Expedition Information

Ecuador kit list

The objective is to take the smallest amount of equipment needed to be comfortable and safe. You will need to carry your equipment and baggage on occasions and there are also maximum weight allowances which vary depending on the airline used. Always aim to buy equipment that is compact, light weight, durable, quick drying, versatile and in good repair. You may find that you have suitable gear already, so don’t feel you have to buy everything new. Shop around and price everything before purchasing anything. Some items you may be able to borrow from friends or relatives, pick up second hand, or get deals off the internet.

We have done some research and certain outlets will give you some excellent deals if you mention our name. In the UK our main contacts are: Nomad Travel (0207 833 4114), and Travel with Care (01980 626 361). Nomad offer discounts on both equipment and vaccinations at their clinics, for a voucher please email info@opwall.com. In North America Back Country Gear and US Outdoor Stores have a good selection of equipment.

Try out your kit in realistic circumstances if at all possible before your expedition, especially new rubber boots which can often take some getting used to, and can give you blisters if you are not comfortable with them. All baggage, clothes and kit should be clearly labelled to avoid confusion. There are many volunteers on the projects, and some may have the same or similar items to you. Valuables are very occasionally at risk. Please make sure you have insurance, record all serial numbers and keep all receipts. Remember to carry all personal documents and cash safely in a concealed money belt.

Don’t forget to order your Opwall t-shirt for this years expedition!

What to take

Forest Site

Wellington/Rubber Boots. Wellington or rubber boots are essential, as they will provide the best waterproof protection against the vegetation and fauna that you will encounter in Ecuador.

Sleeping Bag. It will be fairly warm at night in the forest so we recommend a 1-2 season sleeping bag and a sheet or sleeping bag liner than can be used separately on particularly warm nights.

Roll mat or Thermarest. Necessary for comfort when sleeping in a tent in the forest so please do bring one. Roll mats can be purchased very cheaply, whereas Thermarests are more of an investment (be sure to buy a repair kit).

Rucksack/Travelbag. It is important to have a well built and sturdy bag for carrying your clothes and belongings.

Day bag/Small rucksack. Needed for your field work for carrying water, paper, pens, binoculars, cameras etc.

Water bottle/platypus, etc. A combination of leak-proof plastic bottles (total capacity 3 litres) is imperative. There are many styles to choose from – it is not necessary to get anything fancy, though if you do want to invest in one of the ‘hydration systems’ on the market (Platypus, camelback, Ortileb) they do have the advantage of packing flat when not in use.

Strong Head Torch. Night time opportunistic walks require the stronger Petzl headlamps. Please note that the LED and ‘mini Petzl’ models are no good for spotlighting nocturnal wildlife such as snakes and amphibians, etc, but are excellent back-up torches. Don’t forget spare batteries!

Teva type/reef sandals or flip-flops. These are a necessity. After a long day’s hiking you will want to let your feet breathe. It is best to bring flip-flops made of a ‘wipe-clean’ material rather than fabric ones, as these dry out quickly and are easy to keep clean.

Waterproofs. Rainfall is unpredictable in this part of the world but the lowland site is particularly wet so a plastic poncho or lightweight rain jacket is invaluable. Expensive heavyweight Gore-Tex raincoats are not recommended – they are hot and may get snagged and torn.

Watch with alarm. It doesn’t have to be anything technical. A travel alarm clock will also do.

Waterproof plastic bags. A combination of sizes and styles are necessary to keep water out of your kit and clothes. A large gravel sack or heavy duty bin liner will act as a rucksack liner (bring spares), and Ziploc (freezer) bags are brilliant for keeping your camera and other bits of kit dry (bring plenty). There are some very heavy duty ‘dry bags’ on the market – the choice is yours.

Biodegradable soap/shampoo/washing liquid. To minimise impact on the environment we ask all volunteers to bring ‘green’ detergents. Please bring personal soap such as lifestyles or mountain suds and 1 bottle of Ecover (or similar) clothes washing liquid. Unfortunately, biodegradable soap is very hard to get hold of in parts of Ecuador.

Insect repellent.  There are mosquitoes and other biting insects that can carry disease vectors for malaria, dengue and other diseases present at the site.  In order to protect yourself you need to be covered up at all times and to apply mosquito repellents on any bare skin (eg face and hands). However, you are joining a conservation research project, which at this site involves handling or being in close proximity to amphibians.  Mosquito repellents containing deet can kill amphibians if you are handling them with hands covered in deet and since some of the species you will be encountering are Critically Endangered, we want to be sure that those participating in the surveys are not wearing deet.  There are other animal handling or close proximity projects where deet is also a major issue, so it makes sense to look for the most effective non deet repellent available for when you are involved in animal handling or close proximity projects (see https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods and http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa011699#t=article). Many of our staff use Mosi-guard which can be bought from Amazon.

Sunblock. An essential part of any tropical expedition kit – Factor 30 minimum, is recommended.

Talcum powder/Anti Fungal Powder. Due to the humid nature of the tropics, it is imperative to take extra special care of feet and crotch areas. Regular application of talcum powder can aid drying, and anti fungal powder can help prevent and combat athletes foot/other fungal infections.

Hat or bandana. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are two potential debilitators, especially in the first few days before you have fully acclimatised. The wearing of a hat or bandanna in conjunction with regular fluid intake can make all the difference.

Small towel/sarong. Don’t bring a big thick towel as it is heavy and won’t dry quickly enough . Excellent travelpac towels (eg Lifeventure) are available, but can be pricey—a tea towel will do the job. Sarongs work well too and can double up as sheets and skirts.

Light blanket. You should take a sleeping bag liner, old duvet cover or thin sleeping bag with you for the forest site.

Binoculars (8×42 recommended) Without binoculars your experience will be much reduced.  You will not be able to see the birds or primates nearly as well if you don;t take a pair of binoculars with you.

Latin American/Spanish phrase book or dictionary. This can be an invaluable addition to your kit list. The expeditions will be run in English but many staff are Spanish speaking so learning the basics will definitely add to your experience.

 

Clothing—essentials. Dark colours don’t show the dirt, but they do retain more heat than light colours, so we recommend light colours, but not white. Also, a combination of natural and synthetic fibres are advisable – whereas nylon has the advantage of drying quickly it can also cause you to sweat more thus causing chaffing and heat rash. Cotton on the other hand is kind to your skin, but can take a while to dry. Both have their strengths and weaknesses – seek advice when purchasing. Clothing should be loose for both comfort in the heat and also to act as an extra barrier against biting insects.

  • Lightweight long baggy trousers (4 pairs)
  • T-shirts (loose fitting – 7)
  • Fleece top (1)
  • Long sleeved, loose shirt (2)
  • Shorts (2 pairs)
  • Sweat band
  • Socks (7 pairs)
  • Knickers/underpants (7 pairs)
  • Bras (5)

 

Additional kit for marine site

All the equipment listed below is essential for diving projects. You will only be diving for one full day so unless you own your own equipment it is suggested you hire the required equipment. There will be snorkel practicals on two additional days so you will need a mask, snorkel and fins which are also available to hire (see money page).

Wetsuit. The water in the Galapagos can be cold (around 20 degrees). You’ll need to bring out with you a wetsuit for the snorkelling part of the expedition – we highly recommend a 5mm long wetsuit.

Mask and Snorkel. Ample supply available for hire, but you may want to purchase your own to ensure a good fit.

Fins and Booties. Fins come in two varieties, full foot fins (booties not necessary), and fins with straps that require neoprene booties. It is completely down to personal preference. Fins are available for for hire on site.

Weight belt. These are supplied – please DO NOT bring your own weights.

Octopus/regulator and console. This is your breathing apparatus, only worth buying if you plan to do a lot of diving in the future. We do, however, hire these out.

BCD. BCDs (buoyancy control devices) are inflatable vests that can be inflated/deflated to alter your buoyancy under water. Available for hire.

Spares. If you have your own kit, we would recommend spares such as mask and fin straps and snorkel keepers.

Swimsuit.

Sunglasses. A good pair are important to protect your eyes from the glare reflected from the water.

Teva type sandals or flipflops.

Hat or bandana. An important barrier against heat stroke.

Clothes. You may wish to consider bringing along a few additional clothing items for the marine site such as shorts, vest tops or t-shirts or sun dress.

Lightweight waterproof jacket. Unfortunately, it’s not always sunny, and a lightweight windcheater/waterproof jacket is invaluable for keeping you warm on boats.

Notebooks and pencils. A requirement for all projects – if you want to splash out, waterproof books are definitely an advantage.

Dive knife. This is a recommended but not essential item.

PADI Forms
These need completing on line via your portal (https://portal.opwall.com) as soon as possible and no later than 28 February 2018. Just login in and click the “Your PADI documents for this booking” link. Regardless of whether you are snorkelling, diving, are already qualified, have a planned course in the future, are qualified under a different (non-PADI) body, all participants have to complete the information. Please be completely honest in your answers to medical conditions.

It is very important you do this as soon as possible.  Depending on the answers to the medical statememt, you may have to see either a doctor or a dive medic.  This can take time, sometimes a couple of months if tests are required, and we are not allowed to let you in the water if it’s not done.

The form itself has to be completed by yourself and then accepted by a parent/guardian. If you’ve not set up a parent/guardian account you will have to do that first.

 

Medical Kit

Although every expedition will have its own medical supplies, and medical teams on site, you MUST carry your own personal medical kit. This way you will be as self sufficient as possible, and able to treat minor scrapes and injuries yourself. The following are essential items:

  • Sun cream (SPF 30+)
  • Insect Repellent (those containing 40% DEET will be most effective)
  • Antihistamine tablets (Piriton/Piriteze) and antihistamine cream
  • Hydrocortisone/bite relief cream
  • Rehydration salts (Dioralyte/Electrolade)
  • Imodium and Senokot (for opposite problems)
  • Paracetomol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Alcohol swabs/antiseptic wipes
  • Elastoplast – waterproof and fabric x 4, medium size (if allergic, use micropore)
  • Iodine liquid
  • Cotton wool or gauze
  • Blister plasters
  • Crepe Bandage and safety pins
  • Sanitary towels/tampons
  • Canestan pessaries (treatment of vaginal thrush if you are prone to this)
  • Sea sickness tablets

Important
If you need to take prescribed medicines whilst on expedition, please bring sufficient supplies to cover your stay. For example if you are asthmatic you MUST bring you own inhalers, or if you have a history or recognized risk of going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergy, you must supply your own Epipen.

Always waterproof and clearly label drugs (with generic, rather than trade names). Occasionally there are restrictions on travelling with certain medicines. If you think this may be relevant to you, please contact your Home Office Drugs Branch (in the UK: 0207 273 3806).