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Discussion Starter #1
So has anyone here (Besides Mark Pepper of course) gone on one the frog tours? I was thinking it would be something I could afford to do next year for vacation, until I saw the cost of airfare to Peru. I'm curious if anyone knows/has tips for getting cheaper airfare to Peru? When I checked prices were around $1200 US regardless of time of year (granted I only checked for flights around the times the tours were offered).

If anyone here has gone on the tour, I'm also curious to know what expenses there were that wern't covered in the tour package. I think the tour package covers 2 meals a day, how expensive is a third one in Peru? How expensive are bar tabs for the person who enjoys a couple beers every now and then? Also are the "Shining Path" or any other guerilla/insurgent groups a concern that should be taken seriously?

-Tad
 
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The tours look really nice... something else I've been wondering is how hard it would be to work in a trip to machu pichu (sp?) or any other Incan ruins before or after the frog tour.

-Tad
 

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Hey Tad,

Mark and Manuel took me around Peru this past August and it was amazing! It’s a must do for any serious frogger, and well worth the money (this coming from a college student who had to save for five months to go on the trip). The diversity of amphibians in Peru will just blow you away, it’s like nothing else.

The price of airfare certainly is expensive, and it caught me off guard at first too. I just went to the local travel agency and asked them to find me the cheapest ticket, which turned out to be around $940. I poked around online a little later and actually found tickets for as cheap as $800, so I think $1200 is a little high for an estimate. I think if you’re pricing everything out, a more reasonable estimate is $1000, but you could call your local travel agent and see what they say too. I guess these prices were all from Chicago, so it might differ depending on where you depart from.

Most everything that you need is covered in the tour package. They basically take care of you while you’re down there, and all you need to buy is supplies for the trip (I can give you a list of what I bought if you want, probably budget around $75 - $200 depending on what you already own) and airfare. I also had to buy a hotel room in Lima because of the timing of my flights, but that was really cheap, only $35 a night in Peru!

Regarding meals, I wouldn’t bother budgeting for a third one. When you’re in the jungle looking for frogs the last thing you can think of is food. All desires for comfort go away when you’re chasing a wild pongoensis or reticulatus! I was concerned about it too when I read the site, and did bring quite a bit of extra spending money with me, but not once did I buy a third meal. If you did want to budget for an additional meal you wouldn’t need a lot, maybe $1 to $3 per small meal depending on where and what you eat. When you do eat it’s almost always great food. The worst you’re going to get is rice, beans, chicken, and plantains (unless you order fish soup in Pongo de Cainarachi). Other than that meals are good. I ate really well when I was down there, tons of great fish, but other options if that’s not what you want.

As far as bar tabs, that’s up to you and how much you drink. I don’t usually drink much, but Mark and Manuel corrupted me down there and we had to have at least a beer or two every night. Fortunately, in Peru you don’t generally pay $4 for a beer anywhere, everything is much cheaper. I’d say if you want to budget $75 to $100 for extra money down there (bar tabs, souvenirs, possible emergencies, etc.) that would be reasonable, but you certainly don’t have to bring $400 like some of the tourist books recommend. In fact, I think if you do bring anymore than $100 you’ll probably just be coming home with it unless you buy a bunch of expensive shirts and mugs at the airport. All that is necessary is included in the package, the money that you bring will just be for extra stuff.

My understanding is that the only dangerous areas of Peru these days are down south, far away from where you’ll be. The people that I spoke with while there were extremely friendly, particularly in rural areas, and I don’t think there is any rational reason to be concerned for rebel groups kidnapping you and holding you for ransom. I felt very safe during the trip once I got past the culture shock.

It definitely would be possible to work a trip to Cusco in with this tour if you planned it right. Maybe head down there a few days before the frog tour, and then make it back up in time to catch the flight to Iquitos. It would be more expensive, I think tickets to Cusco were around $200, plus you’d have to budget for hotels, food, etc. but if you’re into that kind of thing you might want to take advantage of being in Peru and go check out Machu Picchu.

I’ve typed a lot now, and could type a lot more, so if you have any specific questions don’t hesitate to ask. Overall it was an amazing experience, well worth the money, and definitely the place to be if you enjoy frogs. Hope you decide to and are able to go,
 
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Ok, about the food... both my gf and I are vegetarian (Ovo-lacto) eggs and cheese but no seafood. I love rice and beans... how much of a hassle will this be in Peru? I know basically no spanish, I really hate the idea of going to somoene else's country not being able to speak their language (I just feel like its rude or something), will this be a serious handi-cap?

College student and it only took five months to save up? You must have a nice p/t job.

-Tad
 
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So learn the language!
Well depending on my available time right now I'm working between 60-70 hours a week, that was/is part of the plan. And foreign languages were always my worst subject in school (I can't roll an "r" for the life of me).

-Tad
 

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I've been working 60/70 hours a week for the last 7 months.

Thankfully it's starting to drop back down to normal now (my frogs couldn't take much more of that schedule).

And I can't roll an "r" to save my life either - I feel your pain.

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Don't worry about the language barrier, while its obviously a bonus to speak spanish, it should not limit your enjoyment on any eco-tour. In most places in peru the people are extremely friendly, and are used to gringos speaking horrible spannish, or none at all. And the best way to learn spanish (or any language really) is immersion in the culture. Thats how I did. rrrrrrrrrroll those r's people:) its not so bad.

Being vegetarian wont present you with a problem, in most cases you will have plenty of options above rice and beans, soups, a wide variety of veggies, pastas, vegetarian pizzas and so on. And if worse comes to worse there is always yucca... a staple in the peruvian diet...In many out of the way places (not tour locations) i became a temporary vegearian, or wished i was after recieveing my meal...so you really would have no problem there.

mark
 

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OMG I LOVE YUCCA!!! That stuff is awesome (to me... yes I know I'm odd) and so hard to get in the states :( I went vegetarian while in costa rica, really easy, plenty of stuff available (wouldn't image peru being terribly different). Definately a diet I miss. I also picked up a thing for carrying avocadoes for snacks while backpacking lol.

Sadly saving pennies to get back to central america, so Peru isn't looking too hopeful this second, but definately trying for it in the next two years.
 

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food

I agree yucca tastes like cacca.My wife is spanish and she is always cooking odd meals and this is just one of them.
cya
 

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Cindy - oddly enough I never got to try it with beer. "Dry" backpacking trip... and I couldn't drink around the kiddies on base.... which sucked because after dealing with 60 girlscouts for two days I REALLY wanted to get trashed. Way too little beer that summer...

I should mention I had the yucca while backpacking 10-16 km a day... I probibly would have eaten my boot and thought it was the best thing in the world. I might not think of it as being that good now that I'm not starving so taste might actually become more important than the fact that its eadible.

Or maybe I am just crazy, and should leave it at that.

Mark - you're begining to sound like you drink a lot! I'm sure we'll get along just fine :D Whenever I eventually make it down there that is... *sigh*
 
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