The Amazon rainforest covers over 2.1 million square miles of tropical terrain in South America. Most of the Amazon lies in Brazil, though several other countries, including Peru and Ecuador, also hold large sections of this massive jungle. The Amazon's natural beauty and immense biodiversity attract tourists in search of exotic adventures. However, this region can be just as dangerous as it is beautiful. Visitors should know about the primary dangers of the Amazon rainforest prior to travel in order to plan for a safer trip.
Tourists are especially prone to sickness while traveling in the Amazon rainforest. According to Goparoo Travel Guide, the biggest threat comes from mosquitoes carrying malaria and yellow fever. These are both serious illnesses, so get the appropriate vaccinations before you go to the Amazon. Visitors may also get sick from the local food and water. Even relatively clean food and water sometimes contain different strains of bacteria and microorganisms that foreigners' immune systems are not used to dealing with. This can lead to fever, diarrhea and dehydration. Only drink bottled water, and make sure your food is fresh and properly washed to reduce your chances of getting sick.
The chance to get up close and personal with Amazonian wildlife is one of the main reasons people visit the region, but wild animals also present one of the primary threats. Contrary to Hollywood depictions of the Amazon rainforest, most animals do not go out of their way to hunt down humans. However, the rainforest is brimming with creatures that will attack in self defense. Images of jaguars, alligators, anacondas and piranhas come to mind when thinking of the most formidable animals in the Amazon. In addition, the rainforest houses numerous species of small, venomous creatures like snakes and frogs. However, the most common problems arise from encounters with blood-sucking leeches as well as the aforementioned health issues involving disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Fodor's Travel Guide recommends wearing sturdy boots and pants when hiking in the jungle to protect yourself from bites. Always check your boots or shoes before putting them on to make sure no creatures have crawled inside. Fodor's also recommends packing plenty of insect repellent, anti-itch cream and a mosquito net to keep out pests you when you sleep.
Weather also produces dangerous conditions in the Amazon rainforest. According to Frommer's, the height of the wet season in the Amazon lasts from October to May with especially heavy rains in March and April. Rains wash out roads and cause the water levels to rise dramatically in the Amazon River and in the hundreds of connecting tributaries. This leads to flooding as well as extremely powerful river currents that have been known to sink boats. Goparoo Travel Guide recommends traveling to the Amazon between June and September when weather conditions are more favorable.