Visiting the Amazon Rainforest – Ultimate Adventure

Visiting the Amazon rainforest is the ultimate educational trip abroad for parents Worldschooling children. During my backpacking trip around Peru myself and my son (before my daughter was born) took a week long adventure into the Amazon rainforest to see first hand what the rainforest was really like.

The trip was part of a month long trip travelling around Peru as a solo woman and mother along with my son who was 4 at the time. I think I basically bit off a little more than I could chew.

Travelling to the Amazon rainforest was something I’ve always wanted to do, above all seeing the animals, hearing the sounds of the rainforest and feeling the humidity of the jungle.

Visiting one of the most remote, undeveloped locations on earth with kids has got to be the ultimate adventure. Keep reading to see what activities and experiences we had and ultimately how to reach the Rainforest with kids.

Pacaya Samiria Nature Reserve
Taking a birdwatching tour early morning in the Amazon Rainforest along the Maranon River, we woke up at 4am to get ready to take the motorized canoe to the local hot spots pointed out by our guide, we saw several species of birds including the Amazonia Kingfisher, which was rather amazing.

Which Part of the Amazon Rainforest?

When visiting the Amazon Rainforest you need to understand there are two main rainforest reserves in Peru which tourists visit. The smaller being Tambopata which is closest to Cusco, it consists of a cloud rainforest on a smaller tributary of the Amazon River.

The largest access point to the Amazon jungle is via Iquitos, in northeastern Peru, home to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

The reserve covers over 2 million hectares of rainforest. The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is one of the biggest protected territories in Peru, established in 1982.

Pacaya Samiria Reserve

Pacaya Samiria’s unique beauty, its biological wealth and home to stunning species of animals, makes the reserve an important destination for scientific investigators, Sustainable travellers, bird watches and nature lovers.

For comparison on the size of the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, it’s about the total size of Slovenia, a whole country, tell that to the kids! Ultimately this is where we were heading!

Joshua controlling the motorised canoe
Joshua controlling the motorised canoe

How to get to the Amazon Rainforest

Flying north to Iquitos with Star Peru airlines from Lima via Pucallpa – which is about halfway between the two (you can even pay using PayPal now) Landing in Iquitos, we slept one night in the main square.

During our evening meal we tried out some alligator nuggets, honestly it’s not something I would do again, nor something I’m proud of eating. It wasn’t great tasting.

Leaving early the next morning by road to Nauta, the journey by minibus (with no air-con!) took us 1 hour and 45 minutes. One you reach this area your essentially travelling into a Malaria risk zone.

I planned well and took Malarone antimalarials while visiting the Amazon Rainforest, we also had our yellow fever vaccinations, certainly arranged before leaving home.

How to get to the Amazon Rainforest
We took a flight from Lima to Iquitos flying with Star Peru, flights were really cheap. We had one issue where the plane encountered a technical fault so after taking off from Pucallpa we had to return, there were no other flights until the next day so we got put up in a hotel by the airline and got to experience this wonderful town on the edge of the Peruvian rainforest.

Once in Nauta we refilled our re-usable water bottles and got some light snacks and departed by our hotels private speed boat through the Marañon river.

After 2.5 hours against the current we arrived at our Amazon eco lodge overlooking the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

We were so excited to see the eco lodge, we were really making our dreams come true. The most precious place on earth was unfolding in front of our eyes.

Pacaya Samira Eco Lodge Peruvian Amazon Jungle
Our eco lodge called the Pacaya Samira Eco Lodge in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle overlooking Peru’s largest protected rainforest.

There are no jungle lodges inside the reserve because the reserve is a protected area by the Peruvian government, so we needed to a 25 minute trip across the river to reach the entrance of the Reserve. Our guide bought our tickets for us at the patrol station.

Weather in the Amazon

Visited the Amazon Rainforest during mid April, with the weather being perfect, not one day of rain during the whole expedition. The forest was still flooded from all the rain which fell in the months proceeding which were really bad.

Parts of the Amazon which were usually walkable at the time of year became impossible for us. We stayed in the boat pretty much the whole time.

We saw water residue markers on the trees which had indicated the water had risen several more metres higher than we were currently at.

Activities to do in the Amazon Rainforest with Kids

There are endless activities to do with kids in the Amazon Rainforest. Let me start by sharing our most exciting moments from a week long expedition into the jungle.

Piranha Fishing

I’ll start with my sons favourite activity, piranha fishing! We went fishing for piranhas using beef as bait to catch them. We were amazed to see how many razor sharp teeth they had.

After catch about 7 piranhas we took them back to our eco-lodge where our personal chef cooked and served them to us for dinner!

The Amazon Rainforest with kids-2
Taking a tour of the Amazon jungle isn’t complete without piranha fishing, my son who was 4 years old at the time managed to catch all these piranhas on his own, I’ve never seen a kid beaming with so much joy.
Visiting the Amazon Rainforest – Ultimate Adventure with Kids
Joshua is posing here with his own personal catch of Piranha fish from the Amazon River in Peru.

Seeing Animals in the Amazon Rainforest

We spent about 3 days visiting the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, during this time we saw many amazing animals that took my breath away.

The sounds and atmosphere is full of adventure and curiosity. Each bend in the river held another surprise.

Being part of an Amazon Rainforest eco trip meant we had a really knowledgeable guide with us at all times.

He easily recognised the unique sounds of the monkeys and birds, the best spots to see Three-toed Sloths and Howler Monkeys.

Below are some photos of the animals and birds we got to see during an 8 day trip visiting the Amazon Rainforest with 3 of those days spent inside the nature reserve.

Giant centipedes in the Amazon Jungle
Giant centipedes, including the largest in the world Scolopendra gigantea which you can see I held in my hands!
Paiche (Arapaima Gigas)
This is a photo my son took of the giant Paiche (Arapaima Gigas) they are a species of arapaima native to the basin of the Amazon River
poisonous frog
A poisonous frog we found hopping around the jungle floor, yes that’s my guides hands, he picked it up and held it so we could get a closer look as its brilliant fiery red colour and patterns over the tiny frogs body.
Howler Monkey
A baby Howler monkey, our guide could hear them howling in the distance so we took the canoe 2o minutes upstream to find two howlers in the tree canopy above.
Three toed sloth baby in the amazon rainforest family travel
Three toed sloth captured in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

Swimming with Pink Amazonian Dolphins

As part of our eco lodge package we went swimming in the Amazon River with Pink Amazonian Dolphins. We didn’t get to see them well because they’re naturally shy.

We would catch a glimpse of them when they came up to surface for air or when they circled our feet.

Amazonian dolphin
Credit goes to Wikipedia for this photo of a Pink Amazonian River dolphin.

Visit the Manatee Rescue Centre

The Amazonian manatee is a beautiful and endangered river animal, when the Amazon floods every few years, people who keep manatees as pets find them escaping back into the Amazon River.

They don’t know how to defend and care for themselves due to growing up in captivity.

The manatees are rescued and taken to the Manatee Rescue Centre in Iquitos, most importantly manatees are rehabilitated for several months and sometimes years so they can successfully be released back into the wild.

Manatee rescue in Iquitos - Sustainable Travel
Here you can see us feeding the rescued manatees a special milk formulae specially developed in Florida and sent over to Peru.

Watch the Sunset over the Amazon Jungle

Travelling the world ensures you get to see the most spectacular sunsets, our most dramatic sunset to date was over the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon River.

The colours were vivid, usually consisting of several blending bright purples, pinks and reds all at once. Take a look.

Amazon Sunset

Amazon Sunset overlooking the Amazon rainforest
Fading sunset over the Peruvian Amazon Jungle

Visit a Women’s Refuge Centre

Watch Traditional Tribe Dancing

During our amazing weeks stay in the Amazon we had the pleasure of visiting an Amazonian Tribe located about 4 hours from Nauta. We reached there by speed boat and motorized canoe.

We stopped for lunch on the way to the tribe, we saw many varieties of flora trekking through the jungle.

Spear Fishing with a Local Tribe

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