South America – The plan and the packing

I’ve always wanted to go to South America and it was in the plans for 2011. So much happened then that it just didn’t come off. But now I have the opportunity. Other like minded, solo adults, looking to more or less travel together, have decided to just do it. It’s only 3 short weeks but the planning has been underway. My flights, accommodation and tours are mostly booked.

It goes like this … Leave Perth on Thursday 2nd July 2015. This is the first day of my 3 and a half months leave. There’s no point in wasting even a day of it. I’ll be in Sydney for 4 nights, dropping the boy wonder off catching up with the besty, seeing family and then heading to the airport on Sunday night.

We fly out of Sydney on Monday 6th July at 09.00 on LAN, via Auckland to Santiago. These two legs are in business class. Now isn’t that something? Wow! The idea is to get some rest because we are go, go, go for 3 weeks. Landing in Santiago we connect to Lima and then to Cusco arriving on the Monday 6th July (thanks to the international dateline).

And then the real adventure starts. Machu Picchu Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Cusco Friday and Saturday for a look around. We head to Puno on Sunday on a bus, for Monday and Tuesday. The plan is Lake Titicaca, reed islands and a look around. We leave Puno on Wednesday to move onto la Paz and Rurrenabaque to swim with pink Dolphins, wrestle anacondas and paddle the Amazon over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We return on Sunday to la Paz for cholita wrestling in the evening. Monday is a rest and explore day in la Paz then we are headed down the worlds most dangerous road on mountain bikes. If we survive, we fly out of la Paz on Wednesday morning to Cusco for a night in a more luxurious hotel before heading home on Thursday via Lima, Santiago and Auckland.

I’ve been using tripit to log the trip, the bookings and the itinerary. This has proven to be a good app. Most things have imported straight over, some have needed to be manually entered. I’ve almost finalised my packing list, although I think of new things each day. I’ve got my new camera, my wheeled backpack, some warm clothes to deal with the very cold weather at altitude and put my boots in for repair. I’ve also had my yellow fever vaccination and the ‘flu shot. I’m booked for hep A and tetanus in a couple of weeks. No getting sick before or during the trip for me.

The extent of planning has been huge. I suppose the easy way is to pay for a travel agent to do it for you. But the costing they gave us was thousands of dollars. Not including flights. So, everything in South America has been booked by us. It requires a bucket load to work out what is legit and what is a scam. For instance tickets to Machu Picchu. Hopefully ours are the real deal, given that we booked them through the government site. The last planning left to do, is the travel from Puno to la Paz. The complication of leaving Puno in the morning and having a flight booked at 17.30 in la Paz is making it hard to organise. There are ideas and it will all come off … If need be, by leaving Puno a day early.

What am I looking forward to? Everything. Business class flights, pink dolphins, Machu Picchu, reed islands, cholita wrestling, death road. Being in South America.

The packing list … so far
Travel pack
Day pack
Handy bag
2 pairs of jeans/trousers
1 exercise t shirt
1 pair of exercise pants
1 pair of long leggings
1 shorts
1 cargos
1 summer dress
1 night time outfit (dress)
1 fleece or wool jacket
1 hoodie
1 cardigan 
1 long sleeve cotton button down the front shirt
2 long-sleeved tops
2 short-sleeved t-shirts
2 tank tops
1 rain jacket
1 pair of pajamas
1 pair of swimmers
1 pashmina
1 sarong
2 bras
7 pairs of underwear
6 pairs of socks + 1 thick pair for night-time
thermals / Skins
running shoes
hiking boots
ballet flats
Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
Shampoo and conditioner
Brush and hair ties
Costume jewelry
face washer
hand sanitiser
medication – A/Bs and imodium, travel calm, paracetamol, ibuprofen, kenacomb
first aid – bandaids, bandage, tweezers, nail scissors,
riding gloves
riding sunglasses
aeroguard (? Buy in Sth Am)
camera and charger and SD cards
Australian trinkets
running belt
TED stockings
travel diary
torch (bike headlight)
sleeping bag and liner
travel wallet
cable ties
zip lock bags
power adapters
copy of documents
ipod and headphones and charger (download audio tours before I go!)
Padlock and bag locks
sleeping mask and ear plugs
net book and charger
pass-the-pigs, deck of cards, 5 dice
travel pillow
So, we are down under 50 days until we leave. In fact we are almost under 40! All my immunisations are done. I’m down to the final “must do” list. Must do … printing of documents … tax return, so its here to sign before going on our road trip … get the camper ready and the car serviced … register with DFAT … fix the music on my iPod … download an audio tour or two … pack … wahoo! J

The trip is all but here! Its two weeks today until my last working day before my leave starts. There’s a mountain of things to do to get out of here, not least of which is the childrens’ birthday this weekend. The Drummer turns 18 and The Piper turns 12 on Sunday. So all efforts are going there at the moment. Then its last minute shopping, last minute work stuff, last minute stuff for the other trip and we are gone!

Friday 26th June 2015. I dont have to work another Friday until October! This time next week The Piper and I will be in Sydney and it will be just a few short days until I board the plane for Peru. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am (but then I live in a heightened state of excitement so there’s nothing new there).

Apparently you might be interested in how I’ve packed for this trip. You can see my list elsewhere on this page. I’ve packed almost all of it already. It’s been a big exercise in how to be warm, look relatively feminine, look clean (even when I might not be), have variety and manage my stuff. So here’s my thoughts:
1. Black. T-shirts, cargos, jeans, a cardigan, my jacket, my ballet flats and my accessories. If it gets dirty no one will know.
2. New but cheap. I bought two new cardigans in Kmart today, $9 each, as another layer. One is black. I have new tee’s (also very cheap), two new fleece (they were on sale), a new jacket (too big for me but I can layer under it), new luggage that will pay for itself a thousand times over (the new colours are out).
3. Mix and match. Jeans with a tee or with a blouse. Day time trekking and night time dinner covered.
4. Colour. A pink and a blue fleece, a purple pashmina, a colourful scarf. No white though. White and I don’t go together.
5. Zip lock bags. Now this is a trial. I don’t profess to know if this will work yet. But, I’ve put like things together and bagged them. If you sit on the bag as you finalise the zipping it acts like a vacuum seal and stuff is compressed. The plan is that’s it’s easier to find things, packing is easier, if my bag gets wet my gear won’t and I can stay organised. Fingers crossed … I’ll let you know how it goes.
6. Write a list, pack early and try unpacking and packing again. Think about what you can’t live without and pack it in your carry on. If my bag goes awol I’ll still be able to brush my teeth.
7. Think about what I need and have. I need a torch. I have a bike light. It charges on USB and is bright as all get out.
8. Minimise weight. Shoes weigh heaps so I’ve gone with three pairs plus thongs. Ballet flats will cover every occasion ($4 in Kmart). There’s my boots (mentioned elsewhere on this page) and my running shoes.
9. I’ve gone cheap for a reason. If I buy up big in South America I’ll be ditching the cheap stuff, nothing lost, to make room for my new stuff.
Did I mention its 8 sleeps til I leave Australia …

Today, with one week to go to Macchu Picchu, the colorectal nurses I work with (yes, you read that correctly) asked me if I had my Travel Bug ready. Now, I’ve had the travel bug since about 2010 but I figured they werent talking about my enthusiasm. Seems there is a product that assists with limiting gastrointestinal consequences. Apparently there are two options, Travel Bug and Travel Lan (sp). Each capsules contains 5 billion Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) organisms. Who knew!! So im off to get some. There is absolutely no way I’d ignore the advice of two of the most experienced Clinical Nurse Consultants I know. Thanks girls, this could be the difference between a happy gut and a not so happy gut.

Now you need to get up to speed on your Spanish and you’re ready to come with me …

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