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Travel in Ecuador
General information
Planning your trip
When to go
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 WHAT TO TAKE
Clothing and packing suggestions
For the Highlands, since we are in the Andes, you should bring some warm clothes. For the Galapagos cruise, dress must be casual and informal. Neutral colored clothing [tan, khaki, bush green] is best for game viewing since bright colors, including white, can startle wildlife. Camouflage colored clothing is frequently associated with the military and is best left at home. Rugged, lightweight, comfortable, casual clothing which can be layered is the most suitable - for example, khaki and/or canvas pants; a T-shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater or sweatshirt, and a windbreaker, jacket, or down vest, hat and light-weight gloves for cool mornings and evenings; and warm sleeping attire [sweat-suits are ideal]. Lightweight "polar fleece" garments are ideal for layering; many new nylon micro-fiber fabrics, such as "supplex", are as comfortable as cotton in hot climates, but are much lighter weight, take up less room in luggage, and dry extremely quickly. Outdoor outfitters and many sportswear catalogs carry a variety of garments which you might find useful. Long underwear made of silk or a high-tech synthetic fiber is an easy-to-pack layer for extra warmth and to use as sleepwear. You may wish to take a swimsuit for the pools at some locations. Comfortable walking or jogging shoes or lightweight hiking boots are suitable. Most members welcome a change to other casual shoes for evening. Thongs or sports sandals, such as Tevas, can double as slippers. You might want to bring optional dressier attire for dining in hotels and the ship, especially during welcome and farewell dinners.

Binoculars are essential for wildlife viewing. We recommend that couples traveling together bring a pair for each person, if possible, since opportunities for good sightings of birds or animals are often fleeting. All binoculars are listed by power and brightness -- e.g., 7x20 or 10x50; the first number indicates the degree of magnification, the second, relative brightness and field [width] of vision. For wildlife observation, you should have a minimum power [magnification] of 7; 7x35 or 8x40 are excellent choices. Compact models, in the 7x20 range, can fit in a pocket and are very lightweight, but sacrifice brightness and field of vision and can be more difficult to use than larger models. "Center-focus" binoculars are easier to use than "I.F." ["individual focus"] models. "Armored" or rubber-coated models are generally more shock-resistant, and some are also waterproof. These may be important considerations for frequent travelers. These should be available in a price range of $90 to $300, and available at most good camera stores [or perhaps discount chain stores].

Pack with comfort, weight restrictions |see luggage, below||, and ease of washing in mind. Packing like items in separate large plastic bags can help prevent them from shifting in your duffel bag and make things easier to locate.

Following is a suggested packing list, to be modified based on your personal needs and preferences:

Medical and first aid item
any prescription drugs and vitamins you use
antacids, decongestants, throat lozenges, and other medications that you use for common ailments
Pepto-Bismol or similar medications
aspirin or other analgesic
Band-Aids, antiseptic, and topical antibiotic
strong insect repellent and insect-bite relief products
sunscreen and sunburn relief products, chap stick

The following items occasionally come in handy; experienced travelers often pack them routinely: flat sink stopper for faulty drains, skirt/pants hangers or clothes pins, extension cord for hairdryer, travel clothesline, extra luggage locks, tissue packs, pre-moistened towlettes, a small mirror [one that stands up independently is especially helpful for shaving or putting on make-up], rubber bands and safety pins, sewing kit, washcloths, pocket calculator, earplugs, eyeshades, travel hairdryer, collapsible walking stick, hard candies and high energy snack food such as granola bars or chocolate.

Photography
Be sure that you are familiar with your camera - including accessories such as flashes and lenses - before leaving home. If your camera is new, load at least one roll of film yourself and photograph a range of subjects, including scenery, people, and objects; then have the film processed and review your results. If you are familiar with your camera but use it infrequently, it is a good idea to have it checked by a professional camera repair shop before traveling. Carry your manual with you on the trip in case problems arise.

Make sure your camera has new batteries before embarking on your trip. [Testing batteries is advisable since "new" doesn't always mean they're good]. Take all the equipment you will need for your camera system as well as supplies such as cleaning paper and fluid. Be sure to bring plenty of film and extra batteries since their availability will be limited on our itinerary and prices will be higher than in the United States. A guideline for the amount of film to take is one roll per day, plus an extra roll for every event or location highlighted on the itinerary. To avoid disappointment, pack too much film instead of too little. Many professionals consider that ISO 100 film speed provides the best general results, whether you shoot print or slide film, and produces excellent enlargements. New ISO 100 films are excellent in both sharpness and color retention. For low light conditions, you may wish to bring faster speed film such as ISO 200 or 400, especially if you are not bringing a tripod or other steadying device. These films provide acceptable results under dim conditions, such as in rain forests, which, despite the bright light of the tropics, have very low light.

Many professional photographers feel that film speeds of ISO 100 and lower may be safely scanned by x-ray devices at airports. Films that are ISO 200 or higher are perhaps safer in lead bags packed in your checked baggage. However, due to increased security precautions worldwide, many airports routinely scan all bags by x-ray, including checked baggage, at a high enough intensity to penetrate even lead bags.

Other items that you may find useful include a fine-point indelible marking pen to code your film for identification when you return home, and cotton swabs such as Q-tips for cleaning hard-to-reach areas. Large, heavy-duty garbage bags can protect your camera bag or daypack in inclement weather. For travel in wet conditions, you might want to consider "dry bags," available in most outdoor outfitters and water-sport stores, for keeping your camera equipment waterproof. A less expensive alternative is to secure each object in a heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Bring extra bags since they puncture and tear easily. Either method will also protect your camera gear from dust and humidity.

Video camera batteries can be recharged in some camps, lodges, and hotels, using your standard 120/220 battery charger and a 3-prong round plug adaptor |see electrical current, below||. On other occasions, you may need to recharge in the central office facility or from the cigarette lighters in the safari vehicles; you will need a 12-volt adaptor for this purpose. Please consult with your local camera store about the necessary equipment.

The people of South America are generally willing to have their photos taken, though in some cases you should ask permission first and some may ask for something in return. In all instances, please use discretion.

Luggage
A duffel bag weighing no more than 40 pounds and one carry-on bag weighing no more than 15 pounds. There will be laundry services with same day service available only in Quito hotels.

Please be sure you can lock any luggage you plan to check.

Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.

Luggage tags will be included in your final document package. Please attach a completed tag to each piece of luggage, including your carryon bag, to help facilitate baggage claim at transfer points.

Reading list
To help you prepare for this adventure, we are enclosing a list of carefully selected books about Ecuador. In addition to these specialized books, you may want to browse in the travel section of your local bookstore for more general guidebooks. Video stores carry an increasingly large selection of tapes featuring wildlife and wild places, and you may also find back issues of National Geographic to be a good source of interesting and useful information. Please see the recommended reading section for further information.

Electrical current
The electrical voltage in Ecuador is 110 volts, 60 cycles An electrical converter will be necessary to run small 110 volt U.S. appliances unless they have a dual-voltage switch. If you wish to bring small U.S. electrical appliances with you, they should be dual-voltage, or you should bring an international power converter kit that includes a dual voltage converter and a range of adaptor plugs.
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