Elizabeth Gallardo <>

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(1) Items to buy

- swimming/diving suit for cold water snorkeling

- suntan lotions, a lot

- Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets - <1>

These do what they're supposed to do. Before I give a review, I'll quote the box on a few points.
1. For use only when drinking water is suspected or known to be bacteriologically substandard. Not to be used on a continuous basis. (Their website suggests a six-week limit.)
2. Unopened bottles should remain effective for four years. (Look at the bottom of this review for how to date your tablets.)
3. We recommend that you do not keep an opened bottle for more than one year.
4. 2 tablets make one quart of bacteriologically water suitable to drink.
5. Proven effective against Giarda Lamblia when used as directed.
6. Has not been shown to inactivate Cryptosporidium cysts.

In a nutshell, use according to the directions and you'll be just fine. The bottle contains 50 tablets; you use two per quart of water. In really murky water, I use three. The active ingredient is Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide 16.7% and each tablet contains 6.68% of Titratable Iodine. This is the same stuff that I used in the military, but just to be sure, I opened a bottle and got three quarts of water from the Ohio River. Murky stuff. The first quart was treated with just the Potable Aqua (2-1/2 tablets). The second quart was boiled for ten minutes. The third quart was boiled for ten minutes, then given two tablets of Potable Aqua. All water was filtered through an untreated handkerchief first to remove debris and sediment. I'll note that my measurements were three quarts before boiling, so I'm sure some of the water was lost in the last two quarts due to the boiling process. The results?

While none of the water was as good as tap water, I'm still alive. The first batch (just Potable Aqua) was okay. I remember Potable Aqua having a bad taste; so bad that they included a separate bottle of pills to add that made the taste more bearable. That other bottle is unnecessary here. The water definitely had a chemical taste, but I could drink the minimum of a gallon a day if I needed to.
The second batch (just boiling, no pills) tasted better, but smelled bad. I would be hesitant to drink any more than necessary.
The third batch (boiled, then treated with Potable Aqua) was obviously the best. Considering that boiling only took ten minutes and a metal water bottle, this is the best option. Remember that all of the water was filtered through a handkerchief first to get rid of any sediment, debris, bugs, etc.
I'll guess that if you filter the water, then boil, then use the tablets, you can use only one tablet. I'm not a doctor, dietician, or representative of the company, but I do have extensive training in SERE operations and I've been using these tablets for over fifteen years.

How can you find out when your pills were made? Each bottle has a series of numbers imprinted. For example: 403127. The first number is the month; in this case, the fourth month is April. The second and third numbers are the last two of the year; in this case, 2003. These pills were made in April of 2003. The last three numbers (127) indicate that this was the 127th batch made in that time frame. The code can be five or six numbers long; the first three numbers always denote the month and year; the last two or three always denote the batch number. src

(2) Things to bring - ping pong paddles and balls, cash, LAN RJ-11 cable, hand sanitizer,  first-aid kit, unlocked smart phone, electric adaptor for 2 prongs, surge protector, torch / flashlight (In Costa Rica we forgot it) or LED on camera, warm chemical bags used with wetsuit? seasick medication, snorkeling gear, extra pair of shoes, quick-dry shirts, Ziploc bags to protect equipment.

Mindo Cloud Forest Day Tours

review 1 - Reviewed April 11, 2014; Visited March 2014

We scheduled a bird watching trip with Richard Hernandez for a lay over day after a cruise to the Galapagos. Our trip to Ecuador would not have been as wonderful if we had not taken the trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest. Richard emailed and asked if we wanted to see the "Cock of the Rock" and if we did we would have to get up and be ready to go at 4:00AM from our hotel in Quito. The group of 4 said we would be ready. Richard was on time and off we went on the adventure of a life time. We though nothing could top our cruise. Although getting to the ranch where the birds are was not for the faint of heart (rains had washed out the bridge and we fordged the stream) and then hiked for about a half hour into the jungle, only to find out the a group of world travelers from Europe had already made it before us. I might add this was in complete darkness, so bring a flashlight. At the lookout we were rewarded with a view of the birds putting on a show at dawn and on the hike back added another 10-15 birds to our life lists. For breakfast we went to a lodge where we added 18 different hummingbirds and many other birds that came right up to the table. The birds were amazing. It was like being in a movie for public television. We visited the Butterfly Garden which was very well done and then lunch at another location that had feeders covered with new hummingbirds. Richard knew all the names of the birds we saw and had local stories about all the flora and fauna. We all agreed that our trip to Ecuador would not have been as wonderful as it was if we had not spent the day with Richard in Cloud Forest. I want to add that the average age of our group of four was 73 and although it was a little rough hike in the morning we all made it and Richard made sure that we were all safe and well taken care of throughout the day. 
Cynthia B.

Milpe Bird Sanctuary

BIRDING TRIP REPORT ECUADOR, 14th July – 5th August 2007    mirror

Birds_Ecuador.doc   pdf

Water & sun

The number one rule is be careful drinking the water. If you don’t know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. Take care [Be careful] with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added. Tea or coffee should also be OK, since the water should have been boiled. At altitudes greater than 2000m (6500ft), boil water for three minutes. Another option is to disinfect water with iodine pills.

In the tropics or at high altitudes you can get sunburned surprisingly quickly, even through cloud cover. Use sunscreen, a hat and a barrier cream for your nose and lips. Calamine lotion or a commercial after-sun preparation are good for mild sunburn. Protect your eyes with good-quality sunglasses, particularly if you will be near water, sand or snow.

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This is the worst of the watery diarrheas, and medical help should be sought. Outbreaks of cholera are generally widely reported, so you can avoid such problem areas. Fluid replacement is the most vital treatment – the risk of dehydration is severe, as you may lose up to 20L a day. If there is a delay in getting to a hospital, then begin taking tetracycline. The adult dose is 250mg four times daily. Tetracycline is not recommended for children under the age of nine or for pregnant women. Tetracycline may help shorten the illness, but adequate fluids are required to save lives.

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Availability & cost of health care

Medical care is available in major cities, but may be difficult to find in rural areas. Most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. If you develop a life-threatening medical problem, you’ll want to be evacuated to a country with state-of-the-art medical care. Since this may cost tens of thousands of dollars, be sure you have insurance to cover this before you depart. Pharmacies in Ecuador are known as farmacias.

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Traveler’s diarrhea

To prevent diarrhea, avoid tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (iodine tablets); only eat fresh fruits or vegetables if cooked or peeled; be wary of dairy products that might contain unpasteurized milk; and be highly selective when eating food from street vendors.

If you develop diarrhea, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, preferably an oral rehydration solution containing lots of salt and sugar. A few loose stools don’t require treatment but, if you have more than four or five stools a day, you should start taking an antibiotic (usually a quinolone drug) and an antidiarrheal agent (such as loperamide). If diarrhea is bloody or persists for more than 72 hours or is accompanied by fever, shaking chills or severe abdominal pain you should seek medical attention.

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So no RAW fruit.  Avoid milk, ice, salads, uncooked veggie, shellfish, pork.
Why I chose Lead Adventures and 9 ways to prepare for your Galapagos Experience   mirror

Best Time for Galapagos Islands Cruises

The Galapagos is a year-round destination, and nature-loving visitors can expect to be stunned by the flora and fauna in any month. Still, there are two main "seasons," each of which has its draws and drawbacks.

High season, when families often push occupancy levels to the max, is considered mid-June through early September and mid-December through mid-January. From June through November, the Humboldt Current brings colder, nutrient-rich water and (slightly) cooler land temperatures. Average highs are typically around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds and seas tend to be a bit rougher. Skies are often overcast, but rain is uncommon. The change in water quality attracts fish and sea birds, making this a fantastic time to snorkel. Given the colder water temps -- sometimes in the low 60s -- wearing a wetsuit is a smart move for snorkelers hoping to stay in the water longer. This is also the mating season for the blue-footed boobies and waved albatrosses.

December through May, the air and water temperatures are typically warmer, in the high 80's, and seas are calmer. Light rain falls for a short period of time each day, but the spritz is balanced with potent sunshine. Sun-worshippers may be tested in February and March, when equatorial heat scorches the lava. Land vegetation explodes, with flowers coming into bloom. Several species of birds mate during this period, and sea turtle nesting also occurs.

El Nino, a weather phenomenon made famous on SNL by Chris Farley, can upend weather-related expectations, bringing a tropical feel to the surroundings at unexpected times.