Rules and recommendations

Tourism | Rules and recommendations

An adventurous travel to the tropics can only be termed to be successful if the following condition is met. You go back home, safe and sound, with unforgettable memories and the most beautiful portfolio of wildlife images you have ever created. Therefore, to achieve success, you have to arm yourself with knowledge on how to stay safe during the trip before you embark on it. This is important because herping and photo tours in the tropics are characterized by a number of risks that other types of tourism lack. What you have to do is embrace this touch of spice in the adventure, and read the following list of rules and recommendations designed to minimize the risks.

Photographers showing their pictures

Follow instructions. Above all others, the most important rule to live by while exploring the tropics is to observe and follow all oral instruction given by your Tropical Herping tour leader, or by the lodge or station's staff.

Be fit and healthy. Unlike birds, herps will generally not come to you. You have to come to them. If you want to find the most dazzling and rare amphibians and reptiles of the tropics, you will often have to hike in rough terrain under a variety of environmental challenges. For this reason, it is a good idea to get in your best shape ever before herping in the tropics.

Pay attention to food and water. Whenever you are eating outside any of our preferred lodges, try to choose foods that have been well cooked and are served hot, instead of salads, fruits, sauces or raw seafood. Also, it is advisable not to drink tap water at any point during trip. When combined with frequent hand washing, these will be your best strategies to avoid annoyances such as diarrhea, intestinal worms or diseases like hepatitis A. Also, don't forget to let us know in advance about any dietary requirement you may have.

Get your vaccines. The three most important vaccines to get before visiting the tropics are against yellow fever, tetanus and hepatitis. Some of these are even required for you to enter certain areas of Ecuador, such as Yasuni National Park.

Mosquito feeding on an anole

Protect against insects. Mosquitoes, sandflies and reduviid bugs are capable of transmitting a variety of pathogens to humans, including dengue, malaria, leishmanisis and chagas. To stay away from the diseases, stay away from the insect vectors. Cover up, use insect repellent and mosquito nets. Consult your physician if you wish to take medical precautions against malaria.

Avoid theft. All of our preferred destinations are safe to travel. That said, you should always be vigilant and care for your valuable items whenever you find yourself in busy bus stations, on crowded city streets and in bustling markets.

Respect the local flora and fauna. Both herping tours and photo safaris involve a close interaction with the animals. To make this interaction safe for both you and them, you must observe the following recommendations. Keep a safe working distance while observing or photographing, treat all animals, specially amphibians and reptiles, as though they were potentially harmful (many of them are), walk along designated trails, and do not collect samples of any kind.

Understand nature. Field herping and photo safaris in the tropics are not like going to a zoo. The number and kinds of animals you see depends on a variety of factors, including time of year, weather, and lunar phase. No species is 100% guaranteed, but you can increase your opportunities by booking your trip during new moon and during the rainy season.

Obtain travel insurance. Finding the right coverage for yourself and your personal belongings will give you peace of mind in a wide range of situations, from damage or loss of your equipment to accidents in the field. If your travel insurance agency has supplied you with the right level of cover, you should be able to apply for some compensation for any losses that might occur. Finally, although medical care is available in major cities, it may be difficult to find in rural areas. Most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance.

Know which substances are forbidden. Drugs are not allowed at any time during Tropical Herping's tours, workshops, expeditions or courses. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed in scientific stations, but they might be available for purchase at some lodges.

Use commonsense. You can avoid most accidents by using common sense. Always use rubber boots, watch your steps, and do not swim in caiman-infested lagoons. Believe it or not, accidents have happened.