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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Packing Tips

Hola [email protected] estudiantes y familias,

Let’s get yakking about packing…. Here are some tips as you prepare for a fall of navigating your way through colorful markets, high Andean passes, and dense jungle. This packing update is meant to supplement the information in the “Clothing and Equipment List” section of your Course Preparation Manual.

Cost of gear: We understand that the gear recommended for this course is expensive. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by gear or clothing, we would love to help you find less expensive options. For most items on our packing list, there are used and/or alternative products. If you have questions about some of your choices, feel free to e-mail or whatsapp us instructors to talk it through.

Also, there’s no need to buy a brand new quick-dry wardrobe and show up looking like Bear Grylls. Much of the clothing you use at home will probably look cool, feel great, and work perfectly this fall.  Keep in mind that we will be spending an entire month in homestays in Cochabamba. Bring the clothing you like and are comfortable wearing.

Cultural norms and clothing: We want you all to feel comfortable and confident during your time in Bolivia and Peru. To feel comfortable in countries with such immense cultural diversity, it will be important that you have clothes with you that will show local people that you recognize you are in their community. At the same time, we want you all to have the clothing that allows you to express yourself and be you! This can be a tricky balance. For example, shorts might not always be the best choice in some locations, only because locals will usually not be wearing them.

We encourage you all to think about how you want to express yourself in these new cultures, and consider how your clothing will affect your various interactions (in Spanish) with the people you meet, as well as how much you want to stand out as a foreigner. We look forward to talking with you all more through questions and suggestions!

Diversity of climates: We will experience many amazing but very different climates and ecosystems this fall. On trek, you will hike past glaciers and will likely find frost on your tent in the morning. In the Amazon, a dip in a nearby waterfall might be the best ways to combat the heat, while lighter pants and long sleeves may also help avoid bug bites. Having both warm layers for the Andes, and light/long sleeved options for the Amazon will be key.  Layers are your friend!

Amount of stuff: On this course, we will constantly be transporting our stuff. This will not only include our personal packs, but group gear as well. It is very common to see students bring extra weight because they are bringing stuff  they THINK they need but really don’t. You can leave at home those leather pants, fancy travel hammocks, inflatable pool toys, tennis rackets, soccer cleats and other accessories you think you want, but deep down in your heart know you won’t actually need.

You all have our contact info, so feel free to reach out to any of us with questions!


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