Magazine article Geographical

Packing Your Bags for Peru

Magazine article Geographical

Packing Your Bags for Peru

Article excerpt

Paul Deegan picks up his backpack and heads for Peru, to explore the mountains and the well-trodden Inca trail

Backpacking for me means carrying a tent, stove and sleeping bag. Even if I set off on my own the chances are that I will link up with someone going my way so I prefer to carry a two-person tent. On my last trip, I went to the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash in northern Peru and the famous Inca Trail in the south. I used a Terra Nova Solar 2 tent which weighs just 2.5 kilograms. The only reliable multi-fuel stoves that I have found are made by MSR. Sometimes the only fuel available has either been mixed with water or is filthy. I filter the fuel myself with a piece of muslin and regularly clean the stove. When I am camping I have found that a sleeping bag rated to minus 5 [degrees] C with a full-length zip covers most climates.

Because of the vast distances involved when travelling in Peru, I use buses, collectivos (local minibus-taxi services) trains and planes to get about. I wrap my 70-litre rucksack in a locally-bought plastic sack before putting it on the roof of a bus. My bag then looks the same as the locals' baggage and is less likely to attract thieves.

I carry my passport, vaccination certificates, cash and VISA card (which is much more widely-accepted than Mastercard) in a neck wallet that I wear under my shirt. I keep a $100 bill in a plastic bag under the insole of one of my boots, and a copy of the ID page of my passport in the other. If my wallet were to go missing I would have something to fall back on.

My clothing has to be lightweight and versatile. The very lightest waterproof, breathable jackets are fine for backpacking. I carry a North Face and a Lowe Alpine thermal top, a Polartec 100 fleece pullover and an ancient down-filled pullover. There seems to be a huge drive by manufacturers towards synthetic trousers that look and feel like cotton but which dry much faster. However I have yet to find a 100 per cent artificial fabric that matches polycotton for comfort in really hot weather. I prefer my Scarpa SL leather boots to any of the new lightweight fabric models, but a change of footwear at the end of a long day is worth the weight; my Teva sandals can also be worn in the shower, on river crossings and at hot springs in the mountains. …

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