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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Cruise: Santiago to Los Angeles

Tour Information

**Information on booking this cruise both with WINGS and Princess Cruises can be found in the Notes section at the bottom of the WINGS Santiago to Buenos Aires cruise webpage or by clicking here.

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING CHILE: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens. Citizens of other countries may need a visa, and should check with the Chilean embassy or consulate. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.

CHILE RECIPROCITY FEES: As of February 26, 2014 citizens of the United States do not have to pay the USD $160 entry (“reciprocity”) fee. UK citizens also do not have to pay this fee. Australian (USD $60) and Canadian citizens (USD $132) are still required to pay. Payment is due upon arrival in Santiago; a receipt will be stapled into the passport.  These fees may change annually and can be paid in cash (but be warned you need pristine bills) or credit card.

TRANSFER BETWEEN AIRPORT AND HARBOR: If you participate in the pre-tour extension in Chile, you will travel with the group and your leader to the ship and board together. If you don’t participate in the extension, you will have to arrange your transfer from the Santiago airport to the harbor, and we highly recommend you to do that through Princess Cruises.

ENTERING PERU, COSTA RICA, NICARAGUA and MEXICO: U.S. citizens need a passport valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. Citizens of other countries may need a visa to enter one or several of these countries. Please refer to your cruise information from Princess for country entry details.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1088.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

HEALTH: The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Specific vaccinations and proof thereof may be required to enter the country.For entry and exit information please visit the U.S. State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/. We strongly recommend contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

There are no major health risks during most of our cruise, and no cholera, typhoid or yellow fever risk during our land excursions.

The CDC mentions a risk for malaria in some provinces of Costa Rica and Nicaragua but the risk of getting malaria at the places we visit during our land excursion is very low. Furthermore, the mosquito which transmits malaria is mostly active at dawn and dusk when we will still be onboard ship, lowering even more the low risk of getting malaria.

A tetanus booster is always a good idea before traveling. You should also be sure that your routine vaccinations are up to date for measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, etc. As some of these inoculations cannot be given concurrently please contact your doctor well in advance of the tour to start your course of treatment.

Water supplies are good, but bottled water is also widely available. Immodium or Pepto Bismol in tablet form can be recommended as the best treatment for occasional traveler’s diarrhea. For mosquitoes, which we may occasionally encounter, we recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. However, care must be taken to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment, as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective alternatives that contain natural products and aren’t corrosive.

Since it may be impossible to obtain personal medications while on tour, please bring what you will need.

SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. The ship is generally non-smoking, with areas provided for smokers. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

ALTITUDE: On the land excursions organized during the cruise we won’t be at elevations higher than about 1,500 feet, so altitude sickness will not be a concern during the main tour.

PACE OF THE TOUR: The tour starts after meeting on the cruise ship in the San Antonio harbor. The tour is divided in two different types of birding: the sailing days and the land excursions days. The location of the group for birding while on board the ship will depend on the weather conditions and time of the day. This will be explained by your leader during the first meeting. When sailing, the leader will indicate exactly where and when he will be birding, and you can join for him as long as you want: for just a couple of hours if you also want to enjoy some of the activities offered by the cruise line, or full day if you don’t want to miss any seabirding action.

Due of the nature of the type of birding being out at the crack of dawn is not as much a prerequisite as on hot tropical land tours (though there is usually more seabird activity early in the morning). During the sailing days, the leader is usually on deck birding from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and again from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and you can join him when and as long as you want. There may of course be special areas during which we’ll want to be on deck regardless of the time. The leader will brief you on these well in advance.

For the land excursions, the whole group will meet half an hour before the official landing time to be able to leave the ship quickly as a group and have as much as possible on our land excursions. We usually leave just after breakfast and depart for a day of birding and/or travel with box lunches and a supply of snacks (fruit, cookies, etc.) and drinks to keep us going. Most of the walking is on level to gently sloping terrain, and there are no long hikes; we do a lot of birding from in or near the vehicle.

Note: on occasion weather (or other uncontrollable circumstances) may force the last-minute cancellation of a land excursion. In most of these cases a refund won’t be available. This happens rarely but is worth mentioning.

CURRENCY: During the land excursions, there are usually stands with people selling handicrafts or wine before re-boarding the ship, and payment can be done in US dollars. It’s a good idea to bring smaller US$ bills (10s, 5s, and 1s, rather than 20s and 50s).

CLIMATE: Expect tropical climate during most of the trip, so temperature will be quite warm (expect temperatures at mid-day between 75 and 85 degrees F) during each of our landings. The difference will mostly be the humidity: dry in Chile, Peru and Mexico, and hot and humid in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

At sea, the temperature will be cooler, especially off Chile and Peru, with air temperature closer to 65 degrees F.

ACCOMMODATIONS: During the cruise, you can choose between several levels of accommodations, see http://www.princess.com/learn/ships/np/staterooms/index.jsp to learn more.

FOOD: An impressive variety of food is served on board ship. Food is served 24 hours a day, and there is no obligation to eat all meals with the group. For lunch, the easiest option is usually to eat at one of the buffets or have a pizza or sandwich. The buffet option is available for dinner as well, though some participants may opt to have a more formal dining experience at one of the ship’s restaurants. Each day the leader will let you know where and when the group will meet for the daily list round-up, and at which restaurant the group will take dinner.

On most on-shore days during the cruise picnic lunches will consist of make-your-own sandwich fare.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, we cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot, regretfully, be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times generally cannot be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: Most of our land transportation will be in 20-seater coaches. We will sometimes be on dusty gravel roads.

Updated: 26 September 2017