General useful information
What type of clothes should I take with me?
One thing that you can be sure of in this business is the variety in weather that is generally experienced on an adventure tour. Considering fluctuations in altitude and climate changes during your trip, we always recommend one main strategy – LAYERS. The only way to be sure that you are prepared for all types of weather is to bring a basic assortment of layered clothing. T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece, raincoat, trousers that zip-off into shorts, etc. Our section Tips for Trips will provide you with some more suggestions on what kind of clothing you should bring for the particular destination that you have chosen.
What to Pack for Peru?
- HEIGHTENED AIRPORT RESTRICTIONS To reduce the risk of damage to your luggage, please do not lock your bags when checking in for international flights from or through the U.S. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens every piece of checked luggage at commercial airports throughout the U.S. According to the TSA, baggage handling agents may require access to the contents of your luggage and will break locks as required. Also, remember to pack extra rolls of film in your carry-on bag, as screening equipment will cause film damage. Placing film in a lead-lined bag will only subject luggage to further scrutiny, as baggage handling agents will not be able to see the bag’s contents. For more suggestions from the TSA, visit their website at www.tsa.gov/public.
KEEP YOUR BAG LIGHT You are restricted to 44 pounds on flights within Peru. In any case, you’ll be better off if you can tote your bags yourself for short distances. And you might like to have extra room left over for souvenirs! Most travelers pack too much. Choose clothing with multiple uses. Find toiletries in sample sizes. Remove all disposable material from your gear before you leave home. Every little bit helps! LUGGAGE.
Your luggage consists of the following pieces: Day pack or small backpack. Keeps your hands free and is the most comfortable bag to walk with. Use it for your water bottle, camera gear, sunscreen, etc. Look for a bag with several small zippered pockets. Store camera gear and important papers in plastic bags to protect them from dirt and moisture. For people walking the Inca Trail: his day pack will be carried by you during the walk.Large duffel bag or soft-sided luggage. All of your clothing and gear must fit in one duffel or piece of luggage. Look for heavy nylon fabric, wrap-around handles and a heavy-duty lockable zipper. You can now buy a duffel bag with built-in wheels, from Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and elsewhere. Space is limited in our mini-buses, so please do not bring a rigid suitcase. Small duffel bag. Fold this into your large bag. To make our traveling lighter, we store your large duffel several times in the hotel (for example in Cusco), and carry overnight gear in this small duffel. For people walking the Inca Trail: you will be given an additional special duffel bag to put your changes of clothes and personal things you want to take on the trail. This bag will be carried by the porters.Inner bags. You can use plastic shopping bags, nylon stuff sacks or smaller zipper duffels to separate clothing and gear inside your duffel. Isolate liquid toiletries in heavy-duty Ziploc bags. Bring a few spare bags, including one for dirty laundry.
Luggage tags and locks for duffels.Packing Your Carry-On BagUse your day pack / small backpack as you carry-on bag for your flights. In it pack a change of clothes, camera gear, all medications, several changes of socks and underwear, and other irreplaceable or breakable items.
PERSONAL MEDICAL KITYou can assemble a “Personal Medical Kit” yourself. Below are some key contents of the “Personal Traveler” kit that we feel would be useful to carry. Remember, what to bring is your decision. You may not need every item, but this list of suggestions is a good start. Your Trip Leader will have a first-aid kit on hand if you are missing anything.
• Ciprofloxicin or another antibiotic for diarrhea.
• Diamox (acetazolomide) for altitude illness.
• Lariam (mefloquine), an oral medication, for prevention of malaria.
• Your own prescription medications.Optional:
• Tylenol with codeine, or another strong medication for pain, for use in emergencies.Personal Medical Supplies
• Pepto-Bismol tablets.
• Ibuprofen or aspirin.
• Sudafed, Dristan, or other cold remedy.
• Benadryl or other antihistamine.
• Immodium or other antidiarrheal.
• Dramamine or other motion sickness medication (if you are susceptible).
• Band-Aids or other bandages. Several sizes.
• Ziploc bag for your first-aid kit.Packing your medical kit:
To reduce the bulk of your medical kit, remove all boxes and packing material. Reduce all quantities to take only what you need.
If you toss all the boxes out, you can fit all the items here into a large zip-loc bag.
VAMOS TIPS ON PHOTO GEAR AND VIDEO
One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to new places is the chance to photograph and thereby capture and bring home some of the wonders of that experience. You will be able to share them with others, relive some of the moments, and savor them for years to come.
Extra Film and Memory Cards
To be sure that you achieve good or great results, a few helpful points should be kept in mind. The first being to bring enough film! Or in the case of the new digital cameras, bring enough memory cards. In many countries film can easily be purchased as needed, but in others the film will be expensive or difficult to find on short notice. Black and white film can be very difficult to find if not impossible. The same is true of the proper memory cards for your digital camera.
Digital File Sizes
One way to maximize the capacity of a digital cameraï¿½s memory card is to set the file size to a lower size. Higher sizes mean better sharpness, less pixelization and the possibility of larger enlargements, but you fill up the memory card sooner. Prices for these cards have come down so you can now own one as large as 1 gigabyte for as little as $100. With a memory card of this size, and with a photo file size of 1 Mb, you can shoot 1,000 shots.
Always be sure to bring enough batteries. Many of the newer cameras being sold today use special batteries that are not AA and will need to be re-charged, so having an extra on hand is a good idea. That way, one can be charged while the other is in use. Or two can be brought along on an extended trip and be ready at a moment’s notice. Remember that using the flash on a camera will drain the battery much faster than you would expect.
Be sure to learn how to turn off the flash when not needed, this way you will not frighten animals at dusk, or blast unsuspecting people when flash is really not necessary. Many digital cameras have a setting for AUTO ISO (film speed) so the camera will automatically increase the film «speed» as the light decreases, allowing non-flash photography when desired. Be sure to turn the flash back on when needed, such as in a backlit situation or in a very dark room. Be aware that a flash really only is useful about 10 feet or less from the camera; after that, it falls off. Therefore, if you are shooting a sunset, there is not much reason to have your camera flash, wasting battery juice.
This brings us to the point of being sure your cameraï¿½s battery charger will work with the local electrical current. As with many appliances, a special plug adapter may be needed to plug your charger into the wall socket; then a special converter transforms the voltage to one your camera will accept. Be sure to check your charge every day – a dead battery will bring your photographic fun to a quick halt. If you are going to be traveling by car while overseas, a cigarette lighter adapter could be helpful to charge things along the way. All cars are 12 volts the world over.
Besides these basic points, a few technical tips may be helpful. When photographing wildlife, a telephoto lens is often necessary to capture the shot. Most cameras today ship with zoom lenses that are not interchangeable, and these cameras have only a 3x or 4x «optical» zoom. This means that the lens is actually magnifying the image to bring far away objects closer. Some cameras have 10x optical zooms. Often an extra adapter can be purchased which will also magnify and aid in shooting photographs of animals that are either too dangerous to get closer to, or a bit further away than you’d like.
When using telephoto lenses be careful to avoid vibration during the exposure. To help guard against the blurriness that results from vibration or movement, you can use a tripod, prop the camera on a fence or table, or simply hold it if you have a very steady hand. Be aware that blurred photos are easier to accidentally achieve with a telephoto lens than a wide lens.
Protecting your lens with a UV filter is a very good idea. When traveling it is easy to get dirt or moisture on the front of your lens, which could permanently damage it. A simple screw in filter can protect the lens, and if the filter were to be damaged, it is much less expensive to replace. It is also a good idea to have a protective case for the camera itself and/or a small camera bag to protect your gear from the elements, harsh sun, and excessive vibration. Today’s cameras are very sophisticated, which allows them to take very good pictures, but they are also built to be lightweight and therefore are sometimes easily damaged if dropped.
Security at airports has become much more stringent and some of the x-ray machines are potentially powerful enough to fog or damage film. You can ask that the film be hand inspected, but the film must be removed from the canister — so ziplock plastic bags are vital. Bring one for exposed film and one for unexposed film. This is another reason to make the switch to digital cameras, as x-rays do not damage digital data. The other reason is that you will never have to buy film again, so every time you take a photograph, the camera is saving you money. Most digital cameras have small preview windows on the back so you can gauge your skills and immediately re-shoot if you do not like the shot – something that is not possible with traditional film cameras.
Camera´s Instruction Manual
Lastly, bring along your cameraï¿½s instruction manual. You may find that while traveling you have time to actually read it!
Bring at least two, and preferably three batteries. Recharging is sometimes difficult due to a lack of outlets and interruptions in electric service. Bring two or more plug adapters.
In Peru, electricity is 220 volts AC, 60 Hz. Bring two or more plug adapters. There is no electricity in the Jungle.
How much luggage can I take with me?
We recommend one large duffel bag or backpack per person on all our tours and it’s preferable to use a big backpack. Also bring along a daypack to carry things you will need during the day. No more than 25 kilos of luggage is our recommendation to avoid extra luggage charges on local transports, but this rarely happens. A smaller duffel bag you can fold up in your bigger one can be very useful for your souvenirs and can be used to store luggage in some of the hotels while we go on shorter overnight excursions..
How much money should I bring with me?
Please refer to personal spending money on each of our trip dossiers, the amounts there are only suggestions, to cover your meals and optional activities. But if you are a great shopper, or you like to try the local cocktails and wines with your meals, then you should probably bring more.
Is there a lot of crime in the places we visit, is it very dangerous?
Definitely NOT. We tend to hear the very worst news from Latin America and nothing about the very friendly, helpful people and extraordinary culture. Most crime is opportunistic and not violent and of course, it is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Care and common sense will nearly always prevail.
Do I need a visa and/or vaccinations?
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Yes, ALL Vamos Expeditions TRAVELERS require travel insurance. You will need to provide your tour leader with details such as the insurance company, policy number and emergency contact number. Please make sure you know exactly what you are covered for, remembering there are many activities available.
Common questions about the Inca Trail:
Are sleeping bags readily available to rent for the Inca Trail or alternative hikes in Peru, and are they in fairly good condition, or is it best to bring our own? We are trying to cut down on the amount of luggage to bring with us, so we would rather rent if it is easy to do so. If we bring our own, what weight would we need to be warm enough?
- A lot depends on the time that you travel (during rain or dry season) but you must be prepared for all types of weather. Dressing in layers is the best way to go. When you are hiking in the mountains and at high altitude you can sometimes encounter unexpected high winds and very cold temperatures, as well as rain. It’s better to be prepared and we recommend you to bring a solid fleece and rainproof jacket, as well as a hat and mitts (or buy them in Cusco inexpensively). At night the temperature can drop to 0 Celsius and you can get cold because you are tired from hiking all day. Don’t forget that it can be very hot and sunny as well during the day so T-shirts and quick-dry trousers/shorts are also recommended!
- You will only be bringing the most necessary items needed for your hike. Anything that you don’t need on the trail will be safely stored in the hotel’s luggage storage room in Cusco.
Is purified water available during the trek?
- Water can be purchased day 1, morning day 2, and evening day 3 of the trail portion of your trip. However, you are not required to buy water as boiled water with which to fill your water bottles will be provided every evening after dinner. If you wish to add water purification tablets to the water for extra safety you should bring those with you. Please note that we do not encourage buying water as it increases the amount of garbage to be taken off of the Trail.
Are there outhouses on the Inca Trail? What about showers?
- There are some toilet facilities, depending on the campsite. Where there are no facilities there will be a toilet tent set up for temporary use. Showers can be rented on the third night but are often cold and crowded. Bowls of warm water are often provided to help you do a quick wash up in the morning and evening.
Is there something we should be doing to prepare for the altitude?
- Everybody reacts differently to altitude. It is generally recommended to take it easy for the first few days at high altitude by the time you start the trail you should have more or less adapted. Your tour leader will have all kinds of helpful tips to help you out, but there isn’t much you can do ahead of time. Perhaps if you are concerned, you might speak with your travel doctor about the possibility of bringing Diamox with you. However, most people do not require the use of prescription drugs on the Inca Trail. The highest altitude you will reach on the trail will be the pass at 4200 meters and you will sleep at approximately 3600 meters for one or two nights.
What do you mean by adventure travel?
- An adventure means: a chance of danger or loss; risk. We run adventure trips often in areas without western infrastructure. As many of these areas do not adhere to western safety standards and may have political or economic instability, there maybe some risk. «Do not book a Vamos Expeditions trip unless you are prepared to accept these risks.»
Is there something we should be doing to prepare for the altitude?
Everybody reacts differently to altitude. It is generally recommended to take it easy for the first few days at high altitude by the time you start the trail you should have more or less adapted. Your tour leader will have all kinds of helpful tips to help you out, but there isn’t much you can do ahead of time. Perhaps if you are concerned, you might speak with your travel doctor about the possibility of bringing Diamox with you. However, most people do not require the use of prescription drugs on the Inca Trail. The highest altitude you will reach on the trail will be the pass at 4200 meters and you will sleep at approximately 3600 meters for one or two nights.
What do you mean by adventure travel?
An adventure means: a chance of danger or loss; risk. We run adventure trips often in areas without western infrastructure. As many of these areas do not adhere to western safety standards and may have political or economic instability, there maybe some risk. “Do not book a Vamos Expeditions trip unless you are prepared to accept these risks.”
What’s the best time to travel to Peru?
With such a dramatical geography, Peru’s climate varies considerably by region (desert coast, Andes and Amazon) and it always great weather somewhere in the country at any time of the year.
Lima and the coastal areas are warm and humid from January to April, but cool during the rest of the year by the fog from the ocean know as La Garua. Though, as soon as you go a little bit inland to the coastal slopes of the Andes it is clear, warm and dry most of the year.
Up in the mountains at a higher altitude a broad fluctuation of temperatures is found on a daily basis. It can be warm during the day in the sun, but cool in the shade and during the nighttime frosts are common.
We consider the best time for a tour to Peru is between April and December because those months it is dry season in the highlands (Cuzco) and the Amazon rainforest. January, February and March are considered the wettest months with its peak in February.
During April, May and June everything is greener because these months come just after the rainy season. During August, September, October and November the Andes turn more into beautiful brown colors.
What’s the best time to travel to Argentina and Patagonia?
The seasons in Argentina are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere, so their summer is winter in Europe and North-America.
The ideal time for a tour to Argentina depends on your destination. The best season to visit the southern region of Argentina (Patagonia) is between November and the end of March, which are the least windy and warmest months for this region (aprox. 21 Celsius Celsius or 70 Farenheit) and with lots of day light. Buenos Aires and the north of Argentina can get hot in this period (37 Celsius or 95 Farenheit) and are ideally visited in Argentina’s fall (March-May) and spring time (September-November). Between March and May the autumnal colors in the wine region (the area Mendoza) are marvelous.
Check some of our most popular Argentina itineraries below and then send us an email