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Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

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 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.
  • Bring CITY CLOTHES that you would feel comfortable walking around town in. This could include a pair of jeans. We will have a chance to to leave extra things in storage before 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).
  • We will get closer to the rainy season as our program progresses. A RAIN JACKET can also 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. A small umbrella is optional for city life and can also be purchased locally.
  • 3 pairs of shoes: WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTSSANDALS (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 high altitude.
  • No tap water we encounter in Peru will be considered potable. For WATER PURIFICATION we recommend LIFE STRAWS or 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) drops. If you bring a steripen, you must also bring two wide-mouthed water bottles, extra batteries and a back-up water purification method. 
  • 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
  • Leak-proof TUPPERWARE CONTAINER to pack food in and UTENSILS for treks


  • 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 quickly
  • 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)
  • 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
  • LAPTOP and CHARGING CORD for coursework
  • A few small PRINTED PHOTOS of people and places important to you

A note on TOILETRIES: You can find generic toiletries in Peru and Bolivia. 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 program 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.).


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

Leave your electronics: smart phones, mp3 players, video games, speakers, etc. at home. If you bring a phone to coordinate your international travel, please keep in mind that we will collect all phones for the duration of the program and are not responsible for loss or damage. Please be prepared to disconnect completely from your phone for our time together. Your laptop should be used primarily for coursework but can also be used to keep in touch with people from home.

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 program. 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