Real Food Adventure - Mexico Trip Notes

Real Food Adventure - Mexico

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2015 to 31 December 2015. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2016 - 31 December 2017

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2015
Real Food Adventure - Mexico
Trip code: QVZA
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
Get an authentic taste of Mexico on this luscious journey through some of the country’s most famous culinary regions. Meander through Oaxaca’s aromatic markets; take to the streets of Puebla and sample some of the city’s prized mole; indulge in fresh seafood on the beach along Mexico's beautiful south-west coast; and take to the streets of Mexico City on a taco crawl to experience a culinary heritage that goes back thousands of years. If you’re after cultural richness, authentic experiences and flavoursome food that’s tinged with fiesta, then this Real Food Adventure is for you.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency contact
ThemesImportant notesEmergency funds
MapGroup sizeVisas
ItineraryYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersWhat to take
We also recommendAccommodationHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionSafety
Culture shock rating MealsTravel insurance
Physical ratingTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point instructions
  • Our Original style trips have a great balance of included activities with your group and free time to explore independently. Where we stay ensures we keep our travellers firmly entrenched in a region’s people and culture, and provides them with unique local experiences that benefits the community too. In most locations we stay in simple tourist-class hotels (i.e. 2-3 stars), plus on many trips you'll also get to experience a night with a local family on a homestay or something a little different like a Bedouin camp in the Sahara. Original style trips come with all manner of transport modes and use a mixture of local and private transport. You might find yourself sailing in a dhow in Zanzibar, jumping on a rickshaw in Sri Lanka or sailing on a yacht through the Galapagos. No matter the mode, it's all about minimising our environmental impact and making getting around part of the adventure.
Real Food Adventure - Mexico
Days 1-2 Mexico City
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Mexico.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Modern meets ancient in Mexico City. This former Aztec capital is full of incredible sights, rich in culture and home to a famed food scene which is definitely worth discovering.
This evening your tour leader will take you on a "taco crawl" to enjoy tacos from around town, including Mexico City’s street food staple, tacos al pastor.
On the way, we’ll also stop in for a sip of mezcal at one of the many mezcal bars that have started popping up all around Mexico City.
Enjoy an orientation walking tour of the Mexico City's Centro Historico. Take in the beautiful Bellas Artes Palace, travel down the Paseo de la Reforma (the city's main thoroughfare) and marvel at the hugely impressive Zocalo (Latin's America's largest main square).
Along the way, visit Mercado San Juan, the city’s main food market, before roaming the surrounding streets, watching local vendors at work. If you come across tortillas being freshly pressed, be sure to try them warm with a sprinkle of salt. Pull up a chair at one of the best seafood stands in the city for a late lunch.
The rest of your day is free for your own exploration. Perhaps relax in Chapultepec Park or take in some of the city's notable museums, including the renowned Museo Nacional de Antropologia (anthropological museum), considered one of the finest in the world.
Alternatively head to the leafy district of Coyoacan - a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Mexico City. Enjoy the Sunday markets or check out the homes of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera or exiled politician, Leon Trotsky - all former residents of Coyoacan.
This evening you will again be able to explore more of Mexico City’s vibrant dining scene. Choose to make a reservation in one of the city’s top dining establishments or delve into another of the wonderful local restaurants to be found around town. There are no shortage of amazing options!
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Centro Historico food tour and lunch
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Bosque de Chapultepec & Natural History Museum - USD5
  • Mexico City - Coyoacan visit - Free
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - USD8
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals - Free
Hotel Metropol or similar (2 nts)
Day 3 Puebla
Breakfast at a Mexico City institution: a two story bakery full to the brim with more cakes, breads and biscuits than you can imagine!
Travel by local bus to Puebla (approx. 2 hours)
Although it's a rapidly growing city, Puebla has managed to combine modern development with its colonial past and there are plenty of well-maintained churches and colonial buildings to admire. Puebla is also a city obsessed with food and regarded by many as the gastronomic capital of Mexico. Its cuisine is a mixture of pre-hispanic fare and Spanish influenced dishes, including mole poblano and chiles en nogada. Bear in mind, chiles en nogada is seasonal and should only be eaten in restaurants between May and September.
Enjoy a culinary tour peppered with stunning architecture and historic sites in Mexico’s fourth largest city.
Try dishes like cemitas (like the Mexico City tortas – crusty sandwiches filled with goodies), large tostadas called chalupas and tacos arabes, which are tacos filled with meat cooked on a large spit and served with salsas and fresh lime.
Finish up at Calle de los Dulces, or “Sweets Street”, to sample camotes (yam-based candies flavoured with fruits) or Tortitas de Santa Clara, round shortbread type cookies topped with a sugary pumpkin-seed glaze.
For something equally traditional but perhaps less flavoursome, we will experience a "Lucha Libre" match. This sport - part wresting, part theatre - is next to religion in Puebla.
Included Activities
  • Puebla - City food tour
  • Puebla - Lucha Libre show
Puebla Plaza Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Days 4-6 Oaxaca
Spend your final morning in Puebla learning how to recreate some of the city’s most prized dishes in a hands-on cooking class. Enjoy your creations for lunch.
Catch a local bus to Oaxaca (approx 4 hours), known as ‘the land of seven moles'.
Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrated for its pre-Hispanic ruins, colonial architecture and, of course, its cuisine! The region has been inhabited by pre-Hispanic tribes for thousands of years and Oaxaca remains home to more than fourteen ethnic groups – including the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, whose influence is omnipresent in the state's culture, customs and cuisine.
Breakfast at a unique local restaurant, dedicated to preserving the many varieties of corn grown throughout Oaxaca state. Corn has been a staple of Mesamerican cuisine for over 7,000 years. At any one time the restaurant has at least three different types of corn dough made up from corn gathered from various farmers' cooperatives. The corn tortillas, eses, memelitas, quesadillas and tamales are the perfect start to the day.
Visit some of Oaxaca's renowned markets for an introduction to some distinct regional specialties – taste everything from cactus fruit to grasshoppers to the heavenly Oaxacan cheese, queso oaxaca.
Finish at the less crowded, but equally interesting Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Any carnivores will relish lunch at the pasillo de carnes asadas (grilled meats hall), where freshly purchased meat is barbecued before your eyes!
Your afternoon is free to explore the markets as well as Oaxaca’s many other culinary delights. If you are after a chocolate hit, there are several shops on Calle Mina (just south of Mercado 20 de Noviembre) where you can learn about the production of real Oaxacan chocolate - and taste this regional specialty for yourself.
Alternatively, you may wish to visit the impressive Monte Alban.
Monte Alban was inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of cultures (Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs) and it is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. The terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Alban were literally carved out of the mountain.
The following day, head out of Oaxaca and get an insight into regional life.
Visit Mercado Tlacolula, one of the oldest markets in Mesoamerica and a unique opportunity to witness the ancient Zapotec cultural traditions of dress, cuisine and language, as the community gathers together from neighbouring villages. Here we will indulge in a meal of Oaxacan barbacoa.
Explore the ancient ruins of Mitla. Mitla is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
On the way back to Oaxaca, stop into a mezcaleria (mezcal distillery). Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage, related to tequila, which is produced from the maguey plant. Although mezcal is experiencing a resurgence in popularity all over Mexico, it is largely produced in Oaxaca. Not for the faint-of-heart, mezcal has an enticing smoky flavor and is generally enjoyed straight up – salud!
In the evening, jump on an overnight bus (approx 9 hours) bound for the Pacific coast, land of delectable seafood and picturesque beaches.
Included Activities
  • Puebla - Cooking class
  • Oaxaca - Mercado Abasto tour
  • Oaxaca - Mercado Tlacolula visit
  • Oaxaca - Mezcaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins - USD10
Oaxaca Real Hotel or similar (2 nts), Overnight Bus (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Zipolite
Arrive in Zipolite in the early morning.
Considered one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on Mexico's Pacific coast, Zipolite is the perfect place to relax and unwind away from the tourist bustle of some of the larger beachside towns.
Pull up a chair at one of the restaurants, or laze in a hammock outside your bungalow on the water.
Perhaps pay a visit to the seafood market at the port in Puerto Angel.
Please note that while bathing suits are the norm on beaches throughout Mexico, clothing is considered optional in many places. While nude bathing in Zipolite is usually limited to a secluded cove away from the main beach, there is a possibility of being exposed to some nudity.
Head out on an early morning fishing expedition, then sail back to shore with your catch of the day. Back on land, a local fisherman will prepare your catch and treat you to the ultimate morning feast: fresh ceviche (raw fish cooked in citrus juice) on the beach. The rest of the day is free for you to unwind and explore.
* In the event that sea conditions are too rough to allow a safe and comfortable fishing expedition, this activity will be replaced with an alternative.
Toast the end of this incredible Real Food Adventure Mexico with dinner and glass of mezcal looking out to the Pacific ocean.
Included Activities
  • Zipolite - Fishing Expedition and Ceviche Breakfast
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 Mexico City
After breakfast, take a morning flight back to Mexico City.
The trip will conclude at 2pm on arrival at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City. For outbound flights, we recommend booking flights departing after 6pm to allow for any delays.
If you would like to stay longer, post-tour accommodation can be arranged. Please contact Intrepid Travel or your booking agent for further assistance.
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • QVZA - Single Supplement (QVZA)
  • Real Food Adventure - Mexico - Single Supplement (QVZA)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Real Food Adventure - Argentina (GGZA)
  • Real Food Adventure - Peru (GGZP)
  • Mexico City: Day of the Dead (QVAD-O)
  • Mexico City: Day of the Dead (QVAD-O)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A number of activities on this itinerary may have an alcohol component. Relevant local laws governing the legal age for consumption of alcohol apply to this trip. If you are below the local drinking legal age, you will not be able to participate in any trip activities involving alcohol. No refund will be offered for those activities.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).
With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.
It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Currency exchange rates often fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website:
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD2-USD4 per passenger per day.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Departure tax
Please allow USD25 for international departure tax from Mexico. This is sometimes included in your international airfare.
Important notes
Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
Severe food allergies must be advised at the time of booking so it can be assessed whether we can cater for the passenger for the included activities as food allergies could impact the extent of participation in these activities.
Please note that this tour ends on arrival at Mexico City Airport (MEX). Please do not book onward flight from MEX prior to 6pm.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel Metropol or similar (2 nts), Oaxaca Real Hotel or similar (2 nts), Hotel (2 nts), Puebla Plaza Hotel or similar (1 nt), Overnight Bus (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. Multishare includes triple and quad rooms or even dorm rooms.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience a vast array of dishes, beverages, dining experiences, ingredients and produce.
To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, the trip price does not include all meals. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility – whether you wish to partake in budget, mid-range or high-end dining options. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. Generally, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company, however there's no obligation to do this.
For travellers wanting to eat at a particular high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurant, there will be specified free nights in certain locations where you can make your own restaurant reservations. It is recommended you make reservations for high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurants well in advance of your departure, as there can be long lead times for booking in some instances.
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and choices may be limited to soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans will find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
8 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
USD 200.00
The group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary.
Please inform your booking agent of any dietary requirements you have before trip departure date. While we can't guarantee to cater to all dietary requirements, we'll endeavour to do so as far as possible.
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Bus, Overnight bus, Plane
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Hotel Metropol
Luis Moya No. 39 Centro Histórico Del
Mexico City
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer, please ensure that we have been advised of your correct arrival flight details by either you or your travel agent at least 2 weeks prior to departure. Please look for your driver in the arrivals area outside the customs hall. They will be holding a sign with your name on it and/or our company logo. If you cannot see them, please call our local operator for assistance:
24 Hour Emergency: +502 5778 4100 or +502 5778 4052
Finish point
Mexico City
Mexico City
Finish point instructions
This tour ends on arrival at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City (MEX). Please do not book onward flights prior to 6pm.
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative for Central America and Mexico, Viaventure, can be reached on +502 5778 4100 or +502 5778 4052
For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
Horse riding is an option available to groups on this trip. Please note however that horse riding is usually not covered by your travel insurance and helmets are not always available. If riding without a helmet is a concern then you should bring our own.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 309.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.