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Gareth Leonard

Amazon Adventures – The Camp Out

Growing up in Upstate New York, it was raccoons, skunks and bears that we worried about while camping. Not so much for our safety, but more so for protecting our food.

There weren’t too many poisonous things to worry about besides poison ivy and oak, and even those weren’t life threatening. We usually stayed in a pop-up camper in a camping park with the nearest public road just a few miles away at most.

For the most part, the camping that I knew was safe and comfortable.


Fast-forward to my adult life, where I find myself paddling down the Amazon River in search of a place to setup my hammock for the night.

A small group and I decided to leave the comfort of our four-walled cabins in search of a more open floor plan. Encouraged by my guide Kenrick, we parted ways with most of the other travelers and guides at the lodge and headed out into the wild.

We made a quick pit stop at the local floating general store to pick-up some necessary supplies, which included a jug of water, whole chicken, potatoes, beer and a bottle of coco loco, a stiff homebrewed coconut-flavored moonshine that would drop a water buffalo.


Equipped with food, liquid courage, hammocks, mosquito nets and a tarp, we were off to setup camp while the sun was on our side.

After about a half hour journey up river, we docked the boat and climbed up onto shore and into the thick forest.

We found a flat area just inland from the boat where we cut down two small trees to clear space and use as our tarp support.

Everyone had a job, whether it was collecting wood, setting up the hammocks, or building the fire, we all chipped in and I learned a ton in the process.


Kenrick reminded us that everything still needed to be done with caution.

“Watch where you step, watch where you grab, and be aware of your surroundings.”

As we finished setting up camp, he shared a few more nighttime survival tips in passing…

“Don’t go to the bathroom too far away and if at any point you see yellow, reflective dots in the woods, they might be the eyes of a jaguar and you need to back away and get my attention immediately.” 


With camp complete just before the sun began to set, dinner was the next thing to accomplish while we still had natural light served with the house cleaning services lake zurich.

We split a large branch wide enough to fit the butterflied chicken and tied the two top ends to keep it in place. From there we stabbed the opposite end into the ground and tilted it towards the fire. It was genius, and I was pumped to have a new camp-cooking trick in my arsenal.


As the lights turned off in the jungle, the crackling fire and flickering headlamps provided our dinner lighting. We took maid service rockland county with us and they helped on peeling off pieces of perfectly cooked chicken with hands and chased it down with warm beer.

Still stuck on the Jaguar warning from earlier, I took the opportunity to ask a million questions about what happens in these woods and who’s the king of the jungle.

“Who would win in a fight…?”

Kenrick and the other guides started telling stories about their close encounters with some of the animals of the Amazon, from piranhas and caimans to snakes and wasps (like yesterday).

While many of them had a Jaguar story, they all seemed to treat Anacandas like mythical beasts that are rare to spot.

I gained such a great understanding of the area and local culture from sitting around the fire and listening to their experiences.

We cracked open the bottle of coco loco and the stories got progressively more outlandish.

Kenrick and the boys tried to show me how to make things from palm branches, but my skills were limited to basic braiding.


The energy was fun but never completely comfortable.

There was always a certain level of tension and precaution that came from knowing anything could happen at anytime. They respected the beauty and the danger of the Amazon and made it clear with every movement or unfamiliar noise around us.


After messing with a few others who went to bed early, we decided to call it a night ourselves.

I crawled into my hammock, covered myself from mosquitos and passed out almost immediately.

I was a long way away from the camping I had grown up with and I loved every minute of it!

Have you ever had interesting experiences traveling around Brazil? Share your stories

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