"Rainforest" by Ben Britten via Flickr Creative Commons


The weather in many tropical destinations is often extremely hot and sticky. Rain can last for weeks and even during dry seasons a strong bout of rain can occur, therefore waterproof and easy drying clothing is a good idea. Protection from the sun in the form of hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are important in most rainforest locations, particularly those where you will be in rivers and lagoons. Cold fronts in many tropical destinations can occur on occasion, although these can be relatively rare.


The biggest safety concern for ecotourists is not getting eaten alive by piranhas, but getting lost in the wilderness. Many tropical forests are huge swaths of land that go on for thousands of miles in every direction. If one is not careful to stick to marked trails or takes one wrong turn they can easily become lost in an almost impenetrable jungle where rescues are far from easy. The best way to prevent this type of mishap is to stick with your guide. If hiking on your own in the wild, satellite tracking systems such as GPS and phones and communication devices such as radios, walkie-talkies, and phones are excellent devices to have.

Food and Water

When traveling in a strange country eating strange foods and the chance to drink unfiltered water is quite common, as are certain ailments. Medicines to counter these travel illnesses are recommended such as antibiotics and diarrhea medicine. Only drink bottled water in tropical areas, as the chance for cholera and water borne diseases is still high in many tropical countries. If you cannot get bottled water or want to cut down on your plastic bottle waste try iodine tablets, purifying drops, or water filters.


In tropical areas protection/vaccinations for malaria and yellow fever may be necessary. In Brazil you can’t even enter the country or get a visa without a yellow fever vaccination. To combat malaria there are several things you can do. Malaria tablets such as doxycycline or mefloquine are recommended to prevent the sickness although you need to check which pill works in which part of the world as some mosquitoes are resistant to some medicines. The best protection against malaria though is basic protection against mosquitoes such as bug spray (best with DEET), mosquito nets, wearing long sleeves, mosquito coils, and the countless other remedies.

Sand flies/no-see-ums are tiny little insects common in many tropical areas that dig into your skin and leave irritating little bites that turn into big red welts. There’s no good way of stopping these nasty creatures except wearing long clothes. Some sprays and lotions may help, but none are one hundred percent effective. Always consult with your doctor before entering a strange country.

Animal Bites

Snake, spider, and other bites should be inspected and treated immediately. Local guides and doctors should be able to identify which species and the ensuing treatment. If possible, try to take a photo or remember as much information about the animal that you can. This will help a doctor in determining the kind of treatment necessary.

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