As one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, the Amazon beckons adventurous souls and nature enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. From its labyrinthine waterways and lofty canopies to its indigenous cultures and rubber-boom legacy architecture, this region offers experiences like no other.
The Amazon is the single largest tropical rainforest in the world, spanning 6.7 million square kilometers across eight South American countries. Yet, with such immensity comes distinct seasons and deciding when to visit can be tricky.
In this guide, we’ll delve into some of the secrets of the Amazon, unveiling the best time to visit and how to get the most out of your trip. Let’s get into it.
When is the best time to visit the Amazon?
The best time to visit the Amazon depends on which region you’re headed to. Brazil has the largest rainforest cover of any country in the world, with 60% of its landmass consumed by the Amazon. But it also extends into Colombia, Peru, and five other South American nations, each with its own unique weather patterns.
The Amazon has two distinct seasons—wet and dry, but this can fluctuate due to the region’s vastness.
Central Amazonia is generally much drier than the Peruvian Amazon and Eastern Brazil, but you can still expect cooler temperatures and less rainfall across the region from July onwards. And even with the heavy rain that the wet months bring, the wildlife is well adapted to the tropical climate of the Amazon and its dramatic variations.
Dry Season in the Amazon (July to December): This period is considered the best time to visit the Amazon for most travelers. The weather is drier and less humid, with occasional showers. The rivers and tributaries are lower, making it easier to navigate and explore the intricate waterways. Wildlife sightings are more common as animals congregate near water sources. This season also offers better visibility for hiking, canoeing, and visiting remote areas.
Wet Season in the Amazon (January to June): The wet season brings frequent rainfall, resulting in higher water levels and flooded areas. The rainforest comes alive with lush greenery and blooming flowers during this time, making it perfect for birdwatching. Rivers and lakes also expand, allowing for unique experiences like exploring flooded forests and observing aquatic wildlife. However, some areas may be more challenging to access due to the high water levels and frequent downpours.
When is the best time to visit the Brazilian Amazon?
The best time to visit the Brazilian Amazon depends on your interests. Although just after the rainy season, the Amazon looks especially beautiful in June when still partly flooded. Still, most trips occur in July and September. Water levels are lower and hiking trails are easier to explore at this time. The milder temperatures are also more forgiving for outdoor activities.
Although covering much of Brazil, the weather in the Amazon can still vary significantly from the rest of the country. The equator runs right through the Amazon. This means the temperature doesn’t change much throughout the year, hovering around 30 degrees Celcius. This is quite the contrast to the rest of the country. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, highs can surpass 40 degrees in summer but dip to 20 degrees in July.
Best Regions to Visit in the Brazilian Amazon:
Manaus and Central Amazonia: Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, is a popular gateway to the Brazilian Amazon. It offers access to the central Amazon region and is known for the iconic Amazon Theatre and the Meeting of the Waters, where the dark Rio Negro and sandy Rio Solimões converge. This region can be visited year-round, but the dry season is often preferred for wildlife sightings and ease of exploration.
The Cristalino Reserve: Spanning over 113 square kilometers, the Cristalino Reserve is considered one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. It’s known for its pristine jungle and crystal-clear rivers. Check out the Cristalino Lodge while you are there, for a true escape in the depths of the rainforest—best visited on the cusp of the dry season.
Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve: Located in Amazonas state, the Mamirauá Reserve is well known for sustainable tourism initiatives and exceptional biodiversity. The best time to visit is during the dry season when wildlife is concentrated near the water sources.
Anavilhanas Archipelago: Situated near Manaus, the Anavilhanas Archipelago is a collection of over 400 islands in the Rio Negro. This pristine region offers incredible opportunities for wildlife observation, canoeing, and exploring the dense forest. June to September is ideal for visiting the islands when they’re more accessible and wildlife sightings are rife.
Find out more about where your next adventure to the Brazilian Amazon could take you.
When is the best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon?
Spanning over 782,880 square kilometers, Peruvian Amazonia is the second-largest expanse of the Amazon. The mighty Amazon River and its tributaries meander through the landscape, tracing nearly two-thirds of the country. But the Peruvian Amazon is smaller than Brazil’s, making a visit more personal.
Wildlife sightings are rife year-round, but the dry season, running from May to October provides better visibility and increased animal activity. If you’re after the cooler temperatures of Brazilian summer but can only travel in spring, Peru could be your answer.
Best Regions to Visit in the Peruvian Amazon:
Iquitos and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve: Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon and a popular vantage point for exploring the region. From Iquitos, you can venture into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Peru. The reserve is known for its incredible biodiversity, home to river dolphins, Amazonian manatees, and even black jaguars. The best time to visit is during the dry season when rainfall is lower and wildlife sightings are more common.
Puerto Maldonado and Tambopata National Reserve: Puerto Maldonado is another gateway city to the Peruvian Amazon, located in the southern part of the region. From here, you can access the Tambopata National Reserve, renowned for its rich flora and fauna. This area offers opportunities for wildlife encounters, birdwatching, and exploring the intricate rainforest ecosystem. The best time to visit is also during the dry season when the weather is more favorable for outdoor activities.
Manu National Park: Manu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in southeastern Peru. It encompasses some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, from lowland jungles to high-altitude cloud forests. The best time to visit is from June to September when access is easier and humidity is lower.
When is the best time to visit the Colombian Amazon?
Formed by the Southeast Amazonas Department, Vaupés, Guianía, Caquetá, Guaviere, and Putumayo, the Colombian Amazon makes up around 35% of the country’s landmass. You can visit the Colombian Amazon year-round, with the dry season being split into two parts—December to March and July to August.
The timings of seasons can vary from year to year. Some visitors prefer to visit from November to February. At this time, you can experience both dry and flooded areas of the jungle, depending on where you go.
Best Regions to Visit in the Colombian Amazon:
Leticia and the Amazon River: Leticia, the capital of the Amazonas Department in Colombia, is situated on the banks of the Amazon River. It offers access to various natural and cultural attractions. You can explore the Amazon River itself, visit indigenous communities, and go jungle trekking. Leticia can be visited year-round, but the dry months are generally preferred for better weather.
Amacayacu National Natural Park: Located near Leticia, Amacayacu National Natural Park is a protected area showcasing the Colombian Amazon’s incredible biodiversity. Here, you can venture into dense rainforests, take boat excursions along the river, and observe wildlife like turles, crocodiles, and the world’s smallest primate, the lion marmoset. The best time to visit is between December and March and July to August, when the weather is more favorable.
Puerto Nariño and Tarapoto Lakes: Puerto Nariño is a small town on the banks of the Loretoyacu River, a tributary of the Amazon. It is known for its commitment to sustainable tourism and offers a serene and laid-back atmosphere. From Puerto Nariño, you can explore the Tarapoto Lakes, famous for their natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The dry season is recommended for visiting this region.
When to visit other Amazon regions
Ecuadorian Amazon: The city of Coca serves as a gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon. From there, you can venture into the Yasuni National Park or Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, both offering immersive rainforest experiences. The best time to visit is during the dry season (June to November), when rainfall is lower, making it easier to explore.
Venezuelan Amazon: Ciudad Bolivar is a common starting point for exploring the Venezuelan Amazon. The Canaima National Park, with its iconic Angel Falls, is a popular destination. Due to political and economic challenges in Venezuela, be sure to check current safety advisories before planning your trip.
Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana: These three countries in northeastern South America share a portion of the Amazon rainforest. In Guyana, the Iwokrama Forest and Kaieteur National Park offer incredible opportunities for wildlife encounters. Suriname’s Central Suriname Nature Reserve and French Guiana’s Guiana Amazonian Park are also both UNESCO World Heritage sites. The best time to visit is during the drier months, generally between August and November.
Bolivian Amazon: The Bolivian Amazon, accessible from the city of Rurrenabaque, is home to the Madidi National Park and Pampas region. Where tropical rainforest meets snowcapped mountains, Bolivia is a jewel in the Amazon’s travel crown. The dry season (April to October) is usually recommended for better weather and wildlife sightings. However, the rainy season (November to March) brings lush greenery and blooming vegetation.