SOUTH AMERICA

WHAT TO PACK

Since the Ecuadorian and Peruvian climates vary dramatically depending upon the elevation, layers are key for travellers to both countries.

  • Important documents: passports and photocopies, travel insurance details and photocopies, credit cards and starter/entry visa/emergency cash ($500 USD in denominations of $50 and under)
  • Cities: light loose cotton clothing - short and long-sleeve tees, skirts, dresses, shorts and pants plus comfortable flat sandals, shoes or sneakers
  • Evenings: skirts, dresses, pants, tops, cardigans and sweaters with sandals or closed toe shoes
  • Activities: comfortable quick drying loose fit activewear, good pair of walking shoes (no need for big chunky boots), swimwear, sun hat, sunglasses, flip-flops, day pack or cross-body bag, reusable water bottle, light scarf, warm fleece, light waterproof rain jacket 
  • Toiletries & medicines: sunscreen, after-sun, insect repellant, motion sickness tablets, prescription medications, biodegradable bath products (for use in the Galapagos) and travel first aid kit
  • Electronics: travel adaptors, cameras, phones, headphones, chargers and portable battery pack
  • For fun: books, magazines, deck of cards, travel  journal

CURIO TRIPS COMPREHENSIVE PACKING LIST...


health

  • Tap water is generally not safe to drink in South America but bottled water is readily available at hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, tourist sites etc. It is recommended you use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Ice is not always made with bottled/boiled water so it is best to order beverages without ice. You can always ask your hotel or guide if the ice is safe to drink in particular places. 
  • Use sunscreen and stay hydrated throughout your trip.
  • Long sleeves and long pants at dusk will help prevent against mosquito bites. 
  • Take your travel first aid kit out with you during the day, just in case.
  • Adequate medical and dental care is available in major cities.  In smaller communities and in the Galapagos Islands, services are limited, and the quality is generally below U.S. standards.
  • Pharmacies are widely available however some medications might not be offered, and brand names will differ from products in the U.S.
     

VACCINATIONS

  • We recommend consulting a travel doctor prior to your trip regarding the required inoculations for Ecuador and Peru.
  • Yellow fever vaccination is only recommended for travellers visiting the Ecuadorian or Peruvian Amazon. The vaccine is a requirement for travellers entering from a country with a perceived yellow fever risk, of which Ecuador and Peru are not. For this trip you should not need the vaccine. 
  • Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines are recommended for trips to South America.
  • It is always wise to ensure your routine vaccines - MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and yearly flu shot are up-to-date when travelling. 
     

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

  • High altitudes affect every traveller differently so until you've visited an area with high altitude it's impossible to predict how your body will react. It is recommended to take your first couple of days easy when entering a high altitude area to give your body time to acclimatise. 
  • Symptoms are generally worse on the first day or two and can include fatigue, headache, light-headedness and nausea. Most hotels at high altitude stock oxygen for travellers feeling the effects of the elevation. Severe altitude sickness is rare but if you do experience it the best treatment is to go down in elevation. 
  • We urge you to consult your doctor prior to your trip to ask if any pre-existing conditions may be aggravated by high altitudes. 
     

TRAVEL INSURANCE

  • It is compulsory to travel with travel insurance to South America. At a bare minimum this should cover medical expenses and medical evacuation, but we also recommend purchasing trip cancellation cover for the entirety of your trip.
  • Your U.S. health coverage and/or Obamacare do not apply overseas.
  • You should carry proof of your health insurance and policy details with you at all times.
     

safety

  • You must abide by local laws when travelling to a new destination.
  • You must present your passport or a copy of your passport if asked to do so by local authorities so please always ensure you are travelling with at least the copy.
  • Do not leave your belongings unattended in airports, hotels, taxis or on the street.
  • Petty crime is prevalent in tourist areas and airports and snatch-and-grab incidents do occur. We recommend you use your room or hotel safe to lock your valuables away and limit the number of items and cash you carry out with you. As an extra precaution you may want to purchase a combination lock for your suitcases.
  • When possible ask hotels and restaurants to book taxis for you and ensure the driver uses the meter or a rate is agreed before you enter. 
  • Pay attention to the advice of your hotel or guide regarding unfamiliar areas or areas to avoid when exploring alone. 
  • Never agree to carry a package, parcel, envelope etc. for anyone you do not know, and never leave your luggage unattended in public places.
  • Be wary of drivers or tourist guides offering to take you somewhere of interest or to their family home. They will tell you that the place you want to visit is closed that day and they can take you to alternative spot. This can often end in a con or a trip to a shop where you will not be sold an item of value but instead a fake. It is best to be firm about where you want to go or find an alternative driver.
  • Avoid ATMs in isolated or poorly lit areas at night.
     

MONEY

  • American Express, VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted throughout South America.
  • ATMs are available in major cities and most airports. 
  • It is advisable to have enough cash on hand for general expenses as credit cards should not be relied upon as your main source of funds.
  • Most hotels, restaurants, markets and other service providers readily accept US dollars as long as bills are not ripped or torn and in denominations of $50 and under.
  • If change is required it will usually be given in the local currency. 
  • The local currency is often more worse-for-wear with rips in. These are readily accepted in comparison to USD cash. 
     

SERVICE CHARGEs & TIPPING

Tipping amounts vary between institutions but typically it is recommended to tip:

  • $10-$15 USD per person per day to guides
  • $5-$10 USD per person per day to drivers and boat crew
  • $10-$15 USD per person per day to hotel staff
  • $1-$5 USD to bell boys
  • Up to 10% in restaurants
     

LANGUAGE

The official language of both Ecuador and Peru is Spanish. Here are a few phrases that may come in handy during your trip:

  • Hello: Hola
  • Goodbye: Adios
  • Good morning: Buenos dias
  • Good afternoon: Buenas tardes
  • Good evening: Buenas noches
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • Thank you very much: Muchas gracias
  • You're welcome: De nada
  • Please: Por favor
  • Good: Bueno
  • Yes: Si
  • No: No
     

COMMUNICATIONS

  • Before departing home contact your service provider to enquire about using your phone abroad. They will let you know your call, text and data roaming options for both Ecuador and Peru. If you purchase a roaming plan once you arrive in country your phone will connect to a local service provider.
  • We recommend turning data off for any apps you do not need to use regularly, as these will drain your data package with automatic updates.
  • Packages vary by provider so be sure to check the rates for local charges and making and receiving calls and texts internationally. 

ECUADOR

fast facts

Capital: Quito
Currency: USD
International dialling code: +593
Emergency services: 101 for police, 131 for ambulance and fire
Time zones: Mainland GMT -5, Galapagos GMT - 6
U.S. Embassy: Avenida Avigiras E12-170 y Ave., Eloy Alfaro, Quito  |  T: +593 (2) 398 5000


passport & visa

  • A valid passport is required for entry to Ecuador
  • Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond your date of departure
  • A visa is not required for tourist visits of 90 days and less
  • 1 blank page required for entry stamp
     

CLIMATE IN JANUARY

 Daytime average: 68º F with sunny warm days
Overnight average: 50ºF
Sunrise: 06:20         Sunset: 18:30       Sunshine hours: 12hrs
 

CULTURE & RELIGION

  • Ecuador is a tiny country that packs a punch. Bounded by Peru to the south and east, Colombia to the north and the Pacific Ocean, home of the Galapagos Islands, to the west, it also straddles the equator. The country can be divided into four regions: the lowlands, the Andean highlands, the Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands. For these reasons it has been dubbed a mega-diversity hotspot.
  • The predominant religion is Roman Catholic, but there is a scattering of other Christian faiths.
  • Spanish is the main language throughout Ecuador, but most highland Indians are bilingual with Quechua being their preferred language. In recent years the growing tourism industry has introduced English as a second language in many destination cities, like Quito and the Galapagos Islands.
     

FOOD & DRINK

Ecuadorian cuisine consists of mainly meat, potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, corn and seafood. A few local dishes to try are: 

  • Ceviche: marinated seafood including seabass and shrimp served with plantain chips or toasted corn
  • Fried yuca: cassava french fries
  • Llapingachos: fried potato patties stuffed with cheese
  • Empanadas: meat, vegetable or cheese stuffed pastry that is baked or fried
  • Bolon de Verde: "the ball" consists of mashed plantains filled with meat or cheese that is then fried and served hot
     

electricity

  • Two flat pin plug. Power in Ecuador comes out at 110V, the same as in the U.S. For this reason you do not need a convertor or adaptor, but you will in Peru (see below).

PERU

fast facts

Capital: Lima
Currency: Sol
International dialling code: +51
Emergency services: 105 for police, ambulance and fire
Time zone: GMT -5
U.S. Embassy: Avenida La Encalada, cdra 17 s/n, Sucro, Lima 33  |  T: +51 (1) 618 2000


passport & visa

  • A valid passport is required for entry to Peru
  • Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond your date of departure
  • A visa is not required for tourist visits of 183 days and less
  • 1 blank page required for entry stamp at the port of entry
     

CLIMATE IN JANUARY

 Daytime average: 73º F with sunny warm days
Overnight average: 60ºF
Sunrise: 05:55         Sunset: 17:45       Sunshine hours: 12hrs
 

CULTURE & RELIGION

  • Peru is known as the land of the Incas with Cusco being the cultural capital of the country. 
  • Peruvian culture is a beautiful mix of Hispanic and native traditions. The Quechua and the Aymara are the two main native cultures of Peru, both of whom speak their native languages. These Inca descendants have successfully preserved and developed their proud cultures.
  • Peruvian typical dress is bright and colourful and sight for the eyes.
  • The predominant religion of Peru is Roman Catholic.
  • Spanish is the main language throughout Peru with the number of English speakers growing rapidly. 
     

food & drink

Peruvian ingredients are similar to those found in Ecuador, with the addition of heat. Peruvian food consists mainly of soups and stews, corn pancakes, rice, eggs and vegetables.Some local dishes to try include:

  • Lomo Saltado: stir fried soy-marinated beef with onions and tomatoes and served with rice and fries
  • Aji de Gallina: shredded chicken served in a creamy sauce with rice and potatoes
  • Picante de Cuy: roasted guinea pig, one of Peru's most famous dishes
  • Rocoto Relleno: hot pepper stuffed with beef, onions, raising, herbs, spices and more and topped with cheese
  • La Causa: layered potato casserole typically served cold as a side dish
     

electricity

  • Two flat pin plug or two round pin plug. Power in Peru comes out at 220V, higher than in the U.S. For these reasons you will need a transmission convertor and travel adaptor for your trip.