Tien Shan

Intense UV - We are at 7000 feet (2000 meters) altitude right near the equator, A place with more intense Ulraviolet radiation than just about any other on Earth. During the middle six hours of a sunny day the UV is considered extreme and dangerous, and just a few minutes at mid day on unaccustomed skin can cause burning. For an hour on each end of that the UV will be high and still dangerous, with a few more minutes of exposure allowable. The best time to do sunning on bare skin is before 8:30 AM and after 4 PM.

Therefore: you should bring a good sun hat with a full brim, one with a chin strap for wind; and not baseball caps. You should bring long sleeve button up shirts of the full billowy kind, and best is getting what is called a sun shirt, which is made for this. Long lightweight pants and shorts. Sunglasses with UV A and B protection (I use industrial safety glasses with a mirror finsish) Sunscreen.

Wind, rain, and cold - The temperature never goes above 80 or below 60 degrees F. but there is no heating, and sitting around in misty 60 degree temperatures can chill you to the bone, so you will need several layers of warm clothing for sitting around in at night. You should bring a wind and rain proof jacket, one that is not insulated too much, and if you prefer, another one which is well insulated. You should bring a warm hat and you may want warm gloves too. During the time of heavy rains it is good to have an umbrella.

You should bring thick warm wool socks for evenings, and hiking boots, waterproof ones during the rainy season or get some good $6 rubber boots here in Ecuador. You might also want some thin lightweight walking shoes and thinner socks for hot days. One highly recommended shoe to have is some tough high quality sandals like the kind Teva makes. They help keep your feet and therefore you cooler, and allow you to get around in the wet or dry.

At this altitude it makes a difference if you are in the sun or not. It can go back and forth between blazing hot sun to overcast misty breezy and chilly. In general it is mild and comfortable here but you need to be prepared for the extremes. If it's partly cloudy and mild then T shirts can be fine.

Camping Expect camping. For camp supplies you'll need a medium warm sleeping bag or blankets, a compact pillow, and an air mattress you can add to the thin mattresses here, for more comfort. You can buy blankets and foam mattresses inexpensively In Vicabamba instead if you wish.

You should bring your own soap, towels, washcloths, brushes, mirror, toiletries, toothpaste, an alarm clock, and any other thing of that type that you will want

Tenting is welcome, and you can camp in the A frame camp or set up a semi permanent camp somewhere. In place of a tent you may want to consider my favorite way of camping, which is in a hammock with a tarp over it, they are very comfortable to sleep in and are easy to put up in places that may not be flat enough for a tent. What you do is you tie a strong cord to the trees holding the hammock, just above where the hammock is tied on, and drape a big tarp over that. This way you can have a big dry area around your hammock, and you should use a chair to sit comfortably in your camp, you can get a nice plastic chair with armrests in Vilcabama for $8. You should bring plenty of tant stakes and cord so that you can tie the tarp down tight on rainy stormy nghts or for privacy, and have it open like an awning on nice days. You can get camping hammocks with attached mosquito netting and youcan get mosquito nets that are made to go over any hammock. There are hardly any mosquitos here, and the rare ones that apoear are tiny and slow. You will need to use an air mattress or foam pads for insulation in a hammock in order to stay warm.

Cooking - We suggest that people bring their own favorite food bowl to eat out of, an insulated mug, and a frying pan (light weight stainless is best for traveling) or backpacker's cooking kit, coffee filters, and any thing of that sort you might want in order to prepare your tea and food in your camp. We provide the stove and the propane.

We have some green and herbal tea in the center kitchen, but you should bring all the tea and coffee you want to have in your camp. You should also get all the kinds of expensive foods and treats that you will want for yourself.

We will provide the basics of a simple and healthy diet, like oatmeal and/or fruits in the morning, a great variety ofprepared dishes for lunch, and vegetables, root vegetables, and grains for you to fix what youlike in your camp. We will provide a prepared lunch, which is the main meal of the day, and you can take the food you want to have for dinner or breakfast to your camp for preparation there.

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