Iquitos is a fascinating city in the middle of a fascinating jungle. The people are friendly, curious and willing to engage a new friend. Having said that, things are very rarely what they seem to be and you will often get "snookered" and not even realize it.
- Make sure you know EXACTLY what you are paying for and what it does NOT include.
- Never give more than half the money for anything up front, even though a deposit is a common way of doing business.
- Get reputable references before entering into any financial agreement. There are plenty of us locals, that can tell you what is a sham.
- Don't panic if you forget something. Iquitos is a half a million people with stores of every kind, including pharmacies, clothing, groceries etc.
- Bring along a carabiner and clip your backpack or purse to your chair at restaurants or other hanging out places.
- You can buy cheap ponchos, rubber boots and mosquitoes nets for use on a jungle trek then give them to a poor jungle family when you are finished...saves space while traveling.
- Spray your jungle clothes before you leave the US with the clothing repellent including your socks. It WORKS and you can use less deet on your skin that way. I would also recommend getting a regular dosage of a B complex of vitamins in your system, misquitoes don't like the smell it emits from your skin and having the vitamins can't hurt.
- Get your money changed by the hotel personnel or tour company you are with. The changers on the street have a hundred ways to rip you off. There are good, honest ones that will come to your hotel but make sure someone is representing YOU or you may end up with counterfiet bills. Here is another link to our "money" page. This is a ton of information...take it seriously.
- Keep your arms and legs inside a motorkars and when crossing the street know that the drivers will run over you without thinking about it.
- Bring sunglasses or clear glasses to wear when in motorkars, it is the only eye protection you will have and there is a lot of dirt, dust and pepples kicked up from other vehicles.
- Always carry light rain gear in your pack, this is the rain forest and it can look clear and sunny one minute and be pouring down rain the next.
Here is a page from the People of Peru Project talking about trip planning in General....
A list of suggested items and packing ideas: Keep in mind this was written for volunteer groups that are representing this organization.
MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU HAVE A VALID PASSPORT. A copy of this document is not sufficient. Check the expiration date. There should be at least 6 months beyond the end of the trip before it expires. Some countries will not allow entrance unless there is a 6 month buffer. Leave one copy at home. Forward another copy to me along with your other paper work.
AIRPORT FEES. Each airport charges an exit fee when leaving to go to any other destination. The fee is minimal when leaving Lima to go to Iquitos and vise versa but they charge approximately 25.00 to leave Lima on the way back to the United States. The total for your fees will be around $36.00 per person. Please keep that in mind when planning your budget.
IMMUNIZATIONS. Check with your doctor or go to your local health department to get these shots. For the trip to Peru, you will need:
1. Hepatitis A & B
2. Yellow fever
3. Tetanus (required to be current) Childhood immunizations should be up-to-date.
4. A preventative measure against Malaria -- Doxycycline (recommended). This is a protection from malaria and helps to bolster your immune system against the typical digestive disorders that can affect you while traveling.
Complete and return the enclosed Health History Form/Consent to Treat & Travel.
Please don't wait until the last minute to do this -- if you do, it will be a headache for all of us.
Your parent's signature must be notarized if you are under 18.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Travel insurance would be a good thing to invest in. Although we do not provide insurance through our organization, we can give suggestions on where you might look if you do not currently have travel insurance. Check to make sure that it covers the following: medical, hospitalization, evacuation, lost luggage, lost passport & trip cancellation, etc. Travel insurance usually does not cover any preexisting health conditions.
Jeans, light weight pants or shorts and t-shirts/tank tops are appropriate for the work day. A light water resistant windbreaker is good for a rainy evening. If you are going to Cuzco you will definitely need warm clothes. Do that in layers as the temperature changes all the time.
Church: The Christian community is very conservative in their worship dress. For the ladies, skirts and blouses are appropriate for worship services. Guys should bring long slacks and a short sleeve dress shirt. The boys and men consider it a privilege to wear a tie to church. You can wear one while you're there and then give it as a gift to a new friend when you leave.
There are churches in Iquitos of every mainstream denomination and we will arrange the schedule so that your group can have a meaningful worship experience with a Peruvian flavor.
Suggestion: Buy some clothing to donate and leave them with the people in Peru or use it to trade for souvenirs. They'll be thrilled and you will have more room in your suitcase for your souvenirs. If you bring clothes or shoes specifically to give away that are not the ones you are wearing, please bring smaller sizes. These are small people. Most shoes for example, need to be smaller than a size seven women's or size 10 and smaller for a man. They can not use winter clothes in Iquitos, large sizes, or shoes the size of gunboats. ;-)
When you see how the average person in Iquitos dresses and how many days in a row they wear the same clothing, you will understand why it is not necessary to have a different outfit every day. You will have more earthly possessions in your suitcases then most of these people own.
Inexpensive sunglasses, bandannas, T-shirts, watches, etc., make great gifts or can be used for trade or gifts late in the trip.PERSONAL CARE ITEMS:
Swimming suit (large enough to cover all strategic areas)
COMFORTABLE SHOES (forget fashion), running shoes or light weight hiking shoes and sandals, or shower thongs. Keens or Teva's are great. The models that provide comfort, fresh air and protected toes are perfect.
LAUNDRY: There are cheap and easy laundry services available.
Contact wearers: Along with your contacts bring a pair of glasses, if possible. There is a log of dust on the roads. Toiletries (brush, comb, shampoo, soap, toothbrush & paste, deodorant, etc.) Towel & washcloth.
Adequate supply of personal medications. Waterless hand cleaner (a must)
One roll of toilet tissue, insect repellent, sunblock
Don't Panic..if you forget any of the above except contacts hand sanitizer and special medication we can buy any or all of this stuff in town.
Sleeping pad (foam or the small self-inflatable type) and light weight blanket. In the jungle (at our facility) you will need the sleeping pad so there are two times you will be glad you have it. Most outdoor stores carry the fleece sleeping bag liners (around $12). This is all you will ever need for warmth and most of the time not even that. If you have a small travel pillow, you may want to bring it.
Snacks: Trail mix and dried fruit for traveling (pack it in your carry-on. The children love granola bars. There are days when the meals get spread out a bit, so a take along snack is never a bad idea. You can buy many different types of snack food in Iquitos...chips, cookies, crackers etc..don't worry!
Camera and film or digital memory cards:
Electric converter for recharging batteries: camera, hair appliances, etc. Peru is on a 220 voltage electrical current. Many electrical items have 110 volt and 220 volt capabilities, check them out or ask someone that knows. This will save you from buying a converter. ( Both of my camera chargers are dual current and plug directly into the outlet in Peru). You can download pictures and have them burned on a CD in Iquitos.
A journal to record your adventures and a picture of your family to show your new friends. (Be careful that your picture shows only your family and not a background of opulence or wealth.)