Optional: Camping/Backpacking Tent: This not required for the 2023 field season, however if you'd like to bring a tent here is my recommendation: A self standing 2- or 3-person tent with a reliable rain fly. A tent with a vestibule and a good footprint is recommended. We suggest getting the smallest size tent that is comfortable.
Required: Rain gear: Waterproof jacket, rain pants, and a decent quality poncho. Dry bags are recommended to keep your belongings protected. Silica gel can help ensure your electronics stay as dry as possible.
Required: Rubber boots and insoles: You can find good quality rubber boots in Cusco (cheaper than North America) but size 10 and above are difficult to find. The soles of these boots are flat and hard; bring supportive or comfortable insoles if you have high arches or experience foot discomfort. I use both stiff supportive insoles and gel insoles.
Hiking boots: Work will be performed in rubber boots, but you might want a pair of hikers for your day off and around camp.
Required: Daypack: Sufficient size to carry water, lunch, snacks, head lamp, field notebook, and rain gear. I highly recommend a larger lumbar packs, such as those made by mountainsmith engineering or cabelas: have been used successfully over several field seasons.
Required: Head lamp: Absolutely essential. Back-up headlamps are also a good idea. If you are a fan of finding critters at night, bring a strong flashlight with plenty of replacement batteries or a charger and rechargeables.
Sleeping bag and thermarest: Something that will be comfortable to sleep in for many months. Nights at Pantiacolla can occasionally get chilly (down to 50 F).
Required: Socks and foot powder: Keeping feet dry and fungus free is critical for your well-being in the field. Anti-fungal creme is never a bad idea either. Wool socks are highly recommended. The merino wool liners from REI are thin and work the best in the tropics.
Medicine: If you require prescription medication, you should bring enough to last the entire season. Also, if you are severely allergic to Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants) you should bring your own EpiPen. Antibiotics and Metronidozol (for Giardia) are prescription based, so assistants must bring their own if they want to have them on hand.
Recipes for cooking: Assistants take turns cooking for the crew, so it is good to have some ideas for meals in your back pocket (and ways of being creative with field food).
Money: Assistants need money for personal things (e.g., shopping while in town, using internet, buying special food and snacks) and also for their one-week travel vacation during the season (fall assistants only). Usually volunteers bring between $400-700 in the field with them for personal items. ATMs in Cusco will accept North American bank cards. There is no reliable way to get money once we leave Cusco, so plan accordingly.
Deet or Insect Repellent: Biting insects transmit tropical disease such as leishmania and dengue. Site can be buggy, and an effective insect repellent will make life more comfortable. Sprays are preferred to gels and lotions. You might consider bringing a high concentration of deet (90%+) and mixing it with alcohol (available in Cusco) in a separate small spray bottle. If you choose to not use insect repellent for the sake of reducing your chemical use, remember that treatments for leishmania in the USA are intravenous liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) and oral miltefosine.
Small items that can make life easier -Cheap plastic coat hangers for drying clothes and saving space -small spray bottle for deet or sanitary alcohol use -locking waterproof tupper lunch container that wont leak in your bag -small waterproof tuppers for waterproof storage -zip ties -duct tape -a power strip if you have many things to recharge. the 'squid' type are recommended if you have odd shaped chargers. -field proof phone case (waterproof, shockproof) -steripen or personal water disinfectant of choice. We provide filtered water at the station but its nice to be independent in the field. -books -light wool blanket or sleeping bag for chilly nights (it gets very cold sometimes) -tevas or other light sandals with straps -ziploc bags -USB or storage to share photos and recording files with other assistants -hammock -spool or length of light chord for drying clothes, etc