Answers to commonly asked questions

We know planning an adventure vacation is no small decision, so we’re here to make the process as easy as possible for you. We've been doing this for quite a while, so we’ve got the answers to everything you need to know! Just click on the specific question you'd like to have answered below, chat to us online, or call us on the number that suits you:

1 800 661 9073 [USA and Canada]
1 800 661 907 [Australia]
0808 234 7780 [UK]
0800 234 726 [New Zealand]
0064 3 450 0414 
[from anywhere else in the world]

We'd love to hear from you!

Can I go diving and snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands?

Wetsuits are provided for diving and snorkelling – SCUBA is recommended for experienced divers only because of strong swells and currents. Snorkelling is equally as good. The diving option includes two dives (add US$250). Diving is “subject to conditions” for visibility and we have a qualified dive master on the trip.

Can I use my frequent flyer miles to get there?

Many of our clients have managed to get the international portion of their airfare or an upgrade to business or first class by trading in miles. There are two rules for doing this:

1. Get in early! Like really early - some fares open up a year or more before travel, so if you feel an exciting adventure coming on, call your airline frequent flier programme NOW!!
2. Things change! If you've called your airline, and they've said there's no availability for your frequent flier miles, don't worry too much. Call them back the next day... and the next... and the next…

Can you help me find flights to Patagonia?

Arranging your flights to Patagonia is simple. We recommend getting in touch with our travel specialist, Amy Bohling. You can email her directly at amyb@nztravelbrokers.co.nz. She knows our trips well and can help simplify your booking needs.

The most direct international routes to Punta Arenas in Chile at the heart of Patagonia, are via national capitals Santiago and Buenos Aires, although some airlines will connect via Lima, Peru.

From Australia / New Zealand: LAN and Qantas fly from Sydney to Santiago Chile via Auckland, whereas Aerolineas Argentinas and Air New Zealand flies from Sydney to Buenos Aires Argentina via Auckland.
From Canada: Air Canada, American Airlines and Delta all have connections via Toronto.
From Europe / UK: LAN and Iberia offer direct flights to Santiago from Madrid, while Air France, Lufthansa, Varig and Aerolineas Argentinas offer direct flights to Buenos Aires from Paris, Madrid and Frankfurt. Those in the UK may need to connect via continental Europe or the USA.
From USA: Connections to Santiago and Buenos Aires are usually via Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas or Chicago.

There are three airlines available for getting between Santiago and Punta Arenas. Lan Chile (www.lan.com/chile) departs several times a day, and Sky Airline (www.skyairlinechile.com) offer a couple of flights a day. In Argentina, LADE (www.lade.com.ar) and Aerolineas Argentinas (www.aerolineas.com.ar) are also options, but be wary of tight connections on Aerolineas Argentinas as they have a reputation for flight delays. Also, if you're flying through Buenos Aires please note there are two airports in this city, and they are both at opposite sides of the city, so you may need to allow extra time for a transfer.

Do I need a visa to visit a South America destination?

If you're a citizen of USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and most Western European countries - you will be issued a 30- to 90-day tourist visa for all South American countries that we visit on our trips, on entry. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of your trip. 

Do I need hiking boots for the Inca Trail?

While the Inca Trail is reasonably well maintained, there are lots and lots of steps - all hand-made and not entirely even! - so I'd say it depends on how good your ankles are. If you have good ankles that will be able to cope pretty well with such terrain, then good hiking shoes should be fine, but if not then hiking boots will give you better support. We always recommend hiking boots as they are so much better for your feet, but it’s up to you.

Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?

You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not good enough. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, therefore your boots should have full ankle support and a stiff sole with a high profile tread. As far as your gear goes it's a great idea to get those boots broken in. For boot type, as long as they have full ankle support and a stiff sole with high profile tread they should be fine. I wouldn't be too worried about gore-tex liners, though if that's the ones you want then go for it!

Do I need to bring dress clothes to wear out to dinner whilst in South America?

No. South America is a very casual place and you will be comfortable and appropriately dressed going out to dinner wearing jeans or khakis.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

A little would be helpful, especially on arrival and for ordering food in restaurants, but it's certainly not required. Our trip leaders are all fluent Spanish speakers so if you don't have time to learn a little Spanish before arrival you don't have to worry... they will take care of everything.

Do I really need everything on the gear list?

Yes, you really do need everything on the required gear list! We can hire you a sleeping bag if you let us know in advance. The gear list is carefully thought out to provide you with everything you need to be warm and happy, or cool and relaxed, whatever the weather! If you don't bring everything you need, we can't guarantee your comfort. On the other hand, if you bring much MORE than you need, lugging around all that luggage can be uncomfortable too! That's why our gear list is so specific - if you follow it to the letter, you will be equipped just right.

Do you charge a forced single supplement if I'm a solo traveller?

We don’t believe in charging you extra for travelling alone and we have lots of single travellers on our trips. There’s no forced single supplement if you don’t mind sharing a room (you might even get a room to yourself sometimes). If you prefer not to share a room at all, you can upgrade to a single room.

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

As an Active Adventures New Zealand traveller, you're required to have full travel insurance cover - please be aware that some insurance companies requireinsurance to be purchased within 7 days of deposit payment. We recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes medical cover, emergency repatriation, trip cancellation and other travel mishaps (e.g. flight cancellations or delays, trip interruption, theft or loss of luggage and personal effects).

Travel insurance can be obtained through local travel agents, some credit card providers or online brokers such as www.worldnomads.com or www.travelguard.com. These and other insurance policy packages can be compared at www.insuremytrip.com. We recommend keeping all travel papers (invoices, receipts, police reports etc.) when you travel in case you need them later to support a claim.

How do I book my trip?

Whenever you’re ready, it’s easy to book your Active Adventure. When you’ve done your research, driven yourself crazy with the choices and made your final decision, follow these steps:

1. Hold your place

The fastest way to reserve your trip is to give the experts a call

Alternatively, fill out the Availability Request form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. To secure your place you’ll need a $500 per person deposit (the remainder of the balance is due 60 days before your trip start date), payable by credit card, cheque or wire transfer, whichever works best for you. Once you’re all signed up, you’ll receive a confirmation email giving you access via a login on our Active Adventures Club page where you can access your booking pages and fill in your trip details online.

2. Check your international flight options

Your booking pages and trip notes will outline where you need to be and when to start your trip, so you can move forward with booking your flights. If you’re lucky enough to have time, it’s nice to arrive a few days early to settle into the new place and get used to your surroundings. If you’re on a tight schedule it’s no worries, the trip start time will be outlined in your trip information.

We recommend using a variety of methods to search for suitable flights from your own research online (e.g. Skyscanner.net), to contacting a travel agent, to see who comes up with the best fares.

3. Complete your booking pages online

By logging into your online booking information via our club page you’ll gain access to your trip notes, destination information, a detailed gear list and all the information you need for your trip. There are a few things to fill in – medical and dietary information, extra accommodation requests, gear hire requests etc. – to ensure you are well prepared for your adventure vacation.

4. You're all set

You can now start packing your bags and crossing the dates off your calendar. We look forward to seeing you soon!

How do I get to South America?

Various airlines have regular services to South America from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. From the United States, you can fly with any of the following airlines - American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Lan Peru or Lan Chile. From the United Kingdom, you can fly with American Airlines, KLM, Continental or Iberia International. From Australia you can fly with Qantas or Air New Zealand.

Arranging your flights to South American is simple. We recommend getting in touch with our travel specialist, Amy Bohling. You can email her directly at amy (dot) bohling (at) nztravelbrokers (dot) co (dot) nz. She knows our trips well and can help simplify your booking needs. 

How fit do I need to be to hike the Inca or Lares Trail?

As long as you enjoy hiking, you'll love the Inca hikes - you'll be hiking about eight miles a day, but there's no rush, you can take it at your own pace. In fact, the slower the better I say, as that way you get plenty of time not only to enjoy your surroundings, but let your body acclimatise to the altitude as well. You'll be hiking through vast expanses of farmland with enormous cactuses springing up alongside the trail, passing Inca ruins that lie quietly on the hillsides surrounded by an air of mystery, through lush, cloudy jungle where hummingbirds flutter around your head and finally you’ll arrive at Machu Picchu lying before you in the shape of a Condor in the mountains. We recommend doing plenty of practice before you arrive, as the fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy your experience. That said our trips are designed for regular active people, so you don’t need to be a triathlete or anything - though if you are you won’t be bored!

How fit do I need to be?

In general, you must have a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy yourself on our trips. Having said that, our trips are designed for real people, not triathletes! You don't have to be young or extremely fit (although if you are, you won't be bored), though you should be in the habit of doing at least some regular exercise. Age and experience are not important - we would rather have an older person with a good attitude, than a 22-year-old couch potato!

How many people are there on each of our South America trips?

We generally take no more than 14 people on our trips, and we have an experienced trip leader, fluent in Spanish, there to look after you. We get a variety of both singles and couples, with ages ranging from 20s to 60s, and because of the nature of what we do down in South America, we find that our trips tend to attract all sorts of interesting people. In fact, many of our clients have said the social scene was one of the highlights of their trip!

How much spending money should I bring?

Our trips include all transportation, guiding, meals and activities (except where indicated on the itinerary). The only things you will definitely need cash for are drinks other than water (drinking water is fine to drink from the tap on all our trips), souvenirs and tips.

Generally speaking you'll need very little money on our trips, but we can't tell you exactly how much - it really depends on how many souvenirs you decide to buy!

I'm planning a honeymoon. Which would be the best trip for us?

Any of our trips would suit an adventurous honeymoon couple since all our trips are quite flexible and require very little planning on your part! We've done all the research and you can let us worry about the logistics - all you have to do is turn up and enjoy an awesome honeymoon. What a great way to start out married life! 

Is it OK if I’m travelling alone?

Absolutely! We welcome solo travellers onto our trips – in fact, we get many, many solo travellers and they always say how it’s a great way to travel alone, but not actually be alone, so that’s always good to hear. You’ll have an incredible adventure at the same time as meeting and sharing your experiences with a bunch of welcoming other travellers and your Trip Leader.

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.

Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: info-sa@activeadventures.com

Is tipping expected in South America?

Yes, tipping is expected in restaurants and so on, throughout South America and 10% is an acceptable rate, in either US dollars or local currency. Your guide will take care of tipping local guides, drivers, and waiters during your Active Adventures South America trip. You might want to tip a little extra if you feel someone gave really fantastic service, but it's not really necessary. Many of our people also choose to tip their Active Adventures South America trip leaders, W-trek and Inca trail guides, and Inca trail porters at the end of an awesome trip. We'd like to stress though that tipping is very much your call.

What about vaccinations and malaria in different parts of South America?

We recommend the following vaccinations for the following countries. Please note that vaccination recommendations change all the time, and they also depend on how long you're travelling for. The following list will give you an idea of which vaccinations you might need but for specific, up-to-date information please consult your doctor or travel clinic prior to travel to discuss which vaccinations are the best for you. Chicken Pox & Measles - if you've never caught it/been vaccinated for it before. Rabies & Malaria medication is not considered necessary in the areas that we travel, but may be required if you are doing further independent travel.

Chile and Argentina (Condor trip): Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Chicken Pox and Measles
Ecuador - mainland (Tapir trip): Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Chicken Pox, Measles and Yellow Fever
Ecuador - Galapagos Islands (Tortuga trip): Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Chicken Pox and Measles
Peru (Jaguar & Capybara trips): Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Chicken Pox, Measles and Yellow Fever

What are the accommodations like?

You'll love the places you'll stay, though our trips are not designed as a tour of the world's fanciest hotels! We also occasionally make changes to the night stops (i.e. accommodation) because the nature of the places we use is such that they are not always available.

The accommodation we use varies depending on the trip you take. For instance, the 'Jaguar' trip in Peru is an adventure-orientated trip - so you'll stay in a combination of comfortable hotels, family homes and tents. Our trips in the Galapagos Islands re land-based so you could wake up with a sea lion asleep outside your door - no being cooped up on a boat and elbowing your way into the crowd for that photograph!

And likewise in Europe it is common to stay in mountain rifugios or cabins, sometimes with private bathrooms, and always with warm hospitality and great views.

What are the reciprocity fees in Chile & Argentina?

Arrivals tax / reciprocity fees - Chile

The Chilean Government has a reciprocal agreement with the following countries:
For Australian passports US$117
For Mexican passports US$23
This must be paid in cash on arrival into Santiago airport, and the one-time fee is good for the life of a traveller's passport. You may pay this fee at the airport counter (to the left of Customs) via credit card or US$ cash. There is no fee charged if you are arriving into Chile by any other means, and holders of other passports are not charged anything, in accordance with their agreements.

Arrivals tax / reciprocity fees - Argentina

The Argentinean Government also has a reciprocal agreement with the following countries:
For Australian passports US$100 - valid for up to 1 year
For Canadian passports US$92 - valid for up to 10 years
All other passport holders are free as per the agreements between your countries.
This reciprocity fee must be arranged prior to arrival at any border, whether arriving via plane, bus or boat, and failure to comply will result in denial of entry into Argentina. We will be travelling by bus in the middle of our ‘Condor’ trip. This can be paid online prior to arrival for your trip, and is valid from the date that you get it. Note: Please arrange this close to departure time, so that there’s no risk of it expiring and having to arrange this again.

Please do the following:

 

1) Go to reciprocidad.provincianet.com.ar
2) Where it says LOG IN you'll need to sign up to this website, using an email address and a password. If you have to do this for multiple people, you'll need to use a separate email address for each person.
3) Complete the required information and pay the fee per person reciprocity fee online with a credit card.
4) Print the receipt, bring it with you, and keep it with your passport to show immigration authorities upon entry.
5) Do this for each person that requires it.

If you have dual citizenship and have more than one passport, please ensure that the passport that you use for your reciprocity fees is the same one that you enter into your Online Booking info files. We use this info to book your transport and if the details are different you may be refused entry into Argentina.
If you have travelled to Argentina previously, please call our office to discuss your options.

What books could I read to learn more about Peru, the Incas and archaeology?

We recommend researching as much as possible before you go so that you can have the best possible experience. Reading any Peruvian travel guide will give you a good insight into the history, culture and people of the place you are about to visit. There is plenty to read online too. If you would like to study more in depth then we recommend the following:

  • Lost City of the Incas, Hiram Bingham - A first-rate tale of adventure by the man who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. This classic account is a gripping story of exploration, archaeology and natural history -- and still an outstanding overview of the site itself. With original expedition photographs. Originally published in 1952, the book is still an excellent account, not only of the expedition but also of the site itself.
  • Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming - This classic masterful prize-winning history of the Inca struggle against the Spanish invasion brings together wide-ranging scholarly material in the interests of telling a good story.
  • History of the Inca Realm, Maria Rostworowski De Diez Canseco - This scholarly history boasts the most thorough treatment of the pre-Hispanic Incas available in English.
  • The Last Days of the Incas, Kim MacQuarrie - MacQuarrie tackles the personality, aspirations and greed of Francisco Pizarro in this vivid account of the conquest of a continent.
  • Art of the Andes, from Chavin to Inca, Rebecca Stone-Miller - This authoritative and concise illustrated survey of Andean art and architecture covers not only Machu Picchu and additional Inca monuments, but also Chan Chan, Nasca and other archaeological sites and cultures.
  • Fortifications of the Incas, H. W. Kaufmann, J.E. Kaufmann, Adam Hook - With color photographs and reconstructions, site diagrams and 17th-century engravings, this slim guide introduces building techniques and major Inca sites from Cusco and the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba.
  • Machu Picchu, Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas, Richard L. Burger, Lucy C. Salazar - Burger and Salazar, both archaeologists at Yale, vividly evoke the art, architecture, culture and society of Machu Picchu in this illustrated, up-to-date survey. With illustrations of 120 gold, silver, ceramic, bone and textile artifacts, Hiram Bingham's original report of the "Discovery of Machu Picchu," published in Harper's Monthly, dozens of archival photographs, and excellent chapters on recent archaeological investigations and insights into life at Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui's royal estate.
  • The Incas and their Ancestors: The Archaeology of Peru, Michael Moseley - An outstanding illustrated survey of the archaeology of the Inca, Moche and Nasca civilizations. With hundreds of color illustrations and line drawings, it's an in-depth look at the ancient cultures and history of Peru. A great general introduction.

What if I need a special diet?

We are accustomed to catering to the following special diets:

• vegan (no meat or animal products)
• vegetarian (no meat products)
• fishatarian (vegetarian, and eat fish)
• no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
• gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
• lactose intolerant (no dairy products)

You will get the opportunity to specify your particular requirements when you fill in our pre-trip questionnaire. If you have any other dietary requirements please let us know well in advance, via email or the online questionnaire.

What is El Niño?

Every three to seven years, for a period of anything from 6-18 months, the normal climatic pattern is dramatically disrupted. There is no 'sea of confusion' about temperature zones when El Niño swells into Galapagos waters. The sea becomes uniformly tropical, which for most creatures reliant on phytoplankton-rich oceans is a catastrophe of dire proportions. The cool Cromwell and Humboldt currents that nourish life vanish, replaced by warm, clear waters that are almost entirely devoid of phytoplankton. Starvation hits whole populations, often whole species, with astonishing mortalities. In the last 40 years there have been 5 big El Niño events in the Galapagos, the last one in 1997-8.

What is the difference between the Inca and Lares Trail?

There are two hikes to choose from on our Jaguar trip in Peru. There’s the Classic Inca Trail or the Lares Inca Trail, each with unique features and both absolutely incredible! The Classic Inca Trail is a four day hike, which finishes at Machu Picchu on the fourth morning. The last morning is a real highlight - you'll leave your camp at first light and hike for about an hour to the 'sun gate' (or 'inti punku' as it was called by the Incas) to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. It's absolutely spectacular and a fantastic way to wrap up the hike - the moment when you first get to see it can be quite overwhelming!

The other option is the Lares Inca Trail, an amazing Inca track which will provide you with an incredible cultural experience as you make your way to Machu Picchu - you'll pass through a number of native highland villages that have very little contact with the outside world, so it’s always a fantastic experience for everyone involved. You'll find far fewer people on this track than on the Classic Route and we quite often have it virtually to ourselves. There are no crowded campsites or queues of people heading up the path, and you can almost feel the presence of the Incas as you make your way along their mountain trails. If you’d like to discuss the options please get in touch.

"We had no idea that the Lares Trail wouldn't have many more people on it... We were completely thrilled that we had chosen this trail based on the information that we'd see more of the local way of life, etc. The amazing icing on the cake was that we were all by ourselves on that trail. That made our trip very, very special. The solitude might be worth mentioning in the literature. It would have helped me know for sure that this was the trail I wanted to take." Sandra Fields (Portales, New Mexico, United States)

What is the weather like in different parts of South America?

Ecuador - mainland

Here, the weather remains stable all year round, making it a great place to be at any time of year. The temperature in Ecuador doesn't actually vary that much throughout the year; it's just the humidity that changes. During the summer (October - March) the weather is quite warm and dry, whereas in winter (April - September) it's a little cooler and wetter - so it’s a good idea to pack a raincoat then. We generally recommend bringing lots of layers for this trip - from long, light layers for the jungle through to some thermal and fleece layers for the highlands.

Mainland Ecuador is only about the size of Colorado and has a variety of climates and it’s this unique geography that makes the weather patterns very localized. It can also change quite quickly.

In the eastern Sierras (mountains) the wet season is from June to August with average temperatures of around 20°C (68°F). Meanwhile, in the middle of the dry season, the western Sierras will be struck with strong winds, little rain and higher temperatures. This pattern is reversed for the rest of the year with the exception of December when fine weather is present in the drenched western Sierra.

The Amazon region has a rainy season from September to April and average temperatures of around 28°C (84°F). The Amazon basin is what you’d expect of a tropical rainforest… it’s wet! From May to August the average temperature increases to around 32°C (90°F) along with the frequency of the rainfall.

On the much drier coast, the dry season runs from June to December with a temperature drop to about 26°C (79°F). Then in January to June temperatures go up and despite the occasional rain, the days are bright and sunny.

Ecuador - Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands get generally pleasant weather all year round. January to March is the hot/wet season, with March considered to be the hottest month of year. The islands are flourishing with plant life at this time and the water temperatures are ideal for swimming, reaching 25°C (77°F) in February to April. The period from July to September is the drier/cooler season, where the water temperature drops to around 22°C (72°F). It’s an ideal time to see the marine life as they love these cooler currents.

Peru

The weather in Peru is good year round, so there’s lots of flexibility when it comes to a time to visit. Most people visit during the dry season that runs from May through September, when the days tend to be sunny and warm, so it’s a great time for trekking and touring. It can be cool in the evenings, so it’s a good idea to have some evening layers to snuggle up in. That said, the shoulder seasons in March and April, and in October to December, can be really good too – there are far fewer people around, and if you don’t mind the odd shower and a bit of mud on the trails you’ll get a completely different experience. It’s best to avoid February as the trails are closed for a month for their much needed rest and maintenance, before they reopen in March.

What is your cancellation policy?

We require a US$500 deposit per person per trip to secure your place on your chosen trip/s. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable to another departure date or trip. In the event that it becomes necessary for you to cancel the trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:

• Cancellation made over 60-days prior to departure date - US$500 deposit per trip
• Cancellation between 60 and 30-days of departure date - 50% of total trip fare on all trips apart from the 'Manuka' trip
• Cancellation of the 'Manuka' between 100 and 30-days of departure date - 50% of total trip fare
• Cancellation of any trip 30-days or less prior to departure date - 100% of trip fare

A cancellation will be effective from when Active Adventures receive written notification of the cancellation. This cancellation policy includes voluntary or involuntary early departure from a trip. No refunds will be given for missed or unused services such as accommodation, activities or meals. You are strongly advised to take out cancellation insurance that will cover cancellation fees at the time of booking.

What kind of clothing should I be packing?

In general the best way to pack is to have a layered clothing system - this way you're prepared no matter what the weather as it can change quite considerably throughout the day. Also bear in mind that it won't be practical to wash your clothes every day. Depending on your trip, it will be more like every three to five days. Once you've booked your trip, we'll send you a gear list on exactly what to bring along.

What luggage should I bring?

We recommend bringing one medium sized piece of luggage and one daypack per person. We also recommend that you wear your hiking boots while travelling, and pack all essential items in your carry-on luggage (including your passport, money, eye wear, change of clothing, and medications) in case your luggage is delayed along the way.

While you're trekking on the Inca trails in Peru or the W-trek in Patagonia we'll store any extra gear for you - you don't have to lug it with you! You may wish to bring a soft overnight bag to store this extra gear.

I need to bring extra luggage with me, where can I store it?

If you're on a trip where you start and end in the same location then you can store excess luggage in the hotels where your trips begin, or alternatively you can store luggage at the airport too. If you're not finishing in the same location then you may be able to leave it in the back of the luggage compartment of your vehicle, depending on the trip, so please check this with us.

What should I wear for hiking?

We recommend wearing clothes made from the quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. There are a wide variety of these types of clothes available at outdoor stores such as REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated). Brands such as Marmot, Patagonia and North Face are quite popular, although some "no-name" brands can be just as good and more economical. We recommend you don't wear jeans for any activities as they get very heavy & uncomfortable if they get wet, which you will at some stage during your trip. The same clothing can be worn for hiking, cycling and kayaking.

We recommend wearing hiking pants or shorts, and shirts or t-shirts made from these quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. In cooler weather we recommend using thermal underwear - these are worn under your pants & t-shirts for an extra layer of warmth. On top we recommend sweaters made from fleece or wool - again because they keep you warm even when you are wet. As an outer layer we recommend a medium weight waterproof jacket - a poncho is not suitable as it is too lightweight and a sailing jacket is generally too heavy for hiking in. Jackets made from gore-tex or Marmot's PreCip are highly recommended.

If you're packing for your multi day hike and you're after a few helpful tips, then check out the video below! Lynette breaks everything down for you, and makes it really easy.

What type of plugs and voltage do you use in South America?

Chile & Argentina

Operate on a 220V AC system and a plug with two round prongs side by side or Type L (3 round prongs), and the adapter plugs in Argentina are either Type C (2 round prongs) or Type I (2 diagonal prongs with a third vertical prong). Electricity is available in most places in Patagonia – even in the Refugio's on the W-trek.

Ecuador

Operates on a 110V AC system and uses the same type of plug as the USA (two vertical prongs side by side)

Peru

Operates on a 220V AC system and the same type of plug as the USA (two vertical prongs side by side)

Plug adapters are readily available from travel stores and airport shops, and you may need two - one for the plug shape and one for the voltage converter, or sometimes you can get an all-in-one plug for both reasons too. If your country doesn't use the same AC system (eg. USA = 110V AC) you may need some kind of converter, however many appliances have in-built ones these days (eg. iPods, iPads, laptops and camera chargers). If in doubt, ask at your nearest camera or electrical store before you leave home.

What vaccinations do I need for my trip to South America?

For all trips to South America we recommend getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. We also recommend getting vaccinated for Chicken Pox and Measles if you've never caught them before. For travel to mainland Ecuador Yellow Fever is an additional vaccination you should seek advice about - it can sometimes depend how long you're travelling for.
Remember, this list is an indication and recommendation only - for specific, up-to-date information please consult your local doctor or travel clinic. You’ll need to organise your inoculations around 2-3 months before your trip, as some vaccines require multiple visits/injections to obtain full coverage. Be sure to ask your doctor for proof of vaccinations (often a little yellow book) to always keep with your passport - as some countries require proof upon entry.

What will I eat in Peru?

The food in Peru is wonderful – you’ll eat a mixture of fish, meat, potatoes, vegetables and breads – all beautifully cooked and presented throughout your trip. You’ll eat at a mixture of restaurants, campsites (you’ll be amazed at what our porters can produce from the camp kitchen), lodges and at a local home on Amantani Island. We consider food to be an important part of not only every day life, but of the whole travel experience, so we’ll make sure you have the choice to play it as safe or be a bit more adventurous (Guinea pig anyone?) as you wish!

What's included on your South America trips?

Accommodation

On your South America trip you'll stay in a variety of places depending on the destination and activities. In Peru you'll stay in nice hotels, tents while you're hiking (complete with porters to put them up for you, cook your meals and generally make sure it's the best camping experience ever!), jungle lodges and local homes on Amantani Island (a truly once in a lifetime experience). In Ecuador mainland you'll stay in hotels and jungle lodges, and on the Galapagos Islands you'll stay on dry land, meaning you're free to walk around each evening and get to know the residents of these famous isles. Down in Patagonia you'll lay your head each night in hotels, lodges and the famous 'refugios' in the National Parks. While these may sound basic they actually have incredible facilities (including electricity), the views are out of this world, they have restaurants and you'll meet an incredible array of people that have travelled from far and wide to visit the bottom of the world.

Transport

Your transport will be a mixture of bus, plane, boat, bike and your very own two feet on our trips in South America. You'll spend most time on a boat in the Galapagos Islands as you make your way from island to island during the day, and down in Peru you'll travel by boat in the Amazon to get to your lodge. We have domestic flights included in our Galapagos Islands and Peru trips to shorten our travel times and to ensure you have the best experience possible. All your transport is included from the start of your trip and we'll drop you at the airport at the end. The details are all listed in the trip specific itineraries.

Meals

All your meals are included as described in the itinerary except on your free days. We have found that people enjoy checking out what is on offer by themselves sometimes, so you can go and see what's out there! On every other day and especially after any long hikes, we've chosen places to eat that can cater for our hearty appetites, work well with our small groups (they know we are coming) and provide us with an authentic destination specific culinary experience. There are always options for you, so you can either be brave or choose something more familiar. On the hiking portion of our trips (such as on the Inca Trail) we work with an outstanding team of cooks who will amaze you with what they can produce on a campsite miles from the nearest town. You can be assured that on all our trips we will make sure you are very well fed.

Trip leaders

Our trips are all led by an experienced Trip Leader. Our Trip Leaders are very proud to work with Active Adventures and often lead our trips for many years, for which we are very lucky and very grateful as it means we're able to consistently offer a fantastic level of service. They work closely with our local specialist guides to provide you with a seamless, fun, exciting and memorable trip. They will happily share with you as much or as little as you want to know about the history, culture, social aspects and lifestyle of the country you are visiting. In the Galapagos Islands you will be accompanied by a specialist Nature Guide, qualified to provide you with plenty of information about the species that make their home on the islands.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are a unique and remote set of islands located around 800 kilometres (500 miles) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The area was declared a Marine Reserve in 1986, as it is home to so many unique species. There are 7 major oceanic currents that assemble in the Galapagos marine ecosystem, making it a mecca for a mixture of wildlife - 17% of Galapagos fish species are endemic to the islands.

Where can I get local currency?

You can change currency on arrival at most airports in South America, or at a bank of 'Casa de Cambio' in your joining city. You may also be able to change currency at the airport you depart from. Money can also be changed, usually at an unfavourable rate, in most hotels. Your trip leader will advise you on the best places to change currency where ever we go. Usually the easiest thing to do is use your credit or debit card to withdraw money directly from your home account, in local currency.

There are plenty of ATM's and banks in larger towns in South America, and ATM's will accept all major credit cards and many debit cards. Cash advances are the most convenient way to get cash.

Local currencies are:

Peru - Jaguar and Capybara: Peruvian soles

Ecuador - Tapir and Tortuga: US dollars. Tortuga clients please note: It is difficult to change traveller's cheques in the Galapagos Islands, and the only credit cards accepted are Cirrus and Mastercard. You should withdraw cash from an ATM in mainland Ecuador before leaving for the Islands - your Active Adventures South America trip leader will make time for this, and there is an ATM at the Quito airport.

Patagonia - Condor: Chilean pesos & Argentinean pesos

 

Will I be able to call home from South America?

When we are in larger towns and cities, you will be able to call home from 'Locutorios' - phone call centres which offer international calls at cheap rates, from internet cafe's or from your hotel too (check their rates first). 

Your cell phone may or may not work in South America full stop - a lot of cell phone companies say they will though this is not always the case - and there's certainly very little coverage on our trip routes. If I were you, I'd put your phone in a suitcase, and not look at it for two weeks. You may like to bear in mind that a lot of our clients have come on one of our trips to escape phone calls and emails etc.

In Ecuador only cell phones on GSM 850 frequency or higher - quad-band will work though tri-band phones will not. Check with your phone company before leaving home about international access and costs.

Will I have access to the internet/WiFi?

WiFi is available almost everywhere in cities and easy enough to find in most towns/villages so you can rely on having access a few times a week during your trip. If you have data roaming switched on, then you'll be able to use the internet on your smartphone about 70% of the time during your trip, but beware of the fees! WiFi is available at some of the accommodations that you'll be staying at, usually for a small cost so check this out at each location when you arrive.

Will I need a porter on the Inca trail?

Our porters will carry up to 8kg (17 pounds) of your gear included in your trip fare. They will also carry your group gear, like your tents and food, and this is included in your total amount of your trip.

At the beginning of the Inca trail you'll pass through the official start gate where your tickets will be checked against your passports (your guide will take care of this for you) to allow you to access the trail. Going through a different gate, all the porters will weigh in with their luggage, which ensures that the agreed weights are adhered to.

Will the altitude affect me in South America?

On many of our South America trips we get to some higher altitudes (for instance, 14,200ft on Amantani Island).

Over the years we've found that if you take it easy on arrival in higher locations, you'll be just fine. Sure, we get straight into our activities at the start of our trips, so our itinerary takes altitude into account and there is plenty of leeway to relax during the first couple of days. Your trip leader and team of local guides will make sure you're doing fine.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    "Make it happen and you absolutely will not be disappointed"

    The Galapagos Islands turned out to be everything you hear about and more! My style of travel has never been geared towards tours or trips (EQ Type: Authentic Experiencer), however I signed up for the Tortuga trip last minute to join my parents and couldn't have been more pleased! Being a land-based tour vs. boat tour we were able to support the local economies on the various islands we visited while experiencing the authentic and incredible wildlife and landscapes the Galapagos has to offer. We got to enjoy a variety of local restaurants rather than eating the same buffet meal similar with other tours and stay in a range of different accommodations along the way. Our tour guide Pablo however, really made the trip and I am not sure if it would be quite as amazing without him. The passion, knowledge and love he has for the Galapagos Islands glimmered through every day we were with him and his smile shared with each new experience was priceless. The only disappointment of the trip was that it would have been good to know extra activities such as diving, are non-refundable if a illness or anything else comes up last minute as they often do and it may have affected our choice to opt out earlier. Saying this, I would very strongly recommend the Tortuga trip to everyone. If you every have the chance to visit the Galapagos Islands, make it happen and you absolutely will not be disappointed. Each day we were left amazed and utterly shocked at how much we were able to see and do with each activity. I have traveled to some pretty spectacular places around the world but this trip is a once in a lifetime experience. - Myla xo
    Myla Yeomans-Routledge Review Image
    – British Columbia, Canada
    Tortuga, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    BEST TRIP EVER!!!

    First of all, I want to say what a FANTASTIC "Jaguar" trip we had with Active Adventures in Peru. After talking with many other travellers we meet in Peru, Active Adventures were head and shoulders above other tour groups. They meet and exceeded my expectations. Thanks to the best guides "Eric" and our 4 day Inca hike Guide "Puma". They started as our guides and we finished as friends.
    Kathleen Bowser Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Jaguar 2017, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Amazing Trip

    The Peru Jaguar trip we took in May, was the most exciting and adventurous trip we have ever made in our lives! At 70, I was skeptical as to whether I could complete the Inca Trail or not. With Johan's help and support, I not only accomplished my goal, but was extremely satisfied with our total active adventure trip. It seemed as if every time I turned my head, there was another exhilarating scene to photograph. The rest of the trip included the amazon rainforest, and spending the night with a local family on Lake Titicaca which was great. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone wishing to explore the world's unknown places that only a few select get to experience. Our guide Erick Farfan was an exceptional young man who went out of his way not just for us, but the entire group. I've never had someone so attentive to every detail to make all of us happy. His choice of restaurants allowed all of us to experience the local foods and were all very tasty. Kudos to Erick, Johan and the rest of the crew for making my experience once in a lifetime which I will never stop talking about.
    Bob Rosson Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Jaguar 2017, June 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    Better than expected

    I had done one group tour before and lots of hiking with my local hiking club, but this tour was beyond what I was expecting. The people, the guide, the coordination and logistics - all were fantastic and well done. Of course, what truly made the trip was the amazing location and breathtaking adventure.
    Amy Linsky Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16240 reviews)

    See the best of Patagonia and eat like a king!

    Great itinerary to see Chilean and Argentine Patagonia! While many people come to hike Torres del Paine, which is awesome, I thought Mount Fit Roy and Cerro Torre were even more spectacular in Argentina! Wished we could have hiked to more places in Argentina. Also loved the food and the ability to choose your own meals! I ate like a king!
    Patrick Nguyen Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Condor, February 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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