Understanding the Seasons in the Amazon
What is the best season to visit the Amazon?
This is a common question we get from most people that are visiting the lodge for their first time. The simple answer to this question is ANYTIME. There is no time that is better for visiting the jungle than any other. There is a wet season and a dry season. Each
have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, but one is not better than the other.
The wet/dry season differs within the Amazon basin depending how far south/north, east/west you are. In the upper Amazon basin around Iquitos, Peru, we have a bell curve of water level in the Amazon River by Iquitos (see graph), which peaks the end of April.
Water level is determined by melting snow and glaciers in the Andes Mountains, especially from the huge glacial mass in central Peru known as the Cordillera Blanca.
The hottest time of year is when the sun is directly overhead upon its return from the Tropic of Capricorn, which is near the first of March.
The water from the snowmelt takes some time to flood the Amazon basin around Iquitos, so we start to see the seasonal flooding of the lower ecosystems of the Amazon forest in late March, reaching its peak of flooding by late April.
As the seasonal flood spreads through the forest, the probability of rain increases due to evaporation/condensation. In April and May, we may have 65% chance of rain at some point during the day (usually late afternoon), while in September and October the daily probability of precipitation falls to about 35% (usually late afternoon storm).
Effect on our trips
Due to Andean summers becoming longer and hotter, we have had seasonal floods exceed the average water level in each of the past 15 years, with two devastating floods in 2012 and 2015, which impacted native communities, regional agriculture and even flooded homes and businesses in Iquitos city.
Only once have we had issues conducting tours during the flood season. In 2012 the main lodge was flooded, and we built a temporary lodge for our guests in high forest. After having some parts of the main lodge flooded again in 2015 we re-built the main lodge much higher, to withstand any conceivable flood. The research center lodge is on higher ground, but it was also flooded in 2012 and 2015, although it was closed only for a few days. Throughout the bad flood years, we have always been open and operated tours throughout, while the other 90% of lodge operators in Iquitos shut down.
Dry conditions in August-November can also occasionally have impact if the level of water in the rivers get too low. If the rivers get too low, it takes longer to get to the main lodge and can be a laborious process to get to the remote research center lodge. On a few occasions we came close to temporarily closing the research center but that has not yet happened.