What to Take to Cocha Cashu

The following is a basic list of supplies that you are likely to need while staying at Cashu. The list is not exhaustive. For comfort and/or research you may want to bring additional items.

First, what NOT to take: Avoid as much as possible taking in anything that will become non-organic rubbish (e.g. plastic packaging materials). This is because all non-organic rubbish must be taken out of Cashu. There is a bin at the station to collect such rubbish and CCBS is responsible for removing it.

Money: Checks and credit cards are usually not accepted, your ATM card is most likely to work (but only in Lima and Cusco, not on the journey to Cashu). American dollars are accepted in Cusco, but for the journey to Cashu it is better to have Peruvian soles handy. To give you an idea of what you’ll need money for: the journey from Cusco to Cashu takes three days (if all goes well). Private transport by van from Cusco to Atalaya (one way) costs between US $ 280 and US $ 340 in total. The more people share the van, the lower the individual cost. It is possible to take a public bus – departing from Cusco at 5am – to Pilcopata (20 soles), and from there to Atalaya (40-50 soles) but we do not recommend this option as it is less safe;  we cannot be held responsible for any accidents or problems. In Pilcopata you may have to wait for ongoing transport to Atalaya or you may find there is none. Furthermore, if you have lots of luggage (more than one rucksack and one additional bag) you will not be permitted on the public bus. Transport by boat from Atalaya to Cocha Cashu (one way) costs about US $ 550, again to be shared by the number of passengers. There are no alternatives. You will need to coordinate with Veronica, administrator of the station, to see how much you will have to pay. You will be spending one night each in Atalaya and Boca Manu, at 20 soles per night. And lastly, meals in Atalaya and Boca Manu are 10 soles each. You will also need some soles for snacks and drinks.

Lunches: You should take your own lunch for the drive from Cusco to Atalaya, and also arrange your own lunch for the boat trip from Atalaya to Cusco (you can either bring snacks from Cusco, or have a packed lunch prepared by the hostal owner in Atalaya). On your return journey from Cashu to Boca Manu, CCBS will provide a packed lunch. Bring a tupper or plastic container for the packed lunches (which might consist of rice or pasta).

Tent:  Take a durable tent with strong zippers. A larger tent (> 4 person) is recommended for a longer stay. If the tent is old or well-used, you should apply a seam sealer and consider testing it for leaks in a heavy rain. Cashu is not a good place to discover that your tent no longer protects against rain. CCBS will provide a tarp for above the tent, to protect it against falling branches and to give added shelter from rain.

Bed: Most residents use a sleeping bag, often with a sheet as liner, though some prefer a blanket instead of a sleeping bag. Blankets can be purchased inexpensively in Cuzco.

Air mattress/thick sleeping pads (e.g., thermarest): More essential than you think; a good one is worth the extra expense. Bring a repair kit to patch leaks.

Day pack and/or hip pack: Extremely useful, should be a good size (you may want to have handy a rain coat, binocs, camera, snacks, water, repellent, sun block, notebook, etc.).

Large backpack (and duffels): Suitcases will become damaged; waterproof backpacks are an option.

Waterproof/plastic bags: The journey to and from Cashu can be wet; use bin/trash bags for clothes, sleeping bag, etc.

Binoculars: 7-8x for mammal projects; 10x for birds. The best are worth it if you can afford them.

Camera: With flash, spare camera battery, spare UV filter, telephoto lens.

Watertight container: “Dry bags” sold for water sports at recreational supply companies are recommended for protecting equipment; a watertight bag made of heavy plastic is an inexpensive substitute. Army surplus ammo cans are useful (but bulky) to protect electronics from water and jostling.

Silica gel: Important. Calcium chloride pebbles to include with items being stored in watertight containers. Can be re-dried by heating. Essential if you bring a notebook or camera.

Sweater, fleece, or jacket: Warmer layers are occasionally needed because the temperature can drop during “friajes” to 10 deg. C or less.

Waterproof jacket and poncho: Take a good waterproof coat; cheap ones tend to seep or leak. A poncho is very useful when traveling on the boat to and from the station during rain or friajes.

Clothing: Durable, light-weight and quick-drying clothing is recommended. Cotton is inexpensive and comfortable. New synthetic and/or wool blends are also comfortable and will dry more quickly than cotton. Some (particularly older) synthetics are not comfortable in warm, wet environments where sweat is a part of daily life. We recommend you try out new clothes in a warm, wet environment or in other conditions (e.g. exercise) that promote sweating.

Pants: Bring at least three pairs of long pants suitable for fieldwork. Sweat pants are comfortable for around camp.

Shirts: Long-sleeved shirts are recommended because of mosquitoes and phlebotamus flies (carriers of Leishmaniasis).

Footwear: Do not skimp on this most crucial part of your clothing. Medium-heavy hiking boots are recommended for their snake-resistant qualities. In addition, you will need a pair of rubber boots (knee length). Sneakers, sandals, etc. are not recommended for use in the forest or even around camp where venomous snakes occasionally turn up. That said, some people do walk around camp in sandals to give their feet an airing. Protective “snake gaiters” may also be used to protect the lower leg from snake bite.

Other clothing: Underwear, socks, bathing suit, warm hat.

Cap with visor/hat with brim: Very important for the river trip to cut exposure to sun and glare.

Towel: Absorbent but fast-drying is best. African ‘kikois’ are useful for this.

Eyewear: You will need sunglasses for the boat journey. Bring spares of glasses and contacts – remember, replacements cannot be obtained.

Hygiene items: The station provides toilet paper, hand soap, soap for washing clothes and detergent. Other items such as deodorant, shampoo, and female hygiene products are not provided.

Detergent for washing clothes: Biodegradable detergent is not available in Peru. If you can, please bring biodegradable detergent with you. CCBS will provide normal detergent.

Flashlight/head lamp: Invest in a good one (with a directed rather than a diffuse beam of light) and consider a spare.

Sundry items: Toothbrush and toothpaste, insect repellent, sun screen, water bottle, ear plugs, travel pillow.

Batteries: You will be able to recharge these at CCBS. Please note that Cashu uses the USA socket type which fits a plug with two flat pins or two round pins. 

Medicines: Although there’s a basic stock of medicines and a First Aid kit at CCBS (including polyvalent snake antivenom), you must bring a supply of any personal medications that you need. Also, bring antihistamine cream / tablets for insect bites.

Alcohol (for drinking): Alcohol is not available at the station. Researchers may bring in their own, but any inappropriate behaviour resulting from alcohol abuse will result in a warning, and, if repeated, this privilege will be removed.

PROJECT EQUIPMENT

The remoteness of Cashu requires investigators to think ahead and anticipate all equipment needs. There is no corner hardware store in the Manu. Suggestions: Notebooks & writing implements Wire and pliers for fastening things Collecting equipment, vials, bags Cloth, newspaper Measuring tapes, rulers.

Photo: Dano Grayson

10369128_919794251366884_7676307944003554540_n