Looking to travel off the beaten path and enjoy the taste of adventure? For those of you feeling daunted at the vast array of options, we’ve put together some simple guides to give you a helping hand when it comes to organizing adventure travel in Ecuador, Galapagos or Peru.
Climbing Cotopaxi, rafting in the Amazon rainforest, paragliding in Baños, hiking the Inca trail, diving in the Galapagos or horseback riding in the Southern Andes. There are a vast array of adventures just waiting to be discovered. With recommendations and essential advice, our guides offer essential tips for planning your adventure of a lifetime and an overview of experiences available in Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru. Whatever your passion, there is something for you.
Get your documents in order
Wherever you’re planning to travel, you’ll need a passport. Whether this is your first time traveling or your passport has expired, getting a passport usually takes several weeks though the time scale depends on your nationality and location. Students, under-26s and teachers should consider getting specialized ID-cards for discounts.
If you’re planning to rent a car you’ll also need a valid driving license and sometimes an international driving license. You may also need vaccination certificates to prove you’ve been vaccines for certain illnesses for entry into certain countries.
Determine your travel budget
It’s always a good idea to sit down and determine your budget for traveling as soon as possible. This will help you decide which destinations are a possibility and when to go, as off-season travel is always more economic than traveling during high season.
A well though out budget will also serve as a guide when you start researching activities, accommodation and transportation. Deciding your travel budget early on will help you avoid the disappointment that comes from planning the perfect trip and finding out that you can’t afford it.
Pick and research your destination
Before setting off on an adventure, it’s important to do a little research. Travel guides, blogs, books, films and travel websites are a good place to start, but make sure you are reading reputable sources. Think of your budget and interests. Try to combine them with travel experiences available.
We always suggest that our clients chose a particular location or activity they feel they must visit or do when traveling to a particular country and plan around it. Take into account the weather, local festivals and public holidays and high season dates. When you’ve got a clear idea of what you’d like to do, contact us with any questions.
Create a rough itinerary
Unless you are lucky enough to be traveling without a schedule and are thinking of taking it easy and following your instincts, you should use your research to try to plan a day-by-day itinerary of your trip.
Think of the activities you want to do, the sites or locations you most want to visit, as well as the kind of transportation that fits your travel tastes, budget and timeline. Don’t try to pack too much into each day and leave room to be flexible as travel can be unpredictable. If you need any help or would like us to create a customized itinerary for you, contact us!
Book your flight
One of the most expensive parts of most trips is the airfare. You can book online yourself or get a travel agent to help you find the best deals and flight combinations. If you’re a big shopper take into account the number of suitcases permitted by different airlines to save money on possible overweight.
Book your accommodation
With your flight dates and itinerary in hand, you can start thinking of where you’ll be staying during your trip. If you do your research or speak to a local travel specialist you can find unique hotels or rentals that can mean the difference between a good and a fantastic holiday.
Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, lodges, rental apartments or even house swapping. There are endless options of places to stay. Most places offer good discounts if you book early. Make sure you check out their ratings on websites like TripAdvisor to avoid disappointment.
Book tours and activities
It’s a good idea to contact tour operators to find out more about activities of interest and book your place, especially if you’re on a tight schedule. Ask them the best dates and about any particular equipment you’ll need to bring with you or hire. Take into account that certain activities are only available during particular months of the year. Always ensure you are working with professional and certified guides. They will know how to take into account your abilities when calculating the right tours for you. If you need any help, contact us!
We always recommend travelers purchase a suitable travel insurance policy when traveling abroad. As always, do your research to find out if your chosen destination requires particular inclusions. When traveling to the Galapagos for example, you should ensure your policy includes evacuation by air ambulance.
It is very important to know your limitations. Certain activities and tours require professional training and levels of fitness, so you need to be honest with yourself about your level of fitness and make sure you have enough time to prepare. Make sure to speak to your tour operator or travel specialist about potential training and fitness requirements before booking a tour.
Imagine, for example, booking a cruise in the Galapagos without taking into account that you have a tendency for sea sickness, or a Cotopaxi climb when you’re not in shape. Not only do you risk losing your money if you need to cancel at the last minute or bail mid-tour, but you can ruin the enjoyment for the rest of the group, as well as putting them and yourself in danger.
Wherever you’re traveling, if you’re planning to head off the beaten path, make sure you get hold of up-to-date maps, guidebooks and information on current route conditions.
Health & Safety
Before travel find out about any vaccine requirements or health recommendations. Take into account the altitude, the need for insect repellents or sun screen, and that in some countries you should be more careful with the water and food. Find out if there are any areas to be avoided to ensure you enjoy a crime-free travel experience and consider purchasing a money belt or similar.
If you’re planning to climb or hike at altitude, make sure you leave enough room in your schedule to acclimatize. if you’re planning to reach any of the higher peaks, such as Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe or Tungurahua in Ecuador, you should also try ascending smaller mountains first to allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
Find out the official currency used at your destination, whether you should take a credit card or travelers cheques, and if there is ATM availability. Contact your bank and credit card company to ask about fees for using your credit or ATM card oversees and to let them know you’ll be using your card outside the country.
Find out the type of outlets used at your destination and take an adapter with you if necessary. In some cases you may need to include a transformer or converter if you are traveling to areas with different electricity supplies.
Phone & Internet
Contact your mobile phone provider to find our if you’ll be able to make calls overseas or if they offer an international plan or cell phone. If you use your phone a lot, you might want to consider unlocking your phone to buy a local sim card to decrease costs. Keep a note of the number of a local consulate or embassy in case of any emergency.
Whatever you’re planning to do during your travels, make sure you research your chosen activities and figure out the right time to go to avoid disappointment. You’ll need to take into account the weather, high season and local holidays or festivals. Local holidays and festivals can at times put a country to a complete standstill, or they can be the main attraction to visiting a particular destination. Another option is to speak to a fully qualified local expert or travel specialist to help you.
Not all countries follow conventional seasons, as is the case when traveling to Ecuador and the Galapagos for example, and the weather can make a big difference in your overall enjoyment of any adventure. Working out the right season to travel for enjoying particular adventures is not always easy. Rafting, for example, is available at different times of year on different rivers due to local seasons and water levels, and you’ll also need to take your level of ability to calculate the best rafting month and river for you. The same can be said for all kinds of adventure sports including climbing, hiking, diving and surfing, all of which depend on the weather, currents and water levels.
Your travel packing list will depend on your destination, the weather, local customs and the activities you’ve planned. Leave enough time to shop for anything you are missing or special equipment for your trip. Packing light ensures a more comfortable travel experience, so avoid bringing anything that isn’t necessary.
Take into account that certain adventures have strict luggage restrictions. We also recommend finding out the size and weight limits allowed by your airline to avoid any nasty surprises. Make sure your suitcase or backpack is working properly, that everything fits and that it is easy to transport. Finally, check for abnormal weather a couple of days before travel just in case.