View Full Version : PLEASE help my sister-in-law!!!

01-27-2011, 22:58
So my sister in law is leaving for Ecuador, South America on Feb. 10. She has done all of the possible logistical planning/prep work she needs to get done to get there. She will be out there for four months and plans on backpacking through the region. Her problem is she has only an osprey backpack and nothing else gear wise.

She is planning on being in jungle most of the time, but she may travel over to Chile and explore Patagonia for a while as well. I do consider myself to be an avid/knowledgable backpacker, but I have not ever hiked in jungle conditions. She does not know what she wants/needs for gear so she needs your help White Blaze.

I thank you.

01-27-2011, 23:06
If she hasn't done so yet, she might find some help at the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forums (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa). Good luck!

01-27-2011, 23:08
First thing I'd do is to get a hammock to get off the ground. No...I've never been there.

01-27-2011, 23:22
I'v been to Panama and parts of central America if that helps... I am not the expert my dad past away he was...Good Rain gear monsoon season...Military jungle boots they breath and have eyelits to let the waterout....HikerHead said Hammock....A Good First Aid Kit and all your shots updated with her doctor..I had to get 15 to be deployed there..Get a good knife as well...Aquiramira and a water purification unit..Light summer bag..Mosq netting..... same type of clothing we wear on the trail and whatever for the cities...About everything we take on our trips now...

01-27-2011, 23:22
Jungle gear depends on what elevation she's going to be at. The higher jungle areas on the east side of the Andes are high enough that malaria isn't a problem. If she's going to be in the lower elevations, she should make sure she has bug netting for sleeping under and maybe prophylactic medicine for malaria. A hammock is an excellent idea. Temperatures vary widely depending on elevation. I spent a February there a long time ago and it was very wet. Mudslides were common, making road travel very iffy. Definitely check out Lonely Planet.

01-27-2011, 23:46
Hey there,
I actually live in Bolivia and will be headed to Ecuador in the middle of May, but to visit a dear American friend who lives there. Feel free to write me personally and my friend can in Ecuador can give her more specific info about the country and probably be able to give her a place to stay as well :) jenny_lowery@ntm.org

First of all, the jungle is a whole other story from the AT. If she plans on camping, a hammock is always a good idea and mosquito netting is a MUST! And even though it's warm, it's best to wear long pants in the jungle because the bugs are terrible, even with bug spray. It's also more culturally appropriate for women to wear pants and just dressing more appropriate will keep her safer from strange men. (They all want to marry an American hoping for a green card, and showing leg only encourages them. Trust me :) It's also rainy season until Aprilish, so she should be prepared for wet (and sometimes very cold) weather, esp. in the jungle. In the rain, it usually drops into the 60's, which doesn't sound cold, but it is when yesterday was 95.

Is she going with a group? I've never heard of anyone attacking the jungle without a guide except for missionaries and crazy anthropologists :) Trekking in South America is not hiking the AT. It's actually very dangerous to do a jungle trek solo because of getting lost, the cocaine trade, and a distrust of foreigners among people in the countryside. So I highly encourage her to go with a guided group in the jungle and whatever guide she goes with can tell her more specifically what she'll need as far as gear is concerned. Most of the time, the guide provides the necessary gear like stoves/tent and usually the food as part of the price of the trek.

The backpackers that I've met who come through Bolivia are mainly doing the tourist thing and so their pack is the only gear they have. They stay in hostels, which provide a kitchen with pots and pans, etc. They are mostly Europeans (I've yet to meet an American backpacker), but they've all seemed to be nice people that she could join up with for trekking.

I don't want to scare you with dangers of South America either. It's a wonderful, wild kind of place that isn't very explored. I've been here 5 years with no real danger, but I also speak fluent spanish and I stay constantly aware of my surroundings. And there are lots of great places to see here in Bolivia too, like the salt flats and lake titicaca (Copacabana). I'll be going to Cusco, Peru and Macchu Picchu on my way to Ecuador, which is also a must if she'll already be down here...and you have to to through Peru to get to Chile :)

But please, tell her to write me and I can connect her to people I know down here.

01-27-2011, 23:48
And visiting Lonely Planet is a great idea for travelling down here!

01-28-2011, 06:34
Hi, this is skinnyd's wife, not-so-skinny t,
It is my sister who is the one backpacking through south america. She has had all of her shots and just yesterday received malaria pills. She has been reading the book The Lonely lanet puts out. She will be alone, but is planning on staying at hostels to meet up with other backpackers. She says that the Lonely Planet has excellent resources for guiding groups, and she is planning on using those for her tours. My sister has her degree in biology and has spent the last 3 years working at a marina. I think this is a great way for her to observe other life on this planet. She is quite prepared in being safe, having read the embassy's warnings, and knowing other safety measures (using the embassy posted reliable cab companies, never taking money out of an outside ATM etc). She has done her research, but gear wise seems a tad lost. Thank you all for your suggestions. My husband has suggested a hammock. I am not sure what she is wearing for footwear, but military boots seem like a good way to go. I know she will be traveling over lots of different terrains and elevations, with only her pack, so I think she wants gear to span all temps and weathers.
Please keep the advise coming,
Jenny, I will definitely give her your email address. Any connection would be welcome, I am sure. Thank you for that =)

01-28-2011, 06:54
If she does decide to go with a hammock, then make sure that the hammock has something more than a thin layer of nylon underneath. Mosquitoes can bite through the nylon into your unprotected backside! For this reason, check out Clark's Tropical 2 Hammock (http://www.junglehammock.com/models/tropical/index.php).

Rocket Jones
01-28-2011, 07:51
Don't rely on just the US Embassy warnings/alerts. Check on several countries (Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and others if you speak the language). Not all countries put the same emphasis on tourist safety, and the US is rather spotty about it.

Rain Man
01-28-2011, 11:53
Believe it or not, the CIA's web site and "World Fact Book" there have some great information on countries of the world.
CIA on Ecuador (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ec.html)

My middle daughter lived in Argentina for a year when she was 15-16, as an AFS foreign exchange student. My youngest lived in a small village in Panama for a year, also as an AFS high school exchange student. They both loved their experiences and have been back to visit their host families and friends. We have hosted from all over the world, including Argentina and Bolivia, so we have "family" there. Plus, we have been AFS volunteers who helped with kids from Ecuador and most South American countries.

And regarding bugs and hammocks? I think I'd soak that thing in some permethrin!

Have a great trip and please give us a report and photos. I envy you.



Two Tents
01-28-2011, 12:08
A girl going alone, that takes more balls than I got. Good luck ! Double bottom hammock for sure. A water filter plus waster treatment. A small machine gun if you could get one would be great. They don't play by the rules in the jungle-- Be Careful!

01-28-2011, 13:17
That lonely planet forum looks good; the South America FAQ is good http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=65954
I've been in the Peruvian Amazon, visiting an exGF who did field work there and listened to a lot of jungle stories.

For the jungle:

Insect borne diseases are the biggest danger:
carry long sleeve shirt and pants with embedded Permithrin such as http://www.railriders.com/women-oasis-shirt-with-insect-shield-p-974.html?cPath=125_133&osCsid=h0jlgsao05obokoiq3pum1ctl6
Use DEET on exposed skin when mosquitoes are active.
I don't know how available Permethrin and DEET are where she'll be traveling; ask at online forums. If they're not available, take lots of 100% DEET (30% is as effective, but harder to carry months worth).
Bring a very good mosquito net.

Bring water treatment; a Steripen that works on AA batteries might be good, but I'm not sure how it works with inferior batteries. Most filters won't take out viruses. Bring a chemical treatment as a backup. Only drink water that is treated or boiled (boiling is probably the safest treatment). Bottled water and drinks are probably safe, ice is often not safe.

Ideally, eat only cooked food that is freshly cooked and still hot. Ideally, don't eat street food. Of course, both of these are pretty difficult to arrange consistently.
She will get diarrhea. What I did was to use peptobismol tablet starting a day before the trip and then daily till I got back. Dehydration is the greatest danger from diarrhea. Carry some powdered hydration fluids (pedialyte). Doctors in South America are pretty experienced at treating diarrheal illnesses; if it's severe or lasts long get to a doctor. On the plus side, it's a great (?) way to lose weight.

Despite what I said about eating only hot food, if she comes across it, do eat aguaje ice cream. Iquitos Peru in the Amazon has the best ice cream in the world. Probably Ecuador has pretty good ice cream.

If she hasn't done it already, consulting with a tropical disease specialist to see if she really has all the right immunizations is a good idea.

Learn as much Spanish as she can before she goes. If she can find Ecuadoreans or Peruvians here to talk to they can probably give good advice. I really had fun with the local people despite the language barrier.

She can get a lot of what she needs down there, but I've been away too long to know what's easy to get.

She should really get to the Andes in Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia if she possibly can.

Carrying everything she needs for the jungle and the Andes or Patagonia is too much. I've done it and it is too much stuff to be fun carrying. You can probably still get good cheap locally knitted wool sweaters in the mountains in Peru and probably Ecuador.

It'll be a great trip.

01-30-2011, 01:35
If what she's really worried about is gear, than her backpack is really all she needs. (And good walking shoes for treks) The hostels have everything she needs to cook/prepare food and she doesn't need to buy an expensive filter (unless you want to be extra cautios, which isn't a bad thing). Bottled water is easy to get and cheap. In Bolivia, it's about 50 cents for a half liter bottle, $1 for a 2 liter bottle.

When she takes treks, from my experience, she will be with a guide who usually provides whatever is needed for the hike, like cooking stove, tent, water filters, etc. I wouldn't even worry about bringing a hammock because she'll be in hostels mostly.

The other guys have given great advice that I totally agree with! And snowleopard has it right on in the last post about going to the doctor. You can get severly dehydrated from diahrea, which can simple be from travelling and adjusting to new food, not any real sickness. But parasites are really common, and a doctor can give you the right medicine for whatever specific parasite you might have. You can also go to pharmacies and get "suero" over the counter. It's a saline powder you put into a liter of water and it helps to rehydrate you if you have bad diarrhea (like getting an IV, but you drink it instead). It's helped so much and doesn't taste so bad if you mix it with gatorade powder or cool-aid. Otherwise it's might salty :)

01-30-2011, 02:03
I would reccomend also a good compass...If you can and thats a personal thing a Copy of the TOPO map so you can follow along on her trekk..Thats just a personal thing as I say..

01-30-2011, 02:18

01-30-2011, 02:41
I made a little list that may help your sister inlaw.. When I went was for different reason and I thought this may help...Jlo lives there is more familiar presently.
1. hammock
2, Boots

3.Rain Gear
4. Sea to Summit bags 3 one for sleeping bag.
5.Sleeping bag
6..Mosq Netting
7.Water Bladder
8. water filter and aquamira drops
9.First aid kit
10. Compass
11. Knife
12. Poly shirts 2
13. Polar fleece jacket
14. Nylon hiking pants
15. Long sleeve poly shirt
16. hat for shade
17.Poly socks
18. Smarl wool socks
I am just giving you a genral idea of things and that might help her...I hope she has fun... Also have her check into the embassy when she gets there off the bat...

01-30-2011, 19:30
Thank you ALL for the great replies. I am going to pass all of this information on to my sister in law tomorrow. I thank you kindly.