El Humahuaqueño (Traditional festival song)
Hatun Karpay
Initiation in Peru

An account of an initiation into
ancient Andean spiritual traditions
during which we learn to tap into
and work with the natural energies
of the earth and the universe.

Hatun Karpay Initiation in Peru




For the very latest in travel restrictions if you're leaving from a USA International airport, here's the TSA's website.


I've been to several areas of the world over the past 11 years and have learned a few tips that will make traveling easier for you. When I first went overseas, I thought I had to take everything with me that I might possibly need. I didn't use half of it, of course. So, over time and subsequent trips, I learned to cut my packing way down to the minimum necessities. And I became a much happier traveler. Now I plan what to wear each day and lay it all out in daily piles on the bed before packing. Then I eliminate some items, if necessary, so that I'm left with the essentials for each day's clothing.



LUGGAGE: We're usually allowed to take one large suitcase and one carry-on for overseas flights. But remember, now (2010) the airlines charge for baggage. So find out how much and what the weight limits for each bag are before deciding what to pack.

When I went on this 10-day Hatun Karpay Initiations trip via the Wiraqocha Foundation, we spent 2-3 days in Cuzco first, then 4 days in Machu Picchu, then back to Cuzco for the rest of our stay. When you sign up for the present-day trips, find out the schedule first. If you plan ahead, and pack your carry-on for the 4 days in Machu Picchu, with the rest of your clothing in the large suitcase, you'll be prepared to make the switch in locations with minimal hassle.

So in my carry-on, I placed 4 days worth of lighter clothing suitable for the semitropical climate at Machu Picchu. I did not wear shorts, thank goodness, because those who did got many bites on their bare legs. Insect repellent didn't seem to work on those types of bugs.

When it was time to go to Machu Picchu, all I had to do was transfer my toiletries kit, hat and a few other items to my carry-on and I was ready. The hotel in Cuzco will put your large suitcase in locked storage.

When packing, I put the day's underwear, the blouse or t-shirt and the pants for each day together. So each morning all I had to do was take out the layer for that day. I could take these daily layers out of the suitcase and put them in drawers in the hotel room, if I desired.

However, I always placed my dirty clothing beneath a solid divider back in the suitcase each day. This saved on packing time when I had to leave the hotel for another hotel or for home. In Peru I found that if I washed out my underwear each night after taking a shower, the items would be dry in the morning.

Also, I packed as lightly as possible, taking only what I knew I'd need plus a few extra sox and underwear. I wanted to leave room in my suitcase for stuff I might purchase at my destination.



MICROFIBER FLEECE JACKET: Lightweight, and with several pockets, is perfect for Peru. This can be worn by itself if the day isn't going to be cold and windy.

NYLON WINDBREAKER JACKET: To wear alone or over the fleece jacket, the windbreaker is a necessity for Peru, as much of the time it's quite windy in the mountains. The combination of these two jackets kept me warm and I could layer or unlayer as the day progressed. I just used the sleeves of the jacket I removed tied around my waist. Sometimes I could leave it on our private bus.

LIGHTWEIGHT PONCHO: For those sudden and unexpected drenchings one can get during the wet season, November through March. If you get one that folds up and can be stored in a compact pouch, this works fine. Much better than trying to cope with an umbrella.



MONEY BELT: With 2 zippered pockets. I wore mine with the zippers facing inward. Pickpockets abound in Peru, so you can't have a separate purse, as it's likely to be stolen no matter how hard you think you're hanging onto it.

BACKPACK or WAIST PACK: For the day trips. Wear these in front, not on your back! Pickpockets, again. I took a waist pack that had two holders for water bottles, plus some zippered pockets. No backpack. I really didn't need one.

SOFT HAT WITH A BRIM: To shade your face. The sun is very burning at high altitudes, even though the air might feel chilly.

JEWELRY: Leave your good stuff home! All over Peru there are thieves just looking for opportunities to snitch what they think may be valuable. They have been known to actually run up to a woman and try to rip off her necklace if it looks like gold or some other valuable material! Do NOT go out alone, either. Always make sure you have at least one other person with you.



HIKING BOOTS: I splurged and got the best boots I could afford. I prefer the over-the-ankle ones. These could be waterproofed and have removeable inserts so I could use my special inserts to support my arches. Soles should have plenty of tread to grip those stone steps, even when they're slick and muddy.

WALKING SNEAKERS (not running shoes): Again I bought the best I could afford. Mine are low, but have plenty of great tread. I used these in Machu Picchu instead of the hiking boots and they served me well.

Purchase your boots and other shoes at least a month in advance and wear them every day to break them in. Start with an hour and gradually increase the time worn until you can wear them all day.



SNACKS: Power bars, granola bars, whatever you use for extra energy and nutrition. Do not take along ordinary candy bars. These will seem to give you an energy boost, but then your energy may crash. Take enough healthy bars so you can plan to have 3-4 a day. Quite often our breakfasts were very early and our lunches late. A long time to go without food at high altitudes. Also, on the days when Juan bought box lunches, I often ate only my power bars. Their box lunches are pretty terrible.

SUPPLEMENTS, MEDICINES AND HERBS: You're on your own here! When I take supplements, I take them in their original containers, so if the authorities check, they don't think I'm trying to smuggle drugs into or out of the country. Then I put each day's supply in a sandwich-sized plastic zipper bag and keep the bottles in my hotel room.

If you must take prescription drugs, take them in their original container and also take along the prescription.

Ask your druggist (pharmacist) for some Diamox to help you cope with the high altitude. These pills seem to have no side effects and sure helped me for the first couple of days.

NUTRIBIOTIC GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT: Obtainable from natural foods stores. This comes as a glycerine extract in small squeeze bottles. Nine drops will sterilize a gallon of water. I used 4 drops in a small glass of tap water when I brushed my teeth and also to sterilize my toothbrush. It's bitter, but worth it, so you don't get 'traveler's revenge.'

Also take this product along as capsules. If you think you've eaten something you shouldn't have, immediately take 3-4 of them and repeat the dose an hour or so later. If you get sick at your stomach or get diarrhea, Juan carries some tablets that are very effective.

WATER: Tap water may look clean in Peru, but it's not potable, which means you shouldn't drink it. Buy bottled water from the hotel (expensive) or from the peddler in front of the hotel. It's the same stuff. I bought two pints to carry with me each day and a quart or so to keep in the hotel room. Make sure you ask for "agua sin gas." (Agua is pronounced "ahwah.") This is the non-carbonated type. If you want carbonated, ask for "agua con gas." But it's not such a good idea to drink carbonated water at high altitudes, as it can give you lots of bloating.

SUNSCREEN: Even if you already have a tan, it's best to use a sunscreen of at least 32 SPF. The Andean sun is unbelievably strong. Very sensitive people should use a SPF of 45, wear a brimmed hat at all times outside, even on cloudy days, and wear long sleeves and pants.

INSECT REPELLENT: I took along some repellent, but had to use it only a few times. I waited until I got attacked and then put on the repellent, as I don't like to just slather it on at the beginning of the day. The only times we really needed to use repellent was at Machu Picchu, and then that was mostly for those who had bare legs.



CASH: American (USA) money is accepted in Peru, but you can exchange it for Peruvian soles either at the hotel (you won't get a good rate) or use the money changers that Juan (or your guides) recommends. If you happen to have any new bills, though, you might have problems with the money changers, as they may not recognize the newest USA paper money. Juan had to vouch for us when we first tried to exchange our new "funny money" colored 20-dollar bills. Each morning in Cuzco, we met a man on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and he gave us a good rate for our American bills. At Machu Picchu we exchanged money at the hotel.

Go to the bank a week or so before you leave and ask for clean, new 10s, 20s and 50s. Some Peruvian money changers won't take bills if they're creased, worn or torn!

When ready to leave Peru for home, don't try to ask the money changers to change your money back into the currency of your country. I believe that you can exchange your Peruvian soles for your own country's currency ONLY at the Lima international airport. I also have found this to be true in several other countries. You can change back to your own country's money only when leaving the country and only at the airport.

TRAVELER'S CHECKS: You can take Traveler's Checks, but you won't get as good a rate of exchange if you do. Also, the banks charge a whopping 10% fee for each check cashed! I kept all my money with me at all times and had no problems. My money belt was always around my waist, hidden by my jackets or under my t-shirts.

CREDIT CARDS: Visa and MasterCard are accepted. I had two credit cards for emergencies, but didn't have to use them.



CAUTION: Register ANY electronic devices that you plan to take, like cell phones, cameras, recorders, laptops, tablets, etc, with the Customs Office of your country. You can find Customs Offices at any airport which accepts flights from foreign countries. Phone ahead first to find out what days and hours you can register equipment.

This is very important, so when you re-enter your country after your trip, you can prove that you owned the gear before your trip and that you did not buy it while out of your country.

Another caution: Do NOT take any photographs at ANY airport! If you do so, you may have your film, memory cards and camera confiscated, or worse - you yourself may be incarcerated!

CELL PHONES: Currently, 2016, cell phones that have embedded cameras will take images almost as good as will the larger and more expensive digital cameras. This includes tablets and smaller ones like iPads and iPods. So you may want to just divest yourself of all your heavier and more expensive cameras and separate lenses. Believe me, when you're coping with the high altitudes, you really don't want to lug too much extra weight around. I do not know whether the particular cell phone you have will work in Peru for communicating. But the camera should work just fine. Unless you are a pro photographer, that is.

Before you leave for your trip, develop a system to keep track of which folders contain which pictures: A small notebook in which you can jot down the date. Also, take verbal 'notes' with the audio feature of your cell phone, instead of or in addition to a notebook.

BATTERIES: You'll need to remember to take along extra new batteries for your cameras and other equipment. Do not rely on buying batteries in Peru. You can take dedicated rechargable batteries, but you must also take along the special chargers for those types of batteries, and also a current converter suitable for use if your destination country uses different outlets and current from your own country. Same is true if you are using a cell phone




Here's a free, easy to use currency rates converter to give you up-to-the-minute conversion rates from any country's currency to any other currency! A very handy site to bookmark.



Peru lies in the same time zone as the eastern coast of North America. If you live in any other time zone, this little trick will help you reset your body's energy meridians to local Peru time.

This very easy massage technique was taught to some of my friends by an acupuncturist. He said he didn't know why this works, but that it resets the body's energy meridians to local time wherever you land.

You must do this during the last few minutes that the plane is circling for landing. If you wait until the plane has touched down, it's too late, even though your own feet may not have touched the ground!

1. With LEFT hand, massage the whole LEFT ear lobe, inside and out, over and over until the plane lands.

2. Simultaneously, with RIGHT arm crossed in front of chest, find the sorest spot in the middle of your LEFT side. For women this is approximately at the lower edge of the bra. So men can judge from that where to hunt for the spot. Massage this sore spot while you massage the LEFT ear lobe, until the plane lands.

That's all there is to it! It really does work! The ear lobes have over 300 acupuncture points that go to all parts of the body. Also, that sore spot in the middle of the left side is a major junction point that influences all the meridiens.

I have used this simple massage and taught it to all the passengers around me on long trips to New Zealand, Australia, China and Tibet. Over there, their daytime is our nighttime here in North America. The people in my groups who did this massage had minimal jet lag, while those who didn't do this took over two weeks to get over jet lag after returning home! This also works if you're crossing only one or two time zones.



Peru is in the same time zone as the East Coast of the USA. Peru always stays on Standard Time, but certain other South and Central American countries switch to Daylight Savings Time from about November to March. To see other Western Hemisphere countries, just click on the link in the upper right corner, "America."



A chart comparing the world's time zones, naming well-known cities and countries and giving their time variation from Greenwich Mean Time.


Not a chart, this site allows you to click on any country. You'll see the Greenwich Mean Time plus that country's local time(s).

Another sueful website: WORLD CLOCK. It works in a similar way to the above.


A fairly new (2010) website, this is a very helpful twist on a search engine. You just ask it a question, and within a few moments, it will give you answers. Ask it about the weather in a specific location for a specific time period. Or ask about airport baggage requirements. Or about food in a particular country. It has access to almost any activity that man has dreamed up, provided there is a data base for that activity, location, subject. Being as specific as you can with your question will naturally give you a better answer.


Click on the numbers to go to that page.

Index ~ 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ Rainbow Rock
7 ~ 8 ~ 9 ~ 10 ~ 11 ~ 12 ~ Travel Tips
13 ~ 14 ~ 15 ~ Links 2 ~ 16 ~ 17 ~ 18
19 - Musings


Florence W. Deems
© February, 1999;
revised May, 2002; November, 2002;
May, 2003; March, 2004; February, 2008;
September, 2008; July, 2010; July, 2012
March, 2014
August, 2016, all rights reserved