know at least a month in advance for special dietary needs. Please remember that we are in a remote location and can only procure foods that are locally grown or produced. Many food items that people are normally used to, and can be food most anywhere else, are not available in Iquitos city.
How long should I stay?
We are in a region of mega-biodiversity so there is a lot to see and do. We recommend a minimum stay of 8 days. But we do have people staying as short as 3 days and some as long as 3 months. For people staying 5 days or less we only use the main lodge. There is a great variety of activities from the main lodge, hiking in varzea and terra firme ecosystems, canoe in flood forest, canopy zip line, swim in a lake, visit native communities, etc.. But the wildlife is better and the forest more pristine at our remote Research Center Lodge. You must stay a minimum of 6 days total to include a visit to the Research Center Lodge.
Where should I put my valuables for safekeeping?
We have never had a theft at the lodge. But if you are worried you can give items to the lodge supervisor to hold.
Will my camera by affected by humidity?
Years ago cameras would sometimes be affected by the humidity. People used to bring silica gel to put inside zip lock bags with their cameras. But the new cameras that operate with digital chips don’t seem much affected by humidity. Remember when you go by boat or canoe to keep your camera in a water-tight floatable when not taking photos. We are not responsible for damage done to cameras, cell phones or other personal items by the jungle environment.
This is not a problem in the Tahuayo River basin. The only species of mosquito that carries Zika is Aedes aegypti, which is also the sole species of mosquito that can carry dengue or yellow fever. This mosquito breeds in water that is alkaline, which in the Iquitos area is found in pools of water south and west of the city (many marine fossil sediments such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in the clay soil, deposited from water originating in the Andes). The mosquito only survives for 3-4 weeks and does not stray more than 100 meters from the place where it hatched. In the Tahuayo River basin we do not have this mosquito species, because our water ecology is highly acidic, coming not from the Andes (we are on the other side of the Amazon River) but from swamps in the interior of the ACRCTT conservation zone, where phenolic chemicals leach from our jungle plants into the standing water. If you put your hand in the water in our rivers and lakes you can see the red color tint of the water. This indicates high acidity, water in which Aedes aegypti cannot reproduce. For this reason, we have also never had outbreaks of yellow fever or dengue in the Tahuayo River basin. The one species in Peru that carries malarial parasites, Anopheles darlingi, also does not breed in the highly acidic ecosystems of the Tahuayo.