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What to Pack and not to Pack

“[S]he who would travel happily must travel light.”

Antoine De Saint-Exupéry


Hola queridos estudiantes,

If you haven’t started, now is the time to start thinking about packing! Good preparation will set you up for success in our travels. There is an art to bringing exactly what you need and no more.

Please read carefully the detailed PACKING LIST in your Course Preparation Manual. Our packing list has been refined over the years by the many, many Dragons students and instructors who have traversed the Andes and Amazon. We’ve highlighted some of the most critical points below:


  • SYNTHETIC or WOOL clothing (as opposed to cotton) is great for travel and trekking. It traps odor less, is quick drying, and helps with temperature regulation.
  • For the Amazon, bring a LIGHTWEIGHT LONG-SLEEVED SHIRT for protection from the sun and mosquitos, and bring LIGHTWEIGHT SLEEP CLOTHES for hot nights.
  • Bring at least one set of CITY CLOTHES that you would feel comfortable walking around town in. This could include a pair of jeans. We usually (though not always) have a chance to to leave extra things in storage before major treks.
  • Bring at least 2 WARM LAYERS that pack small such as a wool sweater, fleece jacket, and a synthetic/down puffy jacket for trekking. Half of our program we will be around 14 000 feet where cold nights could reach 30 degrees F (and higher in the mountains in a tent, temperatures could drop to low 20s).
  • RAIN JACKET and RAIN PANTS are optional. It will be the height of the dry season during our course, so we most likely won’t see any rain, but they can provide extra protection against wind and cold temps at altitude on trek. A poncho would also work, can be purchased locally, and will cover your day pack.
  • 3 pairs of shoes: WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS, SANDALS (that can get wet/you can wear in the shower), and SNEAKERS (either for running or for walking in the city). Your shoes should be lightweight, comfortable, and broken in.


  • Make sure your BACKPACK is at least 65-75 L and your DAY PACK is at least 25 L and that they are comfortable and fit you well. You will be carrying all of your things in these bags and using them during our treks.
  • ZERO-DEGREE SLEEPING BAG (or a 15-degree bag and liner). It can get very cold while camping at altitude.
  • No tap water we encounter in Peru will be considered potable. For WATER PURIFICATION we recommend STERIPENS, as they are easy, effective and work in a variety of environments, however you can also use a chlorine (Aqua Mira) or iodine (Polar Pure) based purification option. If you bring a steripen, you must also bring two wide-mouthed water bottles, extra batteries and a back-up water purification method. Do not bring water filters.


  • A GOOD HEADLAMP and extra batteries
  • WATCH with alarm so that you can be organized and on time
  • SUNSCREEN and SUNGLASSES (polarized if possible) as the sun will be very strong at altitude
  • INSECT REPELLENT for the Amazon, better an organic base one that doesn’t come with DEET.
  • Leak-proof TUPPERWARE CONTAINER to pack food in and UTENSILS
  • MUG/THERMOS optional if you like coffee/tea
  • Lightweight PACK TOWEL as opposed to a cotton towel which is bulky, heavy and tends to mold in humid conditions


  • JOURNAL and PENS to document your experience
  • EXTRA GALLON SIZED ZIPLOCK BAGS for organization and waterproofing
  • TREKKING POLES are helpful if you have bad knees or weak ankles
  • EARPLUGS especially if you are a light sleeper, as there will be all sorts of new noises (think roosters)
  • A GAME or BOOK to share with the group. Do not bring too many as they are heavy and we can share
  • SMALL CAMERA and extra batteries if you want to take pictures
  • USB STICK for saving photos, Yaks, etc.
  • A few small PRINTED PHOTOS of people and places important to you

A note on TOILETRIES: You can find generic toiletries in Peru. If you want to bring your own, pack small travel sizes. Dr. Bronner’s is a great multi-purpose soap/shampoo that is also biodegradable and comes in bar or liquid form. Feminine hygiene products (pads/applicator-less tampons) are available in-country.

A note on GIFTS: There is no expectation that you bring gifts, but you may want to have something small and simple to thank individuals who make your course special. Some ideas are: postcards or pictures from home with a message on the back, or a small token of where you’re from (local craft, a local treat, etc.).


A mosquito net. If they are needed they will be provided.

Leave your electronics: cell phones (iPhones included), mp3 players, video games, speakers, etc. at home. If you must bring a phone to coordinate your travel to and from Miami, please keep in mind that we will collect all phones for the duration of the course and are not responsible for loss or damage. Please be prepared to disconnect completely from your phone for time together. You will have intermittent access to internet and the Yak board will be our main source of communication with concerned loved ones following our journeys (see a note we will post about why we have this no-tech policy).

Culturally inappropriate clothing (leggings as pants, clothing that is skin tight, low-necked, more than a few inches above the knee, blazoned with inappropriate words, excessively torn, etc.) should be left at home to be enjoyed after our trip. Students with clothing deemed culturally inappropriate will be asked to change by their instructors. We hope to travel as respectfully as possible through lands that aren’t ours, and this sometimes means leaving some of our personal preferences at home.

Anything you don’t want ruined or lost.

If you still have questions – please post on the yak board. Someone else likely has the same question! Your instructors are here to guide and support you through this process. And really, it’s only stuff. YOU and your willingness to be flexible and learn are way more important than anything you’ll find on this list.

¡Buena suerte!

Los instructores