Being in good general physical condition is ideal due to altitude and climate variations on most of our journeys. During the acclimation period, you are more susceptible to infection. And the air is very dry, especially at high altitudes, it is common to have dry mouth and difficulty breathing. The different hygiene conditions, may also affect the body.
If you suffer from hypertension, diabetes or other diseases, we recommend that you be examined by a physician before you book your trip. Similarly, take with you a complete set of travel medication such as digestive aids, pain relievers, etc. Be prepared for any eventuality; we require that all participants purchase international travel health insurance before purchasing your journey and cancellation insurance is recommended.
The journey may also challenge your comfort level in some areas, therefore it is important that you have the ability adapt to the unexpected (bad roads, weather, etc ...). The sooner you immerse yourself in your new environment, culture and customs, better you will enjoy the journey. Due to the quality of life, different schedules and first impression on your journey, everything requires small adjustments and a little patience. Naturally, there are some differences in mentality and behavior between Latin America and the US. Therefore, an open mind and a ready smile are the best approaches.
For more information on vaccines see the questions "What medication should I take", "What are common travel ailments that I should be aware of?" and "What vaccines are recommended for this trip?".
Traveling in South America, is like traveling anywhere. As long as you take normal travel safety precautions, you can avoid most problems.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Please take care when wandering about the main cities on your own, as pick pockets and purse-snatchers are common. Be safe and leave your passport, credit cards, traveller’s cheques and cash you don’t need in the hotel’s safety deposit box. Most South Americans are honest and genuinely helpful and friendly, but be safe and enjoy the city!
Soft suitcase or large backpack or travel bag on wheels li>
Small backpack for day excursions li>
Waterproof jacket or poncho against the rain (can also buy locally) li>
Thick sweater (Andes & Patagonia) + light sweater li>
Long pants li>
Socks and Underwear li>
Hiking shoes li>
Comfortable shoes li>
Swimwear - (for coastal areas, thermal baths, or swimming pools) li>
Here is a simple list of clothes you should pack. This list is only a recommendation of what we suggest you bring, however it is your final discretion.
List of useful items
Towel- Petite Microfiber (light and dries quickly) li>
Small flashlight li>
Digital Camera or even Waterproof Camera (for Galapagos) li>
Binoculars, glasses with protective neck band li>
Travel alarm, games, playing cards, books, travel pillow ... li>
Notepad to keep a daily journal
• Andean Region & Patagonia:
Even during the day it can be cold, because of the altitude and possible wind. It is advisable to include a jacket and one or more warm sweaters for the evening, a windbreaker, hat, and scarf are perfect items to keep out the wind along with rain gear. A simple list of clothes to go!
It is to be adapted to suit your needs!
Light clothing is appropriate, but long pants and long sleeve shirts are useful against mosquitoes. Do not forget swimsuits and towels, as dips in the water are very important.
• Coast and Galapagos:
Summer clothing and / or normal spring wear is needed. A sweatshirt can be useful in the evening. Swimsuit, cap / hat, sunglasses, and above all a sunscreen/ sunblock with a high SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays is essential in Ecuador.
All trip itineraries come with a list of "Excluded Costs," this will give you an estimate of how much money to bring on your own. Additionally, in our experience, travelers spend about $150- $200 per week for meals on our trips. This amount will vary depending on the included meals, and also personal spending on souvenirs. We recommend you bring some money in cash as well as a debit card for making withdrawls in the local currency at ATM's.
Viventura Travel Documents (electronic ticket, flight information ...) li>
Passport - make 2 copies, bring one with you and leave the other at home with an emergency contact. Also scan a copy and save to your email as another reference. li>
Credit Card (VISA is the most commonly accepted, not traveler's checks, they are rarely accepted and the exchange rate is high) li>
Travel Insurance Documents li>
List of Emergency Contact Information li>
It is highly recommended that all passengers are covered with travel insurance before they embark on their trip. We recommend that you take out cancellation insurance to insure in case an unexpected illness, accident or other obligation occurs. A repatriation insurance is highly recommended as well in case problems arise during your trip and need to return home immediately.
We offer travel insurance through our trusted partner Travel Guard. Please contact us for further information on affordable policies.
Most of our tours include private transportation which avoids the issue of carrying your luggage long distances. A suitcase is generally fine yet varies with personal preference and destinations. Please keep in mind that during your journey we will be traveling to a new city very frequently so try to pack only necessities to keep your luggage light for easier travel. Also it would be wise to pack a small backpack to carry small items with you during our day trips.
Our guides are always prepared in case small medical problems arise, however, it is recommended that each participant brings their own health kit containing:
• For acclimatization: drops, nasal spray or ointment, tablets to prevent a sore throat, eye drops (without cortisone, antibiotic-free)
• Diarrhea: re-hydration salt substitutes and liquid as per ex. Salt tablets or medical activated carbon to offset the loss of salt and water. There are pharmacies in small packets of electrolyte powder with varied tastes.
• Remedies in case of a fever and pills in case of a headache (Advil, Aleve, Tylenol.. etc)
• Alcohol-based disinfectants, small cotton disinfectants.
• Medicine that relieve itching from insect, ant , or mosquito bites
• Medicine according to personal needs: against seasickness or motion sickness
• Sunscreen and appropriate after-sun care
If you take prescribed medication, make sure to contact your doctor so you have enough during your travels, as medicines have different names here and might produce different side effects.
Bringing a sleeping bag is not absolutely necessary. If we are going to a camping site you will be able to rent sleeping bags and other camping gear.
However nights can be cold and there is often no heating in some accommodations (Host Families on Lake Titicaca), so you can always bring your own just in case. It is also possible to ask for extra blankets at any of our hotels, lodges, or hosterias.
If you are a U.S. citizen wishing to enter Ecuador, you must present a U.S. passport with at least six months remaining validity. Ecuadorian immigration officials also sometimes request evidence of return or onward travel, such as an airline ticket.
Under Ecuadorian law, U.S. citizens traveling for business or tourism on a tourist passport can enter Ecuador for up to 90 days per calendar year without a visa. Extensions for up to another 90 days can be requested through the provincial migration offices.
If you are planning a visit longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa in advance of your arrival.
More detailed information and requirements for visas in Ecuador can be found at the website of Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can also visit the website for the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States for the most current visa information, or for further information regarding entry, exit or customs requirements. If you stay in Ecuador beyond the terms of your visa, you may be deported or barred from re-entering Ecuador in the future. A substantial fine may be imposed by Ecuadorian Immigration prior to your departure. (updated as of Nov 10, 2012 from travel.state.gov website)