What to Bring!
We have some suggestions for things you might want to bring when visiting the Amazonia of Ecuador. (At the bottom, also find a little bit about planning your trip to Ecuador.)
Mosquito repellent, sunblock, a hat with a brim, and a rain jacket and/or a fold-up umbrella are must haves. We suggest 40% DEET for the mosquito repellent because it seems to be enough without overdoing it. (Although, you may get away with not using mosquito repellent when you are wearing long lightweight pants, socks and shoes or boots.) Note that many people are surprised that there aren't more mosquitos. Wisconsin has more! Also note that malaria is not an issue in most of Ecuador and the CDC does not recommend taking malarial medication for the Napo providence where our tours are located.
Footwear: You will probably want strap-on sandals if you will be out in wet or muddy areas because sneakers get wet and stay wet, like on our Waterfall Hike. Strap-on sandals, like Tevas or Chacos, are good for rafting or kayaking or hiking. If you are hiking on a trail that is not well maintained, i.e. there is growth over the trail, you will need calf-length rubber boots. (Most likely you will be on a tour in this situation and whoever gives the tour should be providing them, at least regular adult sizes. If you will need rubber boots and have size 11 (Euro 42) or greater, you should bring your own. Kid sizes can be easily purchased in Tena for around $10.) The lodge provides regular adult sizes on our Overnight Jungle Tour, and we have some kid sizes.) You will probably want comfy walking shoes for our Day Jungle Tour and for the second day of our Overnight Jungle Tour. Rubber boots will be provided for the only two activities you need them for on our tours, the day jungle hike and the night jungle walk, which are part of our Overnight Jungle Tour and 8-Day Amazon Tour.
If you plan on going rafting or kayaking, ideally bring one of those long-sleeved synthetic shirts (for example: mens / womens) to keep you warm on a rainy day and keep you from getting sunburned on a sunny day. If you are worried about getting cold, a simple rainjacket over a synthetic shirt goes a long way. You can also find completely waterproof jackets that close at the neck, wrists and waist, that are made for this. You may bring your camera and store it in a dry bag until you want to use it. You will also need water, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Strap-on sandals are a good idea in the event you go for an unexpected swim! (If you go with us, you probably won't, but we can't guarantee it.)
You will want lightweight long pants and possibly a lightweight long-sleeved shirt for hiking/walking around in jungle areas. The long pants are about the only way to totally avoid getting bitten by insects on the ground and by mosquitoes.
A flashlight will probably also come in handy, the electricity goes out often and you'll want it for the night jungle walk if you go on our Overnight Jungle Tour. You will really want a headlamp if you go caving.
You will probably fly into Quito, which can be cold, think Phoenix in the winter, especially at night. And there is no such thing as indoor heating, so you will want at least one set of warm clothes. (Michelle sleeps in long underwear at high elevations in Ecuador.)
They do sell Tylenol and ibuprofen and over the counter mixed sort of cold medicines, but they are on the pricey side and they don't sell Benadryl, straight Sudafed, or a number of other things like that. It's likely a little limited compared to where you are from. So if there are some kinds of over the counter pills you like to take when you get sick, bring them just in case. Be sure to bring them in their original, preferably still sealed or blister packed, containers. If you have prescription meds, bring them in their prescription bottles, assuring the labels are readable.
Speaking of medication, Tena is located in the province of Napo. Malaria is not an issue here. It is our opinion that taking Malaria pills when visiting this area is unnecessary. The CDC has finally recently updated this information, but many clinics do not have that new information yet. See chart on the CDC website for details. From this chart you can see that the only provinces where Malaria prevention medication is suggested are the provinces of Carchi, Esmeraldas, Morona Santiago, Orellana, and Pastaza Provinces. Our tours are located in the Napo Province.bThey specifically say is it not needed in Guayaquil, Quito, or the Galapagos Islands. Follow this link to see other CDC recommended vaccinations when traveling to Ecuador.
Bring a roll of TP and hand sanitizer in a zip lock bag for bathrooms that don't have TP or in some cases, water. You'll also want to carry around dimes and nickels for bathrooms that charge 10 to 15 cents to enter. In this case they will give you TP at the door.
We also suggest having a small backpack that you can wear to your front for when you are in congested areas or for putting your valuable things into for carrying on your lap (never under, next to, or above your seat) when traveling by bus. By the by, we think it is best to put your large bags in the storage under the bus). A neck pouch is good idea for your passport, any credit or ATM cards, and excess cash. You can also put a wallet in a front pocket rather than back pocket of your pants. ATMs are a great way to get cash, just be sure to advise your bank you will be making withdrawals in Ecuador ahead of time. Sometimes cards from smaller local banks won't work, you need bigger ones like Visa or Mastercard.
Finally, and I probably don't need to say it, but it would be a real shame if you forgot your camera! :-)
There are no dumb questions at La CasaBlanca, so please, if you have any questions or need help with anything, just shoot us an email. We are here to smooth the way and it is our goal to make your time in our little corner of the world as safe and fun as possible!
Sincerely, Michelle and Gary
PS When planning your trip, we recommend using a mix of resources. We actually have a lot of information at our fingertips, feel free to ask us for help. But also…
Guidebooks are useful for traveling in Ecuador. While we feel like guidebooks are really helpful, they are books, and things around Ecuador change a lot. Also, their staff can’t possibly check out everything. That said, The Lonely Planet is pretty good. Additionally, do searches online, specifically: read blogs and check out reviews (with a grain of salt, of course) for “Things to do” and also places to eat and stay. Be sure to look under all 3 of TripAdvisor's accommodation categories, not just hotels. Good hotels can give great suggestions on places to eat in their area. If you will be driving, you will want a good map. They can be tough to find, this is the map we have and it is good (and inexpensive). We also like the Maps.me phone app. for travel in Ecuador. Let me know if you will be driving and I'll give you some tips (like don't go near Guayaquil, plan on using public transportation in Quito, etc.).