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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Pack light for a profound journey

Queridos amig@s,

Can you believe it’s almost time to begin packing for our adventure? We understand this phase can be stressful for you and your family. Breathe and think of only bringing what you absolutely need. Some of the following are just suggestions; please consider carefully what you think you will actually need for our time in Peru and Bolivia. We will be calling each of you in the coming week, and can answer any further packing questions you might have.

Read carefully through these suggestions and use this as a guide for packing. Take into account that there is an extended list on your course preparation manual:

THINGS TO PACK:

  • 2 COPIES OF YOUR PASSPORT
  • DAY PACK, on treks we will mostly carry our day packs, so make sure that it is comfortable to carry. You should be able to fit in it your water bottles, puffy jacket, other layers, your tapper wear, head lamp, snacks, and other things that you will need for the day.
  • Any personal prescription MEDICATIONS that you regularly take (and printed information on side effects and contraindications).
  • You need to bring TWO WATER BOTTLES for our trek, 1 liter each.
  • WATCH AND ALARM CLOCK are mandatory! Students are responsible for waking up in the morning and meeting ON TIME throughout the day. Each student needs to bring an inexpensive watch with a working alarm.
  • One plastic TUPPERWARE container. In REI or on Amazon.com a great one is the GSI Outdoor Fairshare Mug. This should hold 1L – 1.5L and be very sturdy. While on the trail, we often pack lunches in our “tuppers” and use them for take-away food. They need to seal tight – who wants leaky chicken sauce in their backpack?
  • Camping CUTLERY. This can be as simple as a spoon from home, or bring a wooden set or “spork” purchasable from an outdoor store.
  • SPENDING MONEY: Whatever you will need for souvenirs, snacks, laundry, post cards, and postage. You can withdrawal local currency easily with an ATM card.
  • WATER PURIFICATION, if you are considering buying a STERIPEN, we suggest the “Ultra” and “Freedom” models as they are sturdier and don’t require batteries (they have an internal rechargeable battery and hold a charge for extended periods of time).  For more information, see the SteriPen website to compare models.  Keep in mind that lithium and non-AA batteries can be difficult to find in-country so bring extra if necessary!  If bringing a SteriPen, please also bring a back-up purification method such as Sweet Water or Aquamira.
  • A GOOD HEADLAMP. This is possibly the most used item throughout the course.
  • GOOD QUALITY RAIN GEAR (jacket and pants) is essential.
  • HOMESTAY GIFTS. We will be doing at least one long homestay and possibly two shorter ones. Giving your family a small token of appreciation is an optional but very nice gesture, and one that can be a very nice icebreaker on the first day. At this point we can’t yet tell you the make-up of your homestay family, such as whether there are kids and how old they are. Some ideas that work for all ages: photos of yourself and/or postcards from home where you can write a personal message on the back are a hit. We also recommend key chains, hats, picture books, etc. that represent your hometown. If you have a skill, such as knitting, then something you’ve personally made is a great idea too.
  • It’s also a great idea to bring printed PHOTOS of people important to you. This is a great ice-breaker with families, and it’s nice to share with your group. To be culturally appropriate, be sure to print photos as opposed to uploading them on an electronic device. Don’t bring fairly clothes-less beach shots.
  • JOURNAL and bring a bunch of PENS to get you started, but know they are easily replaceable in-country.
  • A few STURDY GARBAGE BAGS. While these are available in-country, in can be difficult to find durable trash bags. These will be useful for water-proofing your backpack for treks, or leaving items behind during excursions.
  • GAMES, or something to do as a group- you will have many moments together as a group, it is nice to have games (ideas are cards, Uno, Set, Bang, banana grams) and books that you can trade off.
  • DUFFEL BAG /STUFF SACK: useful for items that are left behind during hikes and short trips. This bag doesn‘t have to be too fancy – something nylon and lightweight. If you can‘t find something that works, don‘t worry – you can get a great simple bag in country for a fraction of what you would pay here. When you arrive at the airport, your duffle should be empty, and everything else should be packed in your backpack.
  • CAMERA. Please bring a separate camera than your cell phone. We will keep your cell phones with us for the duration of the course!
  • PELICAN CASE or other small waterproof container for your camera, batteries or other soluble items that you would prefer to keep insoluble.
  • RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES for any electronics, especially if you are bringing a Steri-Pen for water purification (as mentioned above).
  • ZIPLOCK BAGS of small and large size. For keeping electronics and other things dry.
  • NATURAL TOILETRIES help decrease our footprint. Check your local grocery or health food store. Dr. Bronner’s is great and multi-purpose. LUSH (www.lush.com) has a great selection of solid shampoos that you can buy in a tin. They are small, all natural, will last you the whole trip, and best of all, they don’t spill!
  • TREKKING POLES are not necessary, but worth considering if you have bad knees, weak ankles, or less-than-perfect balance. One big con for us is, you’ll be carrying them with you for the duration of the course. Most poles will shrink down to a third of their size for easy carrying between hikes; but still, you have to carry them.
  • SMALL THERMOS. You will really appreciate this in the cold nights of the treks.

 

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME:

  • Please leave cell phones (iPhones included) at home (Read our policy on electronics post). Kindles and other electronic reading devices are acceptable, but can be a risk for damage/theft and are not particularly culturally appropriate. Please note, if you do bring a cell phone for pre or post course purposes, we (the instructors) will be collecting them on the first day and carrying them for the duration of the trip. We cannot be responsible for loss or damage.
  • You shouldn’t bring a ton of personal books. We will swap among ourselves. Consider leaving behind the Bolivia guidebook sent by Dragons.
  • You don’t need large containers/supplies of basic toiletries. You can buy whatever you need in-country.
  • Leave behind revealing pieces of clothing. Shorts that are 4 fingers above the knee, tank tops and leggings should be avoided. Please be aware that sport bras on their own are not acceptable as exercise clothing.
  • Don’t bring anything you don’t want ruined or lost!

 

THINGS YOU CAN BUY IN-COUNTRY

  • Clothing (traditional, American, and souvenir), knock-off footwear, books in Spanish and English, (non-natural) toiletries, feminine hygiene products, notebooks and writing utensils, souvenirs, among many other things. It’s pretty easy to cover your basics in-country. Waterproof-breathables, quick dry, anti wrinkle, light-weight gear is not readily available in-country.

 

Thanks for reading! If any of you have any suggestions for each other from your own travels, please post your own Yak! Don’t hesitate to contact us or post on the yak board with any questions you might have.