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Travel bucket list idea:

Kayaking in the flooded forest

  • Amazon, Multiple countries

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

There is more to the Amazon than the Amazon River itself. While the main river and its large tributaries offer spectacular scenery, the smaller tributaries and creeks (igarapes) are where you stand the best chance of seeing wildlife and local life.

In the wet season, the river rises up to eight metres – creating unique, flooded forest landscapes known as varzea (on brown rivers) or igapó (on black rivers), which link together in vast labyrinths – extending through lakes tributaries and swamps covered with huge Victoria waterlilies.

Paddling on a kayak or dugout canoe through the flooded forest is magical, particularly at the beginning and end of the day when the wildlife is most active. Motorboats are also available for the less energetic.


Price from: £30
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

This is not something it’s possible to do independently. Any stay in a rainforest lodge or tour into a national park will involve plenty of time on smaller rivers. And it’s even possible to visit them on a day trip from a hub like Manaus or Iquitos.

When to do it

Only available in the flooded season – when the river is high. This varies greatly depending on the destination. In Iquitos it is Oct-May (peaking in Jan-Mar); in Manaus and Alter do Chão it is Jan-Aug (peaking in April).

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Lurys Didier

  • Manaus, Amazon, Brazil

Lurys Didier


Lurys Didier

One of the few genuine indigenous Amazon guides – based in Novo Airao itself and conducting trips throughout the Manaus area. Excellent boat tours and hikes and rainforest survival training.

Amazon Eco Adventures

  • Manaus, Amazon, Brazil

Well-respected and reliable local agency with a broad range of tours around Manaus.