Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Peru: The Manu Biosphere Preserve and Machu Picchu. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.
ENTERING PERU: For United States citizens a passport valid on the day on entry and with one blank page, and a return airline ticket are required. Visas are not necessary; a tourist permit will be stamped into your passport upon arrival.
Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check the website of their nearest Peruvian 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.
A valid Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from a country where the disease is endemic.
It is always a good idea to take photocopies of your passport and air ticket with you when traveling abroad. They can prove invaluable in helping you get replacements if your original documents are lost or stolen. You should pack the photocopies separately from the originals.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/peru.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes here: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pe.html
PACE OF THE TOUR: Sunrise in southern Peru this time of year is around 6:00 a.m. and sunset is at about 5:40 p.m.; we will be rising early on most mornings (with an early breakfast) to connect witth the best bird activity. On some days we’ll schedule optional owling/nightjar outings either in the evening or before dawn, and we’ll attempt to adjust the next day’s schedule to compensate. We also schedule time off after lunch or an hour or two before dinner each day and typically end most days by 8 pm (having eaten and completed the day’s bird lists).
We will be at elevations up to nearly 11,000 feet (3200 m) for the first day of the tour but much lower after that. Much of our birding on the first part of the tour will be done while walking on roads, and uphill, downhill, and some rugged terrain is inevitable (this is the Andes!). At the jungle lodges on the Manu and Madre de Dios rivers, most of our walking will be on trails. Furthermore, there are one or two walks about two miles in length at the most, but we will advise participants of the conditions and they can opt out of the hardest hikes.
When on the road, we’ll not be far from the bus, but one should be prepared for long periods of standing and walking slowly, and a small travel stool is handy for those who find this tiring. The forest trails may be muddy in spots, and short roadside vegetation could be wet from dew or rains, so waterproof footgear is highly recommended – waterproof hiking boots or even rubber boots are best, but if you don’t mind having wet feet, a cheap pair of sneakers also works, as long as you have something dry and clean to change into back at the room.
HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
Malaria: The CDC considers Peru to be of low risk for travelers contracting malaria. While malaria is not common in the Manu area, it does exist, and the CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as wearing long sleeves and pants and the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking.
Yellow Fever: A Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended by the CDC.
Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.
The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Peru can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/peru .
Altitude: This tour involves two days at elevations over 11,000 feet. If you have cardio-vascular issues, please consult your doctor concerning these higher elevations.
Insects: Many potential health problems can be prevented by adequate protection against insects. Even when mosquitoes may be sparse, biting gnats and chiggers can still be a nuisance. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field.
Snakes: We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive; in any event, a small flashlight or headlamp is a necessity for navigating the paths between your rooms and dining areas at each lodge in the evenings.
Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. 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.
Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.
Miscellaneous: One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. Please consult with your physician. We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available. Gastrointestinal problems are always a possibility while traveling; you may want to bring Immodium or some other reliable anti-diarrhea medication. Finally, you may wish to bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic in case of stubborn bacterial infections.
CLIMATE: At the time of our visit, the austral spring, coastal Lima is seasonally foggy, damp, and chilly, necessitating a sweater. Cusco, an Andean town, is cold at night and early in the day (potentially down to the lower 30s °F). During the afternoon, it can be very bright and sun protection should be used. At Wayqecha, morning could be in the low 40’s °F, but in the lowlands expect temperatures in the 70s to high 80s °F with high humidity later in the tour. Rain is probable in the eastern Andes and lowlands. To deal with all climatic contingencies we recommend light gloves and a rain jacket that could double as a windbreaker and a sweater for the highlands and light weight warm weather clothes for the lowlands. A compact umbrella is essential for birding in light rain.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We always stay in comfortable accommodation, or the best available, and we’ve reserved rooms with private baths at all locations where possible. In Lima we stay in a modern hotel. Elsewhere on the tour, our accommodations are more basic eco-lodge quality, but still very nice, wooden construction with hot water and private baths. Single accommodation not be guaranteed at one lodge.
FOOD AND DRINK: Food on our southeastern Peru tours is quite good. We start all days with warm breakfasts, almost always including scrambled eggs or an omelet. Lunches are either back at our lodge or, during transfer days, a boxed lunch prepared by the lodge, usually including something like a chicken-pasta dish, fruit, juice, and cookies. All dinners are at our lodges and, like the sit-down lunches, usually start with a delicious soup and then follow with a main dish with trout, chicken, or beef, rice, potatoes, cooked vegetables, and sometimes a salad. Dinners are followed by a simple dessert. We have no reservations about eating fresh vegetables or drinking beverages with ice at our lodges, which cater largely to foreigners like ourselves. A couple of our lodges have only a very limited selection of alcoholic drinks available, though all have wine and can also prepare pisco sours, the Peruvian national cocktail.
Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual; our lodges typically have filtered water available for refilling your own bottles. We also keep bottled water on the bus for ‘emergency’ use during the day. As it can get hot and dry, we recommend you bring a large, good quality water bottle and keep this topped up.
TRANSPORTATION: The flights to Cusco and back from Puerto Maldonado will be in a modern, full-sized jets (such as an Airbus 320), and our transportation from there will be in a small bus provided by our ground agent. Most road travel will be on an unpaved, often bumpy road, but we are fortunate just to have roads into this fabulous area. After our days at Villa Carmen, we’ll travel by motored outdoor boat in long, dug-out style boats with comfortable seats and a covered roof. Our return to civilization will be downriver by boat, followed by a bus ride on a paved highway back to Cusco.
Updated: October 2014