Getting into the details of this expedition and story it’s become apparent that this could be a book. So, Unfortunately, I’m not bought into the fact of making it one yet, so here’s a quick summary.
We knew ahead of time that it would be real backwoods-type hiking and difficult conditions/terrain, so I wanted to be as ready as possible. This encouraged me to work out physically and mentally and to find the best value (high quality for a low price) equipment ahead of time.
Hiking training – I used my old backpack, filled it with random blankets and at least 45lbs of barbell plates. Then, once a week, I’d take my dog and/or friends and go hiking for 2-4 hours through nearby parks.
Also, not deviating much from my normal morning habit, I’d do 10-20 minutes of calisthenics and HIT kettlebell workouts (see Fitness Philosophy).
I can’t speak for the others but I heard they prepped by doing various things from hiking to hockey to triathlons.
–DFD raised money for hiring EMI through a GoFundMe and giving talks about the mission.
-Rachel won a grant from the Austen-Stokes Ancient Americas Foundation
–EMI secured a partnership through a rental of an Artec space spider and dedicated an Eva from their own inventory. Also, they made a custom pelican case, dedicated 2 laptops and batteries, and purchased equipment. They then purchased travel insurance.
I purchased a bunch of clothing, snacks, equipment, and sourced my own equipment and clothing. Then I got 4 shots, trained a coworker to coordinate sales, set up processes for my responsibilities to be taken care of, sourced a caretaker for my 15yr old dog (Phillie), wrote a living will, hung out with my family, and packed everything I could.
Shots at Passport Health Ugh. Go ahead of time (like 6 weeks). Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Updates on the standard ones, and you can get Malaria and altitude sickness meds.
3 Trucks-2019 Toyota Hilux with roll cages, plastic sheets, radios, extra tires, and foam filled wheels, tarps, ropes, and a full toolset.
Huge med kit built by Daniel that had itemized index cards to find the sorted meds and tools.
6 Guides – all from the villages in the Northern Andes.
13 Backpackers (us).
23 Horses and mules sourced from Leymebamba.
Random How’s While Down There
Determination, focus on the mission (goals and objectives) – this was probably the biggest how for me… think “left foot, right foot, le…”
Trying to find how I could add value in every situation.
Eating 2x daily (usually breakfast and dinner).
Water and candy – lots of water. In fact, we ran out and had to use water filtration systems to resupply from the rivers. Candy was huge to combat altitude sickness and weariness.
Daniel tip: set up ways with your camping gear so that anyone can set it up – that way it can be shared, and if you’re ever out of your mind you can still get set up.
Macheteing paths through the jungle – lots of macheteing!
Being vigilant watching for snakes and pumas.
Constantly watching for, and communicating about, dangerous areas for humans/horses like swamps, sinkholes, thorns and trees on horses, and craggy rock mud next to cliffs.
Great planning from the likes of Daniel, Sinecio, and others – regular meetings and getting in synch.
7 flights to get there and back.
Fighting to get our luggage back.
This is what I traveled with:
The plane carry-on stuff: (in the collapsible backpack: one of the laptops, a couple books, 1 underwear & t-shirt, and a book) (in the fanny pack: 2 chargers and usbs, headphones, snacks, and paperwork)
All the items that I didn’t already have to bring I sourced from Amazon as the clearance to purchase them came only 2 weeks before departure. It definitely would have been preferable to have them earlier and test them out first. In any case, here’s the equipment that I brought:
(Not shown: My 2x 18″ Dell Precision laptops, 1 handheld solar-powered battery charger, 1 small battery bank, 2 cell phones)
Daniel brought a satellite phone for emergencies.
Artec and Dell equipment: 2x Artec batteries, Eva, Space Spider, power chords and connections, extra laptop battery.
1 LapWorks 8 inch Heavy Duty Swivel Eh! It is what it is. Necessary for scanning the artifacts though. It was small and durable.
2 imuto 60W Solar Charger Solar Panel with 5V 2.7A USB Output + 18V 3A DC Output SunPower Foldable High Efficiency Charger These ended up not being useful as the power bank I brought failed. That being said, I would still bring one for safety.
1 BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter Power Step Down 220V to 110V Voltage Converter with QC3.0 USB Charging Port Great tool to keep all the equipment charged!
Floureon Portable Power Station, 200Wh Solar Generators Lithium Power Supply with 120V/200W AC Outlet, 4 USB Ports, Solar Input for Outdoors This thing failed on me, so I don;t have much to say about it.
The North Face Base Camp L Duffel Best bag I’ve ever come across – it can be used as a backpack too. Carried a ton of weight, on horse-back, through crazy terrain and climate, and kept every secure and dry. Most others brought an XL version of this bag.
2 Waterproof Dry Bags 10L These things worked really well to keep things dry through the legit jungle rain!
1 Nemo Hornet Ultralight Backpacking Tent This tent was awesome! Super light and packs small. Held up great in poor conditions and I’d buy one for myself for most adventures.
1 Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad Packed nicely, kept the air well, and was pretty comfy. Didn’t take to much to blow it up (which is good that high in altitude).
1 ope+ Inflatable Camping Pillow Set Pretty comfortable, didn’t take to much to blow it up and packed small.
1 Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree F 650 Fill Power Hydrophobic Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base – Ultra Lightweight 3 Season Men’s and Women’s Mummy Bag Designed for Backpacking Man I love this sleeping bag! Packs well, is really light, and stays warm.
1 20meter, 12mm diameter, climbing rope Really well-made rope.
1 LEATHERMAN – Bit Kit, 21 Double-Ended Screwdriver Bits for Multitools What can I say? Multitools are dope.
1 LEATHERMAN – Skeletool Simple and useful.
2 WdtPro High Lumens XML-T6 LED Flashlights – Zoomable, 5 Modes, Waterproof Handheld Flashlight with Rechargeable 18650 Lithium Ion Battery & Charger Best flashlights I’ve ever seen!! I want to always have these around – they have a great range, are super bright, and are great battling water.
1 Pocket Light LED Solar Camping Lantern & Collapsible Flashlight with USB Emergency Power Bank Charger This thing was really handy for sharing light. A little flimsy, but got the job done.
1 LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag – Removes Lead, Bacteria, Parasites and Chemicals This thing saved our asses when we ran out of water.
LifeStraw Steel Personal Water Filter with 2 Stage Carbon Filtration Didn’t end up using this, but it was conveniently sized and packed easily just in case.
1 Camping Cookware Set Pretty standard – did the trick.
Tactical Pen for Self-Defense, LED Tactical Flashlight, Bottle Opener, Window Breaker, Ballpoint Pen, Multi-Tool Really handy for keeping a writing tool through the weather. It also had a nice little light on it.
3 Combat Wipes Packs Oh hell yeah. You know what’s up. These were great for jungle shits! Green friendly and all.
(Not shown: Rubber boots (bought at “home base” down there for like $5 and they were the hiking boots of preference, Patagonia nano puff jacket which is invaluable, a pair of sweat pants (wish I brought another pair of pants), a few t-shirts, 6 more pairs of socks and underwear, a cotton long sleeve, and a rain jacket from work) (Also, the Under Armour Jungle Rat Boots ARE THE FUCKING SHIT and the Invicta watch I had was awesome (sorry don’t have the details))
1 IRH Equi-Pro Helmet Def. saved my stupid noggin’s few-brain-cells-left on several occasions while riding Chocito.
1 TECH-P 16-in-1 Water Resistant Survival Tactical Emergency Watch Bracelet Hiking Camping Kit Eh. I basically just got this for the tools in it. It got snagged by a tree and is probably living with the Pumas right now.
The shirts were great for the ever-changing climate and the hat/scarf combo was super warm. I love the hat and use it all the time.
The Grey Wolf socks were loose-fitting which caused issues (obviously while walking/hiking around), but the Yuedge socks were great for comfort and durability.
1 LETHMIK Fishing Sun Boonie Hat Waterproof I loved this hat! Would use this for all types of hiking.
MAGCOMSEN Men’s Outdoor Quick Dry Pants These pants were tight-fitting which I was really hesitant about, however that fact made them really valuable! Being on/off horses where trees and thorns were always lurching for attention, it was great to not have loose clothing that would oblige. Also, the light weight was great due to the difficult terrain and long distances.
Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Poncho This was awesome for the heavy rain and packed quite small.
1 Tru-Spec Men’ 24-7 Xpedition Pant These pants were awesome too, however, they were heavier and baggy so not as efficient – super useful if not doing huge hikes, but crazy durable.
5 Real Essentials Dry-Fit Moisture Wicking Active Athletic Performance Crew T-Shirts Pretty standard wicking T’s but they were great for the changing climate.
10 KBNI Bamboo Hiking Sock Pairs Best socks I’ve ever put on my 10 toes! Heavy duty and tight fitting.
1 ZONBAILON Athletic Bamboo Big Mens Underwear Boxer Briefs Pack of 6 Super comfortable and I love them for every day wearing too!
The horses carried the food (lots of rice, eggs!!, soup, some meat, some veggies, and tons of water)
I sought food to carry that was high in protein and fat that was also small to pack and was extremely happy with all of these:
I’m sure I’m missing stuff – tried to get most of the important stuff, so if you have any questions please feel free to reach out!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more info.