How to explore the Amazon on a budget

The magnificent Amazon is one of the most sought-after travel destinations however many people think it’s not a feasible holiday as it is quite a distance from Australia. But actually, it’s not much more to travel to South America than it is to Europe or North America – in fact it can be less.

The Amazon rainforest spans 7 million square kilometres across nine nations, with the majority of the forest in Brazil, followed by Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

It is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees! It also is home to the beautiful Amazon River, which is the largest river in the world, and the second in length.

The river stretches from Peru in the west to Brazil in the east, and one of the most popular sections of the river is located in Iquitos, Peru.

Here’s how you can get to South America and experience the stunning Amazon.

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1. Getting there

LATAM Airlines flies from Sydney to Lima daily via Auckland and Santiago, Chile for around $1900AUD return. Once in Lima, you’ll need to get a connecting flight to Iquitos.

2. Think about spending money

The currency in Peru is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol, often stylised as S/. You can get your money changed either before you leave or when you arrive, though the exchange rate might be better in your destination. Food, drinks and accommodation are all very cheap compared to Australia prices, and the conversion is around $1AUD to 0.41 S/

3. What to bring

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Iquitos and the Amazon are jungle areas with a tropical climate so you’ll need to bring along or purchase high SPF sunscreen, strong insect repellent and take along malaria tablets as this is considered a malaria and dengue fever zone. You might want to bring along a Spanish to English dictionary as well, and learn common phrases and how to count to 100 in Spanish:

  • uno = 1
  • dos = 2
  • tres = 3
  • cuatro = 4
  • cinco = 5
  • seis = 6
  • siete =7
  • ocho = 8
  • nueve = 9
  • diez = 10
  • once = 11
  • doce = 12
  • trece = 13
  • catorce = 14
  • quince = 15
  • diez y seis = 16
  • diez y siete = 17
  • diez y ocho = 18
  • diez y nueve = 19
  • viente = 20
  • viente y uno = 21
  • viente y dos = 22
  • viente y tres = 23
  • viente y cuatro = 24
  • viente y cinco = 25
  • viente y seis = 26
  • viente y siete = 27
  • viente y ocho = 28
  • viente y nueve = 29
  • trenta = 30
  • cuarenta = 40
  • cincuenta = 50
  • sisenta = 60
  • sitenta = 70
  • ochenta = 80
  • noventa = 90
  • cien = 100

4. What to do

When you arrive in the jungle city of Iquitos, you may be wondering where to start. A common way to experience the Amazon is at a ‘jungle lodge’. Most lodges feature private rooms and are situated in the jungle. There are upscale offerings too if you really want to splash out, but the usual lodges on a budget are perfectly fine. You might get a hike included in the price too.

Others things to do include taking a river cruise to see the stunning landscape and unique wildlife. You might even spot a rare pink dolphin!

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There are day trips to the Amazon, tree climbing and wildlife excursions – and you can book them when you arrive as there are tour operators all over the city. You may also visit the home of a local family, spend a night in the jungle, and go fishing.

5. How long to visit

For most people, a week is a good amount of time to enjoy and experience the Amazon. If you’ve have more than a week to explore, consider travelling to another part of the Amazon, or take a look around Lima, a city of 8 million people!

6. Weather/best time to visit

Weather in the Amazon is generally warm throughout the year with some rainfall – some rain will fall in whichever season you choose! The best part is that all year round, you can see wildlife, birds and plants.

Tell us: would you like to go to the Amazon?