For the animal lover, there is perhaps no greater destination on earth than the Amazon, which is home to about 30% of the species on earth and hundreds of thousands of insects, mammals, reptiles, fish and plants. If you’re planning a trip to the area, you probably want to see as much wildlife as possible — although you also want to avoid disrupting their natural habit. Here are some of the greatest ways to responsibly experience the wildlife in the Amazon.
Visit Clay Licks to See Macaws and Tapirs
A number of accommodations in the area have clay areas to attract local wildlife, or you can hire a guide to take you to a natural clay section in the Amazon to witness hundreds of brilliantly colored parrots together, along with tapirs. These elusive and giant mammals are pretty difficult to spot, but clay licks are the best place to try. A good spot to head is the Heath River Wildlife Center with one of the top clay licks in the world (there are only about 100 known!) or the Manu Wildlife Center.
Stay at Eco Lodges
Eco lodges are constructed from salvaged jungle material so you can sleep under a large mosquito net in a cozy bamboo bungalow with a sturdy thatched roof and listen to the sounds of the jungle all around you. Most have the amenities you crave, including hot water, internet and toilets, although some are very deep in the jungle. This form of lodging is an attempt to encourage sustainable tourism to the area and most also offer guides to take you into the surrounding area.
Spot Nocturnal Wildlife
During the evening, book a guide to take you on a night spotting adventure when the rainforest truly comes to life. You’ll hear and see monkeys, caiman, huge tarantulas, a number of nocturnal reptiles and quite a few mammals as well.
Book a Cruise of the Amazon River
Both Delfin Cruises out of Peru and Tucano Amazon Cruise in Brazil offer the most amazing opportunities to explore the Amazon in a unique way. On the cruise, you’ll go down the Amazon River and have the opportunity to hop out and explore the jungle frequently with a naturalist guide who can point out wildlife and plants as you explore in a canoe or on foot.
Spot Poison Dart Frogs
Spotting these brightly colored frogs as they move through the forest is one of the most popular options for tourists to the area and a number of places have conservation areas set up to protect the frogs while giving you a chance to view them in their natural habitat. One of the best places to go is the Tahuayo Lodge. The lodge is also a great place to see Amazon moneys at the primate research grid close to the lodge itself.
Swim with the Dolphins
One of the highlights of your trip will probably be swimming with the intelligent pink dolphins. These river dolphins are one of only 5 freshwater species of dolphins and they’re protected under the law but you can still swim with and feed these famous and brilliantly colored animals.