Tips for Camping in Peru
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This is a guest post from Dan Clarke of Real Peru Holidays. If you’d like to submit a guest post for YourCampingExpert.com, then please check out our Write For Us post.
Peru is an increasingly popular destination for adventure travel, and the Andes mountains are a paradise for trekking, white-water rafting, mountain-biking and a host of other adventure activities. Whatever type of adventure floats your boat, you can always just opt for short day-trips and return to your nearby hotel at night but if you really want to get the most out of your trip to the land of the Incas, you’ll need to get a little further away from it all and count on doing at least some camping while in Peru.
Although Peru boasts a good number of intrepid citizens who head off into the mountains with their equipment strapped to their backs, most organized camping in Peru revolves around those trekking routes which are popular with tourists, such as the famous Inca Trail treks to Machu Picchu. Most of these are in the Cusco area, or further north in the Cordillera Blanca, and these are the only places in Peru where you’ll find anything approaching ‘proper’ organized campsites with at least some sort of toilets and washing facilities. Outside of these areas, you’re really on your own, so you’ll need to make sure you are properly equipped as – even when there are what you might call ‘customary’ campsites, in terms of facilities you might as well be wild-camping.
The Andes Mountains offer a beautiful, but harsh and unforgiving environment. The trekking and camping season runs from roughly April through to October, but even in the peak months of July and August conditions can be very challenging. During the day, the temperature gets up to around 28°Centigrade (around 80°F) but at night it plunges to below freezing and so you have to be prepared to carry a good amount of equipment to cope with these extremes. Full 4-season tents and sleeping bags are a must, and inflatable Thermarest-type mats are also highly recommended. You’ll also need some sort of trenching tools because of the aforementioned lack of facilities, as well as all the usual cooking and safety equipment. On the Inca Trail or Salkantay treks in the Cusco area, you can actually get a pretty decent cellular signal at points, but if you’re trekking further north in the Huaraz area, you’ll need a satellite phone to stay in contact with the rest of civilization. Top-quality camping gear can be hard to source in Peru, so you may need to face up to bringing all your equipment with you to be sure of having the correct level of quality.
If you don’t feel up to carrying everything yourself (and remember you can be days away from any roads) then the alternative is to pay somebody else to do it for you… On the Inca Trail, teams of traditional porters tend to carry the equipment for people, while elsewhere mules or donkeys can be hired, along with their drivers, to do the same. If you’re not accustomed to the altitude, even seasoned trekkers can find things very hard going, and so this should be seriously considered, particularly if it’s going to make the difference between having the full set of camping equipment or not. Much better to pay the extra and hire an extra porter than to get halfway through your trek and find that you left behind a now-vital piece of camping equipment to lighten your load.
The difficulties associated with camping in Peru shouldn’t be underestimated, but the rewards are some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world and so it’s all worth it in the end – you just need to make sure that you’re properly-equipped and are ready for the environmental challenges.
Dan Clarke works for Real Peru Holidays and is a veteran of several camping expeditions trekking in Peru. He can personally vouch for the importance of the correct equipment after trying to do a trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash in 2007 and nearly freezing to death in a thoroughly inadequate sleeping bag…
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