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Pre-Departure Trip Information

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The following information will help in preparing for your upcoming trip.

A valid U.S. Passport
is required for entry into all countries. Many countries require that passports be valid for at least another six months after travel has ended.  It is the responsibility of the traveler to have the proper travel documents.  The only countries that require a visa are Brazil, Paraguay & Bolivia.  Check with their respective consulates or Embassies in Washington DC for specific requirements and applications.  Visa service companies will also handle obtaining these visas for you.  Any other nationalities should check with the Consulate of each country to be visited to verify applicable entry documents.

LADATCO TOURS uses local companies in each country who are intimately familiar with the customs and business methods of that country. They control all the services and accommodations in that country and will be available to help with any additional assistance you may need. 
        Your specific tour inclusions were detailed prior to receipt of your deposit but, in general, all of LADATCO’s arrangements include transfers, tours, accommodations and any specifically requested services.
        Local host-guides will meet you upon arrival at the airport or other entry point; they will be carrying a sign with your name on it. They will be outside customs or, on domestic arrivals, outside luggage claim. 
        They will transfer you to your hotel and help you get checked in. They will verify with you all tours and services to be provided, when to be ready for tour departures and they will reconfirm your departure flight and transfer. They will also give you a local contact number should you need additional assistance during your stay. 

Final documents are generally issued three to two weeks prior to your departure and will include a detailed day-by-day itinerary with complete hotel and emergency contact information for each destination, pre-paid vouchers, special baggage tags, restaurant suggestions for major destinations and other items such as air tickets if issued by LADATCO.
         Copies of your final travel documents will be posted on LADATCO’s DOCUMENTS ONLINE portal and you, and anyone you allow, can access these documents anytime anywhere you have internet access. These will be posted once documents are issued. Complete access instructions will be included with your final travel documents.

Most airports impose “departure” or “airport” taxes.  Costs will be less for domestic flights, more for international departures.  These taxes fluctuate.  Some must be paid in local currency; most can be paid in US dollars though change will be in local currency, if available at all.  Your local hosts in each city will tell you how much you need and in which currency.

Gratuities often represent a substantial part of a worker’s earnings and are certainly an incentive to provide the best service possible.  Here are some guidelines; adjust them to represent the service you receive and the thanks you want to express:

For guides, per person: $5-$10 per half day; $10-$20 per full day
For drivers, per person: $2-$3 for half day; $5-$8 per   full day

Meals that are included are to be taken in the hotel dining room, unless a specific restaurant is indicated or the meal is included on a tour.  Meal inclusions, especially beverages, can easily vary and you should always verify what is included before ordering. 
        LADATCO includes meals only when necessary or when it represents a plus value. We feel that leaving you free to arrange your own meals gives you the freedom to choose not only where to eat but what to eat as well. Check with your local host-guides for their suggestions and recommendations; they’re out and about all the time and are familiar with what’s good at the moment. 
        To be safe rather than eventually sorry, always drink bottled water.  In most of the better hotels and restaurants, ice is generally made with purified water.  Elsewhere it is better to drink pre-chilled drinks rather than put warm drinks over ice.

Personal physicians, local health centers and the CDC (800-232-4636) are your best sources of information on what current inoculations are recommended and/or required to the areas you will be traveling. Yellow fever inoculations are required if portions of your trip will be in some rainforest areas of Peru & Ecuador and if entering Brasil from Peru. Some health authorities also suggest malaria prophylaxis pills be taken. Generally speaking, most travelers also prefer to have their tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis shots up to date.   Consult your physician regarding these and/or any other health-related issues/recommendations regarding your trip. If you plan to carry your prescription medications, make sure they are in clearly marked containers, preferably in their pharmacy bottles with prescription label intact and in your name.

Most international carriers allow TWO pieces of checked luggage per person for a maximum of 50 lbs each free of charge, and one carry-on. Verify luggage allowance for your specific carrier as it can easily change.
      In general, small aircraft flights, predominant in Belize, Panama and Costa Rica, have weight limits of 25 lbs. per person for checked luggage and 10 lbs. per person for carry-on.  Flights to and from the Galapagos have a 44 lbs. per person weight restriction.  
        If you are going to the rainforest, you’ll want to have a soft-sided duffel-style bag for your rainforest gear, leaving other luggage behind in the gateway city to await your return. The same idea applies if you are doing one or two night extensions into the countryside – have a small bag available to take with you and leave the large luggage behind. Always make sure your luggage is lockable and is well labeled, and never leave valuables in your luggage – locked or unlocked.
        Packing information pertinent to specific areas is included in this booklet. But in general, plan to layer your clothing. Coat and tie may be required by some of the finer restaurants in major cities; some cities, like Buenos Aires, are more sophisticated  while others, like Rio, are very casual.

Because emergencies and unforeseen events can occur and your travel arrangements represent a considerable investment, we highly recommend that you have Trip Cancellation and Travel insurance.

A guide to electric current and plug adapters is available at the back of this Pre-Departure Trip Information booklet. Be safe, and take what you need.

You can use credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) and Traveler’s Checks in all major cities and in most of the better hotels, restaurants and stores.  ATM machines are available in major cities only but use with the same caution as you would in the USA. More information included at the end of this booklet.
        Due to currency fluctuations, wait until arrival in a country before obtaining local currency.   Your local host will advise you as to exchange regulations and locations. Exchange only what you need as you need it, as converting back to U.S. Dollars is practically impossible.  Take along some One Dollar bills in good condition – you will find them useful in many instances.