Deciding what to wear on a trip to Guyana is easier said than done. This small country in South America has two seasons: the dry one (though it occasionally rains even during the dry season), and the rainy one. What doesn’t change throughout the year is the heat, which paired with the highest humidity levels you can think of means only one thing: it’s hot – unbearably so.
Malaria and yellow fever warnings (by the way, you need proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter the country), however, mean that you have to dress appropriately to minimize the risks of being bitten.
Before going into the details of what you should pack (and what you should leave at home) when traveling to the Amazon rainforest of Guyana, here are a few other helpful hints.
Five Packing Tips for Your Trip to Guyana
1. Pack Light
Guyana is an incredibly beautiful, unexplored country, but it’s as uncomfortable as it gets. There’s nothing remotely luxurious in the Amazon rainforest. There’s no reliable electricity other than solar panels and generators, which means you won’t have air conditioners in your accommodation, let alone a fan.
You will be sweaty, muddy, and dirty on a regular basis. So, don’t take any fancy clothes, but pack stuff you’re happy to throw away if it gets ruined. Moreover, you will be most likely moving around the region on a combination of 4 x 4 vehicles with limited room for luggage; small boats; and tiny charter flights (maximum 12 seats) where they will be weighing you and everything you carry.
In other words, only take what is strictly necessary, and nothing else.
2. Prepare for the Heat
It’s always, invariably, unbearably hot in Guyana. The temperatures vary between 29 and 32 degrees Celsius, which doesn’t seem too bad since it gets far hotter than that in the northern hemisphere during summer. But the humidity plays a huge role, and what’s even worse is that there are hardly any changes in temperatures between day and night. Be prepared for rolling around your bed in search of a cool corner, which (since you won’t even have a fan) will be hard to find.
3. Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
The minute the sun is out, people in Europe and North America ditch their jeans, shirts and shoes to walk around in shorts, tank tops and sandals.
In Guyana, you just can’t do that. With such high humidity levels, and such thick vegetation, the Amazon rainforest is the perfect environment for insects to thrive. Mosquitoes, chiggers and other small parasites will attack every inch of exposed skin you have. Make sure you cover as much as possible, to minimize the risk of being bitten.
4. Wear Neutral Colors
I realized how important it was to wear neutral colors during my trip to Botswana. If you want bugs to stay away from you, make sure to wear neutral colors as much as possible – sage, khaki and similar colors work perfectly.
5. Take Quick-Dry Clothes
You may be tempted to think that since it’s so hot in Guyana, whatever you wash will dry in no time. That’s only true for small, very thin items that you can hang in the sun during the day. Anything thicker and out of direct sunlight will take forever to dry. Make sure to only take quick dry fabric clothes!
- Hiking pants: Take 2 pairs of loose fitting ones in neutral colors. I wore my KÜHL KLIFFSIDE CONVERTIBLE pants (which I could never convert, because of the bugs) and my TREKR PANTS.
- Cotton pants (elephant or ali baba kind): The looser, the better. They are comfortable, easy to wash and dry, and despite not being very flattering they are perfect to stay cool and avoid being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
- Long sleeve t-shirts (4): Cotton shirts like the KÜHL SORA LS in neutral colors are best.
- Tank tops (3-4): Worn under your long sleeves, they help wick away sweat.
- Underwear (4-5)
- Socks (5): Make sure they are cotton and thin. I had a pair that was too thick and tight and I felt like my feet would explode.
- Sports bras (3): They are more comfortable than the classic!
- Pajamas: As hot as it is, pack long sleeve/pant sets. Despite mosquito nets, bugs (and mice!) still get inside the bed.
- Rain jacket or poncho: It can pour in the Amazon even during the dry season. I recommend the KÜHL W’S AIRSTORM JACKET.
Do Not Take
- Shorts: You’ll have no use for them, even in Georgetown because there are mosquitoes there too!
- Leggings, jeans or tight pants: It’s too hot to wear them, and mosquitoes bite right through them!
- Sweater: only pack one for the international flight.
- Hiking boots: Take a pair that support your ankle properly, especially if you plan to hike, as it can get very muddy.
- Extra pair of shoes to wear at night: Something like Converse All Stars or a pair of light canvas will do.
- Sandals: Instead of flip flops, take a pair of sandals that you can use to go in the shower and that dry quickly, so you can wear them with socks. After wearing shoes all day, it’s nice to give your feet some much needed rest, but socks will protect you from bugs.
- Backpack And Daypack: I wouldn’t carry anything above 40 or 45 liters for the main backpack, and 20 or 25 liters is plenty as a daypack. Take one that has outside pockets to carry your water bottle!
- Camera Gear: Guyana is incredible, and you’ll want to take good photos. Other than your smartphone, you may want to take a good DSLR and a few good lenses. A 18-105 mm lens is excellent for portraits and landscape photos. If you plan to take photos of wildlife, you need at least a 70-300 mm lens. Take a Go Pro or a steady cam if you’re into action and want to take videos while fishing!
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellent with DEET
- Itch cream with cortisone
- First aid kit: It’s hard to get medicine in the jungle of Guyana, so pack at least a few essential items in case of emergency.
- Refillable water bottle
- Hat and sunglasses
A trip to the Amazon basin of Guyana is not about looking pretty. It’s about discovering incredible nature and wildlife, and getting close to the local indigenous communities. Always dress appropriately, and protect yourself against the sun and mosquitoes!
Claudia is a former human rights lawyer who changed careers to follow her true calling. She’s now traveling around the world in search of adventures and unique hiking experiences. Follow her travels at My Adventures Across the World.