Picking the right jungle clothes and deciding what to pack for a trip to the Amazon basin is easier said than done. That’s why I have decided to put together a packing list to make things easier for you.
With the amount of traveling I do, I have become a pro at packing, for just about any kind of trip. I have plenty of hiking clothes (I hike so much that my closet is packed with hiking pants and rainproof jackets!); safari clothes, thanks to a recent trip to southern Africa; and after having traveled to Guyana I also have a good deal of jungle clothing.
I have become so good at packing that it now takes me no more than one hour to pack before a trip, and I do it right before walking out the door to catch my flight. Gone are the days when I’d agonize over what to pack and I’d end up carrying my entire closet on my back (I remember once my backpack weighted 18 kg, and I literally bent over the weight!). I was so bad at it that I even admitted being an unsuccessful backpacker.
The Challenge Of Packing The Right Jungle Clothes
A recent trip to Guyana, however, proved challenging in terms of packing. The trip organizers sent out a detailed packing list, but some items on it made absolutely no sense to me. I was asked to bring a 10 meters long paracord – which I didn’t bring because (errr!) I don’t actually know what that is (and thankfully I was never asked to use it!). I was warned to pack as light as possible (which I am ok with). And obviously, I was told to pack a good deal of jungle clothes.
But, for as detailed as the Amazon packing list I had was, I wish there were some items I took with me, and others I had left home. So, for all those of you who are planning to visit Guyana soon (which you will be, since it’s an absolutely incredible country), I have put together a packing list which includes all the jungle clothes you will need, and a few other essential items, and I have also listed what you really should leave at home instead.
However, before I tell you what to actually pack, let me go over a few things you need to keep in mind when picking your jungle clothes.
What You Should Know Before Packing Your Jungle Clothes
You need to pack light
A trip to the Amazon basin in Guyana is not like any other. There’s no luxury involved, nothing fancy about it, and chances are you will get dirty, sweaty, muddy most of the time. So, don’t pack anything precious with your jungle clothes.
Furthermore, chances are that you will be moving around quite a bit, on a combination of tiny charter flights (for which weight restrictions are taken seriously, and prior to the flight every single item is weighted: bags, food supplies and passengers too), small boats and 4×4 rides along bumpy roads. Space is always limited, and there will be weight restrictions in place. This means that your Amazon packing list has to be kept to the absolute essentials.
Make sure to read my post The Art Of Packing Light: 21 Useful Tips To Travel Light.
It’s hot in the jungle
When putting together your Amazon packing list for Guyana, keep in mind the weather conditions. Guyana is pretty much located on the equator. There are two seasons: dry (from September to December) and rainy. I obviously recommend visiting during the dry season (though keep in mind there can be showers even then). What hardly changes throughout the year is the average temperature, which stays between a balmy 29 and 32 degrees Celsius during the day, and hardly decreases at night.
It wouldn’t seem so bad, right? Temperatures during the summer get even higher than that in southern Europe, after all. However, a factor that has to be considered is the humidity. It makes the air heavy, and the perceived temperatures much higher: the minute you get out of air-con (which by the way isn’t really a thing outside of Georgetown) the air becomes literally thick – even the slightest form of exercise results in profuse sweating. So much for keeping your nice jungle clothes clean!
Long sleeve tops and pants are a must
Bugs, mice, mosquitoes, chiggers and other small parasites love the jungle as much as we do (possibly more). Such thick vegetation and humidity provide the perfect environment for them to thrive. This means two things: no matter how hot it is, forget about wearing tank tops, shorts and flip flops unless you like the idea of itching like like a mad man (your jungle clothes should all be long sleeve tops and pants); and wear a good insect repellent on any inch of skin that remains exposed.
As well as the right (non) colors
I learned the importance of wearing the right colors when I went on a safari in Africa. Bright colors attract insects, whereas neutral colors such as mauve and khaki are best to view wildlife (there is a great deal of wildlife in Guyana – check my post to discover more) and are not as attractive to bugs. The same reasoning should apply when picking the right jungle clothes for Guyana, for wildlife spotting is a thing there.
See what I wore in Africa on my post “What To Wear On Safari.”
Clothes take forever to dry
When I had to pack for my trip to Guyana, I was thorn between taking many changes of clothes, or just rely on washing whatever I wore daily. In the end, I washed most of my clothes at the end of every day, since I could rely on the fact that I’d spend 2 nights in most of the places I visited. However, keep in mind that with such high humidity, unless clothes are hang to dry in the sun, it take a good while for them to dry (do not expect them to dry overnight!). Make sure your jungle clothes are made with light, quick dry fabric.
Jungle Clothes And Other Essential Items To Add To Your Amazon Packing List
The Backpack And The Daypack
The first thing to consider when putting together an Amazon packing list is the kind of bag you want to carry. Having established that you will need to pack more or less light, what you travel with depends on the kind of trip you will be going on.
For a soft adventure trip like the one I did, a 40 liters Cabin Zero or something similar, or a similar size trolley is just perfect: it will feet all your jungle clothes, shoes and other essentials and it won’t take too much space on the boat, or on the plane.
If, on the other hand, you plan to go on a hard core adventure, you will need a good backpack. Osprey is my go to brand. I am a fan of the Ariel 65 (the equivalent for men is the Aether 70. Kestrel 68 (for men) and Kyte 66 (for women) are excellent alternatives. All of them are spacious enough to hold all your essential jungle clothes and whatever else you may need for the trip.
However, keeping in mind you want to keep weight down as much as possible, I’d suggest going with the Tempest 40 (for women) or with the Stratos 50 (for men). I have used my Tempest 40 on a recent trip to Catalunya, where I had to carry around my backpack for the whole day even when hiking, and found it comfortable and able to carry just the right amount of clothes. It probably is the best choice for an Amazon packing list.
With regards to the daypack, I traveled with a 28 liters khaki Cabin Zero, and found the backpack to be comfortable and to hold everything I needed. One thing I did miss, though, was having side pockets to keep bottles of water handy. So, it’s probably a good idea to opt for an Osprey Daylite Plus.
One of the nicest things to do in Guyana is taking hundreds of photos of the unique, breathtaking landscape and of the beautiful wildlife. This is the kind of place where you will wake up to the call of howler monkeys; where if you may spot the elusive jaguar as it runs off into the forest; where the cock of the rock will show bright and orange against the thick green layers of the jungle. Make sure that your Amazon packing list includes the right camera gear that will allow you to take beautiful photos of what you’ll see.
Other than your smartphone (I am a huge fan of iPhones), which is perfect for taking quick videos while walking around in the jungle, make sure to carry a good DSLR camera (I have a Nikon D3300 which is nice and easy to use) and a couple of good lenses. I had an 18-105 millimeters which proved good for landscape photography (I used it to take photos of Kaieteur Falls, both on land and from the plane). I also took my 70-300 millimeters lens, which is best for shooting wildlife.
If you are into action, also take a Go Pro or a steady cam.
To fit all this camera gear and a few more accessories and things, take a good daypack. I am a fan of the Osprey Daylite Plus and of the Cabin Zero 28 liters.
For more things to do in Guyana, head over to my post “13 Absolutely Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”
Essential Jungle Clothes
This is an list of jungle clothes and a few other items that you must include in your Amazon packing list:
2 pairs of loose fitting hiking pants in neutral colors (remember what I said: bright colors attract insects!). I had my Horizn Convertible (which I never converted, by the way!) and my Splash roll-up.
A pair of cotton pants. I like ali-baba pants, even though they are not the most flattering, because they are lose and comfortable. The bonus is that they are usually made with cotton, and they are easy to wash and dry.
3 or 4 long sleeves t-shirt, better if cotton and also in neutral colors. Make sure they are easy to wash and dry. I took my Intent Krossback t-shirt which I have in several colors, and my Kleo Hoody.
3 or 4 tank tops – you can wear them under the shirt, to soak up the sweat (I know, gross!) and keep you cool.
4 or 5 pairs of underwear and the same amount of socks – make sure the socks are lightweight cotton. I had a pair that was rather thick and my feet almost exploded in them, as it was so hot.
3 sports bras for the ladies: they are more comfortable than the regular stuff, and in the heat all we want is to at least be comfortable, if not cool!
A long sleeve and long pants pajama – either that, or jungle clothes that you can happily wear to bed too. I know it sounds crazy to sleep in anything but your underwear in such heat, but insects and other creatures do get in the room when in the jungle (besides, what if you sleep in a hammock like I did after hiking?). Besides, despite mosquito nets anything can get in your bed (I had a small mouse in my bed one night, stuck inside the mosquito net with me!).
A rain jacket or poncho: even in the dry season, rain can suddenly come in the Amazon. I was walking along the Canopy Walk at Iwokrama Rainforest when it started pouring and I had to rush back to the lodge, getting soaking wet on the way. A good rain jacket or poncho is an essential item to add to your Amazon packing list. I have a fantastic Hydroflex Rain Jacket.
Leave At Home
Things you don’t really need to include in your Amazon packing list, on the other hand, are:
Shorts: there really is no use for them. I wore them in Georgetown thinking there would be less mosquitoes than in the jungle, and ended up being covered in bites and itching for days.
Leggings, jeans or tight pants: I brought a pair of leggings with me and literally melted in them. They really do not belong to an Amazon packing list. The same goes for anything tight (it’s too hot to wear tight clothes, and mosquitoes can pick right through it!) or jeans (they were included in my suggested packing list, but I am unable to wear them when it’s hot so didn’t bring them).
An extra cardi or light sweater: I used mine only during the flight. Other than that, it is always too hot to even conceive the thought of wearing something warm.
A pair of good hiking boots: a proper Amazon packing list can’t do without. I have been wearing the same Dolomite pair for ages (they aren’t really available outside of Italy). They are so comfortable that when the sole got completely worn out I had them resoled. You’ll need something with extra ankle support, especially if you plan to hike a bit, because the forest can get extremely muddy and slippery. Besides, you will want to keep your ankles covered to avoid mosquito and chigger bites (I only know too well!). Columbia makes some excellent hiking boots.
An extra pair of shoes: this is totally up to you, but I was glad to have something more lightweight that I could wear around the camp at night. I took a pair of light canvas shoes. They are light to carry, and go well with jungle clothes.
A pair of sandals: I took my usual Havianas flip flops, which are great to get in the shower and I find comfortable to walk around, but a pair of Teva sandals are also great, especially as you can wear them with socks at night – your feet will get a break, and you won’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes and other insects. I know that wearing sandals with socks isn’t exactly glamorous, but when in the jungle, I hardly think anyone is bothered!
Beauty and Personal Care
A proper Amazon packing list needs to include a few essential items that will be much needed in the jungle. Other than the obvious stuff – which you do need to carry, because the lodges in the rainforest only offer soap in terms of toiletries, here’s what I recommend taking.
Sunscreen: the sun is intense on this part of the world, so you need to protect your skin accordingly. I opted for a SPF 100, though I tend to burn easily. A good quality SPF 50 should be plenty. In any case, make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
Sunscreen lip balm: we always protect the skin, but forget to protect the lips! They are delicate too, you know?
Sunscreen spray: when the temperature is too hot, the last thing we want on our face is a thick layer of cream. A good sunscreen spray is lighter in texture but just as effective, and it won’t stain all your nice jungle clothes.
Water mist spray: seems futile, right? Believe me, when the heat of the jungle strikes, you will be glad to have this little Evian water mist spray that will instantly refresh you. I didn’t have one with me, but thankfully one of my travel mates made sure to include it in her Amazon packing list so I occasionally snatched it from her.
Face and baby wipes: they are light and easy to carry, and much needed after a hike. They are also perfect to remove the thick layer of insect repellent and sunscreen before going to bed, and a must if camping in the jungle overnight.
Hand sanitizer: it will come in handy any time you have to use the bush toilet, especially if camping overnight.
Insect Repellent And Itch Creams
If you are even remotely similar to me, mosquitoes are big fans of you. You want to avoid being bitten, not only because it gets itchy and annoying, but also because of malaria and yellow fever risks. Make sure to apply copious amounts of mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET. I opted for a 50% one, but it’s a bit oily. There also are lighter options. Either way, make sure that you include it in your Amazon packing list.
You may also want to consider a clothing treatment, whereby your jungle clothes get sprayed with repellent that stays for up to 30 washes (you can either do it yourself, or take it to specialized places to do this for you).
Other things I recommend carrying are mosquito repellent patches or bracelets – just so as not to leave any chances on those mosquitoes.
In case that, despite all precautions, you get bitten, make sure to have a good itch cream (preferably with cortisone) to treat the bites immediately. Chigger bites itch badly, but if you don’t want to make it worse, don’t scratch it (it will only inflame the bites) and apply a good cortisone cream. If you fear you may get an allergic reaction to bites, make sure to also pack some benadryl antihistamine tablets that you can swallow with some water. It takes up to 3 weeks for the bites to heal fully.
Another thing I’d take, just in case, is tea tree oil. Its smells keeps the bugs away, and its healing powers are well known: applying a drop on a bite will immediately soothe it.
By the way, remember that there are still malaria and yellow fever warnings for Guyana, so you will need to show proof of having a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country, and I also recommend you get a good travel insurance. You can find a good one here.
First Aid Kit
I take a first aid kit with me pretty much on any trip. Sure enough, I had to include one in my Amazon packing list. This should have: paracetamol or any other pain relief tablets; imodium or other diarrhea medications; bandaids and bandages; a good antiseptic cream and antiseptic wipes; a cortisone cream; steristrips; hydration tablets (ideally, you’ll be drinking plenty of water and juice throughout the day, but the heat is fierce and you may need extra help!)
Miscellaneous Stuff To Add To Your Amazon Packing List
Other things you will want to include in your Amazon packing list are a good hat to protect your head from the sun – personally, I think I look silly in a hat, but I had to wear it as the sun was really getting to me! Besides, the right hat can match even the nicest jungle clothes.
Sunglasses are a must during the day, to protect your eyes from the fierce light. And another must to include in your Amazon packing list is a head lamp or a torch, which will be needed at night as there often is no electricity around the lodge, and even less so when camping in the wild. Make sure to take one with a red light option, to keep bugs away.
Make sure to take a power bank: there is no phone reception at all in the jungle, but if you plan to use your smartphone for photos and videos, it make come in handy to have a bit extra power, so I recommend adding it to your Amazon Packing list.
Binoculars are a nice add on, if you have room in your luggage. You’ll need them any time there is any cool bird around (which is pretty much every day) or if you are lucky enough to spot a jaguar (I was, by the way!).
A water bottle is a must. There is no garbage disposal in the Amazon basin of Guyana, and though the indigenous communities due their best to protect their environment, plastic waste is still an issue. A refillable water bottle significantly reduces the amount of plastic you consume, so make sure to include it in your packing list. I have a steel one which is wonderful, as it keeps my water cold for hours.
If you enjoy reading, make sure to include a nice book (or a Kindle) in your Amazon packing list. You probably want to include it even if you are not much of a reader. Tv is not a thing in the Amazon basin, let alone the internet. You will want to keep yourself entertained once you are back at the lodge at night!
One last thing I’d include in an Amazon packing list (and which I regret not bringing) is snacks. Don’t get me wrong, food in Guyana is delicious (you can read more about it in this post), but on those long boat rides a snack such as a protein bar or a trail mix wouldn’t hurt.
I recommend getting travel insurance whenever you get out of the country. You definitely want to get a good one if you plan to visit a remote place as the jungle of Guyana, especially as there still are cases of yellow fever and malaria there! (Also remember that yellow fever vaccination is required to enter the country). You can find a good one here.
A trip to the Amazon basin of Guyana is by no means a comfortable one. Forget about looking pretty, and make sure you actually feel comfortable. Pick jungle clothes that are, more than anything else, smart. Protect yourself against the heat and the insects; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to make sure you get a good dose of fibers and sugars.
By all means have fun!
Have you ever been to the Amazon? What are you essential jungle clothes?
These most may be handy:
- All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel
- The Complete List Of Travel Essentials For Women
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.