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Packing for the Peruvian Amazon

Peru’s share of the Amazon jungle is a natural hotspot for adventure seekers and nature travel enthusiasts. Surprisingly, however, a lot of them come unprepared for the trip—and this can put a damper in what’s otherwise an amazing experience. If you’re planning a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, make sure you’re well prepared—after all, you’ll be miles away from any phone booth, drugstore, or consulate. Here are some things worth keeping in mind.

Medications and insurance: First, make sure you have adequate travel insurance on hand, as medical treatment can be costly. Malaria vaccines usually take ten days to kick in, so plan in advance. Bring medications for common discomforts, such as aspirin for headaches, antibiotics for cuts and scrapes, and antihistamines for insect bites and allergies. You can ask your doctor for a list of recommendations when you come for your vaccine.

Skin protection: Bring a good sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, especially if you’re going in the high summer. Insects are common year-round, so a good insect repellent is essential—experts recommend one with a high DEET content as opposed to “natural” products like citronella, which are much less effective.

Footwear: You’ll probably be doing a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are essential. Your best bet is a pair of tennis shoes or sneakers, or anything light and canvas-topped that’s already broken in. You may also want to bring an old pair you can afford to lose for when you have to wade in water or trudge on muddy trails. Rubber or gum boots may also be necessary. You can get most of these in Peru, but size options may be limited.

Vision: Waterproof lightweight binoculars can help you see more of the wildlife. If you’re not sure of the weather, get fog-resistant ones. Polarized sunglasses are also useful for really bright days, as the sun can sometimes be too strong for comfort. Alternatively, you can bring a wide-brimmed hat—it provides shade and also comes in handy when it rains.

Clothing: Much of it depends on the season, but since most tourists come in the summer, lightweight clothing is recommended. Jeans aren’t ideal as they’re heavy and take a while to dry. Stick to breathable fabrics such as cotton, and bring both short and long-sleeved shirts as temperature changes can be drastic throughout the day. Other items to consider include wool socks (great for padding rubber boots), swimsuits, and a light jacket or parka if you’re traveling in the highlands.

Donations: Although not essential, gifts to small villages you pass on the way will be greatly appreciated. Books (in Spanish), school supplies, clothes, and food are some of the more popular donations.