Macro Photography in the Peruvian Amazon | Field Projects International
 

Macro Photography in the Peruvian Amazon

Deadline to register: 60 days before tour start date

Why photograph in miniature in the Amazon rainforest?

Insect assemblages have long been used as important indicator groups for conservation biodiversity monitoring as they are “common, biologically and taxonomically well understood, easily observed and identified in any site or season, [and] widespread and comparable across sites, seasons, habitats and human use regimes…” (Brown 1997). Over 90% of the species in the Amazon are insects, with biodiversity levels more than 4 times as high in Peru as all of Europe. 

But most tellingly, “the Amazon rainforest may house as many as 2.5 million species of insects, although only a tiny fraction of this number have been described by scientists.”

Practicing macro photography, therefore, is a breeze in the Amazon – you never have to photograph the same thing twice, and there are far more subjects than you can possibly photograph even in a lifetime. 

This photo-tour emphasizes on-the-spot photography of living insects and other minutiae in vivo, and will not be translocating insects or killing them for the purposes of this tour. All of the wildlife at the field site in question is protected by the strictest of Peruvian laws.

Why take this tour?

The difference between going on a tourist-centric safari at a rainforest eco-lodge and honing your photography skills at a biological field station lies in opportunity, quality, impact, and awareness. Gain access to wildlife under the tutelage of an experienced scientist and wildlife photographer, who will give you both the naturalist’s and the artist’s take on your work. Learn about the biology of the miniature wildlife and habitats that you photograph and give your photography an immediate edge over that of others. Contribute to conservation research and raise awareness of the threats faced by this delicate and fragile habitat. Simply being there helps to fund conservation projects associated with this site. Pick up valuable field skills that help you ensure that your photography has a low impact on the subjects you shoot while capturing scenes never-before recorded on camera. Let your enthusiasm drive your passion for ethical conservation photography. Ultimately, use our network of scientists to help identify the subjects in your images, and do all of this without harming a single subject.

  • Highlights
  • 4-night, 5-day Itinerary
  • 6-night, 7-day Itinerary
  • 8-night, 9-day Itinerary
  • Food & Refreshments
  • Bedrooms and Baths

 

Tour highlights

Experience the wonders of the Amazonian rainforest up close and personal.

Learn how to navigate and track animals.

Share trails with tapirs, armadillo, tamandua, and jaguars while tracking army ant bivouacs, spiders, and even ectoparasites.

Learn tree-climbing in 40-m tall forest canopies to locate insects that never come to the ground

Explore different microhabitats: swamps, ox-bow lakes, lookouts, successional forests, riverine habitats

Understand how to overcome challenges particular to shooting in miniature: working under low light conditions with minimal depth of field with moving subjects.

Discover the Amazon come alive at night with hikes and photography in the moonlight.

Record the incredible invertebrate diversity of the area: ~2.5 million species to choose from.

Learn how to use “stacking” to create images with better depth-of-field in Adobe Photoshop

Understand and become proficient at using gear such as extension tubes particular to shooting small subjects. 

Gain small group photography instruction from professional field guide and wildlife photographer Ishaan Raghunandan

 

Day 1 Arrive in Puerto Maldonado, anytime during the day. Meet group instructor, settle into hotel, explore the town and some of the local wildlife.

Day 2: Leave Puerto Maldanado early in the morning for a 6-hour boat ride up the Madre de Dios to the Los Amigos Biological Field Station. Opportunities to shoot river birds, caiman, and life as it is lived on a tributary of the Amazon. Safety and ethics orientation at the field site. Optional night hike.

Day 3: Morning hike,  photographing in natural light demonstration, afternoon solo/group hikes, all on the basis of an introduction to macro photography and lighting. 

Day 4: Photography using external flashes, optional tree-climbing to view insects in the canopy. Optional visit to a palm swamp. Post-production demonstration and the review of images.

Day 5: Return to PEM in the morning and fly out in the evening or, for an extra fee, spend the night in PEM and fly out on Day 6. 

 

Day 1 Arrive in Puerto Maldonado, anytime during the day. Meet group instructor, settle into the hotel, explore the town and some of the local wildlife.

Day 2: Leave Puerto Maldanado early in the morning for a 6-hour boat ride up the Madre de Dios to the Los Amigos Biological Field Station. Opportunities to shoot river birds, caiman, and life as it is lived on a tributary of the Amazon. Safety and ethics orientation at the field site. Optional night hike.

Day 3: Morning hike,  photographing in natural light demonstration, afternoon solo/group hikes on the trail system, all on the basis of an introduction to macro photography and lighting. 

Day 4: Photography using external flashes, optional tree-climbing to view insects in the canopy. 

Day 5: Studio photography in the field – how to photograph insects in controlled conditions without translocation to a lab.

 Day 6: Hike to an oxbow lake, climb the canopy tower or look for anacondas in a palm swamp – a day for the group to revisit their favorite spots. Post-production demonstration and the review of images.

Day 7: Return to PEM in the morning and fly out in the evening or, for an extra fee, spend the night in PEM and fly out on Day 8.

 

Day 1 Arrive in Puerto Maldonado, anytime during the day. Meet group instructor, settle into the hotel, explore the town and some of the local wildlife.

Day 2: Leave Puerto Maldanado early in the morning for a 6-hour boat ride up the Madre de Dios to the Los Amigos Biological Field Station. Opportunities to shoot river birds, caiman, and life as it is lived on a tributary of the Amazon. Safety and ethics orientation at the field site. Optional night hike.

Day 3: Morning hike,  photographing in natural light demonstration, afternoon solo/group hikes on the trail system, all on the basis of an introduction to macro photography and lighting. 

Day 4: Photography using external flashes, optional tree-climbing to view insects in the canopy. 

Day 5: Studio photography in the field – how to photograph insects in controlled conditions without translocation to a lab.

 Day 6: Hike to an oxbow lake, climb the canopy tower or look for anacondas in a palm swamp –

Day 7: A day for the group to revisit their favorite spots, or shoot subjects they have missed shooting thus far.

Day 8: Post-production demonstration and the review of images.

Day 9: Return to PEM in the morning and fly out in the evening or, for an extra fee, spend the night in PEM and fly out on Day 10.

Meals in Puerto Maldonado are easily obtained at good restaurants with affordable options (~$5 per meal). Due to the varying interests of our groups, we do not include meals in Puerto Maldonado in the tour cost – but we do accompany you to the restaurants of your choice both at the start and end of the field course. All meals from the day we travel from PEM to the Field station until we return to PEM will be provided for. Meals at the field station feature both Peruvian and western cuisine. These meals are healthy and will fill you up, but this is the middle of the rainforest, so don’t expect to get all your food groups represented in the same way you try to eat while you are at home. If you are concerned about this, take a multi-vitamin while at the field station. Vegetarians will sometimes get tofu and soy meat substitutes. Being vegan for this tour can be difficult (but it is not impossible).

You will also have access to cookies, crackers, coffee, and tea, at all times during the day while at camp. If you think you will do better with Cliff or Luna bars (or the like), please bring some for yourself.  Any additional treats you bring (including precious chocolate) will be fair game for small rainforest creatures, so bring plenty of ziplock bags in which to place your food. Also, avoid leaving wrappers in your rooms containing anything edible because that will attract some curiosity from the local miniature wildlife.

 

Accommodation at the field station falls into three categories: shared dormitory-style housing with shared restrooms, twin-bed rooms set in a large cabin with private restrooms, or twin-bed independent cabins. You may choose your level of privacy, noting that the most private option costs the most as well. Prepare to get grubby as you really explore the rainforest on foot. A packing list of supplies that will help you in this adventure will be sent to you after registration  

  • Companion Participants
  • Logistics: Travel, Visas, Vaccines
  • Equipment
  • Fee Details

 We understand that sometimes, a spouse or partner would like to accompany you on a photography tour, but doesn’t necessarily want to learn or do photography. We are happy to accommodate these persons as participants at the same head rate. Please understand that spouses/partners are welcome to join us on treks and activities but must be sure not to detract from the primary purpose of the tour, which is photography. 

International Air Travel: Getting to Peru from a different country is accomplished primarily by air. We recommend using Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia to book your flights online.  If you want to stay on to visit Machu Picchu, let us know, and we can provide travel recommendations.

Local Air Travel: You may fly into Puerto Maldonado any time on Day 1 of your tour. 

Visas: Every country has different requirements for visitors, depending on their citizenship. Tourist visas are free for US citizens and are available upon entry (see the US State Department’s information on travel to Peru here). For all other nationalities, please check here for your specific requirements. It is possible that you will have to apply for a visa at your local embassy before you arrive in the country so please confirm your visa requirements early. Visa applications can take as long as six weeks sometimes, during which your passport will need to be with the embassy in question. 

One further thing to consider is the visa requirements of any country you are transiting. For example, flying from Asia into Peru can be done via Europe, or via the UK, Canada or USA, which require transit visas.  So when you consider purchasing a flight, please look at the visa requirements of any stops along the way.

Vaccines: You will have to provide proof of a regular vaccination record (as listed here by the CDC). For travel to Peru, we require that you also get the following vaccines: Typhoid (oral or injectable), Yellow Fever, and Tetanus. If you have the flu shot for the year, all the better. Find a travel clinic and get your shots EARLY.

Arrival packet: A comprehensive travel packet that contains information on when and how to book your travel, visas, vaccinations, and packing tips, will be made available to all participants. This packet is provided to tour participants once they have registered for the tour. 

 

The following equipment will be available at the workshop: 

  1. Trail cameras (infra-red flash)
  2. GPS and compass
  3. DSLR cameras for learning purposes during tour modules (not to be used in the field)

You must bring the following equipment with you:

  1. A DSLR camera
  2. Raw editing software
  3. Rain protection – for camera gear and person
  4. Hard drives to store imagery and footage

Having a DSLR is recommended as certain topics will require a fully manual camera to learn. If however, you do not own a DSLR, FPI will provide 3 DSLR’s available for participants to use in particular tour modules. Please email us at info@fieldprojects.org if you wish to reserve one of these cameras.

Other optional camera equipment:

  1. Flashes/speedlights
  2. Binoculars
  3. Zoom lens
  4. Tripod (for moonlight photography)

 

Group Size4 nights6 nights8 nights
1 participant$2195$2695$3195
2 participants$1995$2495$2995
3 participants$1695$2195$2695
4 participants$1495$1995$2495

*Note: All prices reflect per-head costs with housing in a shared dormitory. To upgrade lodgings to twin rooms add $100 per head to above fee. To upgrade to twin cabins, add $200 per head to above fee. 

Single Supplement: If you do not want to share a room with another participant during the tour, a single extra fee will be applied to your tour cost. This fee varies by lodging option and tour length. Please contact info@fieldprojects.org for a quote. 

The fee for this tour is listed in the table above, and includes the following:

  • Food and lodging for the entire workshop.
  • Transportation to and from Puerto Maldonado to the field site.
  • Experienced instructors and field equipment.

This workshop fee does NOT include:

  • International travel to Peru.
  • Travel or health insurance (proof of health insurance is required for workshop attendance).
  • Rubber boots, binoculars, flashlight and insect repellent (all of which are required to take this workshop).
  • A camera

Things to remember:

  • Adding more participants to the tour reduces the per-head cost for each participant
  • Spouses/partners are welcome but must pay the same participant cost
  • If you want to add a boat-trip (included in longer tours) to your tour, we are happy to discuss such customisations of your experience. 
  • In your registration for the tour, we will ask you if you mind doing the tour with others. If not, we can add others to your tour and lower the tour costs for you by issuing a refund.

We provide an option to obtain financial assistance for attending this photo-tour:

  • Fundraising: FPI can now provide a peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform for all photo tour participants. You will be able to make your own fundraising page to share with your contacts and social networks. At the end of the fundraising period, FPI will issue a discount code to you for 100% of the funds that you have raised. You would then enter this code as you make your final tour payment. If you raise enough to cover all (or part) of your initial reservation fee, you would be refunded that portion as well. Please note that funds raised in excess of your tour fees will be rolled into our scholarship fund. Also, if you withdraw from the tour at any time, your donors cannot be refunded. In this case, all of those funds would also roll over into our scholarship fund for students. To set up this option, please register for a tour, first, and then contact us at info@fieldprojects.org to set up your fundraising page.

Please read our cancellation policy carefully before registering for this tour:

  • $100 of your deposit made during registration is a processing fee that is nonrefundable under any circumstances.
  • The deposit is due at the time of registration
  • The final photo session fee is due within 14 days of registration, during which we can iron out any tour customisations you might want to make.
  • If you cancel on or before 60 days before your tour start date, we will refund all tour fees paid in full (except for the processing fee of $100).
  • If you cancel your reservation between 60 and 45 days prior to your tour start date, you will be refunded 40% of your tour fee.
  • Tour fees cannot be refunded for cancellations made after 45 days before the tour start date.
  • If one of the members of your group cancels, the remaining members must then pay any outstanding fees per head before we will provide any refunds to the canceling participant.
  • If FPI has to cancel your photo tour due to mitigating reasons, a full refund of all fees paid, including the registration fee, will be made available to all participants.
  • Early departures from the photo tour are not entitled to a refund for any reason.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t find the answers you are looking for below, please contact us.

Preparing to travel to Peru

Do I need a visa for Peru?

Every country has different requirements for visitors, depending on their citizenship. Tourist visas are free for US citizens and are available upon entry (see the US State Department’s information on travel to Peru here). For all other nationalities, please check here for your specific requirements. It is possible that you will have to apply for a visa at your local embassy before you arrive in the country so please confirm your visa requirements early. Visa applications can take as long as 6 weeks sometimes, during which your passport will need to be with the embassy in question. 

One further thing to consider is the visa requirements of any country you are transiting through. For example, flying from Asia into Peru can be done via Europe, or via the UK, Canada or USA, which require transit visas.  So when you consider purchasing a flight, please look at the visa requirements of any stops along the way.

What should I bring with me?

Download a packing list here. Please read sections below for explanations for each item as well.
How do I deal with Peruvian money?

The currency in Peru is the Peruvian Nueve Sol. We say 1 “sol” and many “soles”. The currency exchange rate is ~ 2.7 soles to 1 USD.  Changing US dollars in Peru is a difficult thing to do; you will need to bring brand new,high-denomination bills, without any blemishes on them, for a bank to exchange them for you. You can find currency exchanges easily in the airport in Lima as well as in Lima city. In Puerto Maldonado you will have to change currency at a bank (so keep in mind bank working weeks and hours). Thus, the easiest way to get money is to use an ATM via a credit or debit card.

Things to consider: Bring two cards, in case one doesn’t work. Test that your pins work on both of your cards before you come to Peru. You can use an ATM in Lima, Cusco or Puerto Maldonado very easily. The most you can withdraw in a single day from an ATM is 700 soles or ~$260. ATM charges can apply, including conversion fees, so check with your bank about that. Withdrawing from an ATM is convenient, and prevents you from carrying around a lot of cash, which is always a much safer way to travel.

Traveler’s checks are entirely a thing of the past – just don’t buy them!

You do not need to have cash on you at the station except for possibly 100-200 soles at the very most, for emergencies. There’s nothing to buy, no stores to spend it on; cash, in short, is irrelevant in the rainforest. You only need enough to allow you to return back to town in comfort.

What's the lowdown on footwear?

You will require gumboots (aka wellingtons or muck boots), which are knee-high rubber boots. These are essential for all activities, every day at the station. You can bring these from home or buy them in Puerto Maldonado. If you have unusually large feet, don’t risk it and please buy your boots at home. Select a natural colored or black pair, if possible. You will wear these boots every single day while you are in the forest, so if you’re bringing them from home, break them in if you can. If you have sensitive feet with arch trouble, please bring insoles for your boots.

A pair of sneakers will come in handy during your travels and for use while at the camp itself. You will never wear flip-flops at camp, for your own safety. You may, however, prefer to bring a pair so that you can wear them to — or in — the shower.

What kind of luggage should I use?

Pack in something you can carry on your shoulders. Suitcases are not very practical (though people have managed with them). We recommend bringing a big duffel bag, or a backpack with most of your things in it. Try to make it waterproof, or buy some kind of waterproof cover. In the worst case scenario, though, you can put your whole bag in a giant plastic bag to keep it dry once you get to Puerto Maldonado. You’ll also need a small daypack when on site, preferably with compartments to hold your camera gear.

What do I need in the forest?

The most important things you need in the forest that we will NOT be providing are your daypack, a water bottle, insect repellent, rain jacket or poncho, and an optional pair of binoculars. Additionally, a laptop (not a Chromebook) can be extremely helpful. Check your packing list for more details. In addition, some things to consider bringing include a penknife (check it in, don’t hand carry – it will get caught), a bandana or hat, and some kind of energy bar as an extra snack.

What about battery-operated equipment?

You will need to use a battery-operated headlamp with LEDs on this course. This headlamp will be your best friend and is useful since it is hands-free. If you’re interested in seeing wildlife at night, bring one that is bright and that has a red light option, as the red light scares nocturnal animals a lot less. Headlamps will need batteries and we strongly suggest that you bring rechargeable batteries with you.  This means that you must also obtain a small battery charger. If you can’t and have to bring regular batteries, please buy energy efficient ones so you use as few as possible, since you will have to take all batteries back with you and recycle them (you cannot leave them at the field station).

Do I need a watch or alarm clock?

Yes. Make sure that you have something extremely reliable as an alarm clock – whether you use your phone or watch is up to you. 

How do I care for my passport and papers?

Passports are valuable items that you want to protect from mold in the rainforest. The best way to do this is to put them in small ziplock bags and then leave them entirely alone.  Do the same with any cash you bring with you also. Paper gets moldy very quickly.

What is the weather like at these field stations?

The weather at the Los Amigos field station is typically warm and pleasant (~24C or 75F). However, the boat ride to the station can be damp and also cold. Therefore, you have to pack for both warm and cool weather. 

What medications should I bring?

The field stations and the tour staff do not provide any medications to participants. As such, you must bring a small medical kit for minor issues:

– A course of broad-spectrum antibiotics (ciprofloxacin is a common and effective one)

– A course of antibiotics for digestive trouble, and a small number of pills of immodium (to be used in emergencies only)

– Electrolyte/rehydration packs (hint: the juice flavoured ones are much nicer than the medical ones)

– Anti-fungal cream/powder (effective on yeast), particularly if you are prone to these infections

– Anti-itch medication: over-the counter lotions are ok

– Camphorated alcohol – a local anti-itch/disinfecting method that we highly recommend  (can be purchased in Puerto Maldonado)

– Antacids to comfort your stomach

– Band aids, tweezers

–  An Epi pen if you are allergic to anything at all

– Antihistamines to be taken in case of mild allergies (something like Claritin/ Zyrtec)

– A venom extraction kit: these are useful in case of wasp or bee stings.

What vaccinations do I need?

You will have to provide proof of a normal vaccination record (as listed here by the CDC). For travel to Peru, we require that you also get the following vaccines: Typhoid (oral or injectable), Yellow Fever, and Tetanus. If you have the flu shot for the year, all the better. Find a travel clinic and get your shots EARLY.

What about health and safety?

We take the health and safety of all participants very seriously.  We look out for each other and take care of our tours. The field sites have stringent protocols on safety procedures in the case of an emergency that we are obliged to follow.  From Los Amigos, should anyone need medical help, they can be transported downriver to town in a matter of three hours, where they can be treated or evacuated to Lima for treatment. For specific emergency protocols, please contact us at info@fieldprojects.org.

Neither the field station nor Field Projects International will be responsible for costs associated with medical emergencies. Before being accepted to the program, participants must submit a brief medical history evaluation. This is not meant to discriminate against people, but instead to protect them from being in a situation where they are at a serious or life-threatening disadvantage.

All participants must sign a participation contract, without which participants cannot attend any FPI programs. We make special references to an alcohol policy in our participation contract – we have a zero tolerance policy at this field station. You will also sign a sexual and gender-based misconduct contract (and so will your tour instructor). This is not to suggest that this issue is a problem at this field site in particular. However, there has been a large amount of reporting on these matters in the press of late, and we want to assure you that we take any such violations extremely seriously. We want our participants to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

Field Station Amenities

Do I need to bring linens and towels?

The stations will provide you with sheets during your stay. However, we strongly encourage you to bring a spare towel for use while one is in the wash or drying. 
How do I care for electronics at the field stations?

We strongly encourage you to bring your laptops on this course, as well as your cell phones. They will come in handy for data entry, entertainment, assignments and for checking email. Due to the intermittent/slow nature of the internet, Chromebooks are not recommended.

Electronics have to be treated differently in the rainforest than you would anywhere else. Do not bother to bring a soft sleeve for the laptop with you, because it will suck up moisture from the air and will envelop your laptop in it, which is bad news. We find that simple plastic ziplock bags work better than sports dry bags. We recommend that you purchase at least two ziplock bags that are large enough to fit your computer. You can also purchase silicon gel packages online (Amazon Smile or Jake’s Silica Gel are good places to try, along with local stores like REI). Put a couple of 5-gram packets inside the ziplock with your computer and bring at least 2 more packets with you.

Peru uses a different set of plugs than the U.S. or England. The field sites, however, will have extension cords and power strips that accept US plugs. If you want to plug things in while you travel, though, you might consider picking up a small converter for your electronics that will fit plugs in Peru (see here for a full explanation). The Peruvian system uses 220 volts, instead of 120/140 volts as in the U.S. Please CHECK your electronics to make sure they are compatible before plugging them in at the station or anywhere in Peru. If they don’t work at both voltages, you will need to bring a step up converter such as this one.  Also, note that you will not find three-pronged sockets in most places, so definitely at least bring a three-to-two prong modifier (such as this) for your electronics.

Electricity at the field stations will be provided via a generator for a period of time each day, during which you will charge your electronics as needed. You may certainly bring solar chargers if you feel the need to, but most of the day you will not be using your electronics at all.

Do not bring a hair dryer, electric razor, or electric toothbrush because those are very much considered an unnecessary luxury at this site. We will prioritize charging absolutely everything else over those items.

Is there internet at the field stations?

Internet access at the field station is wireless but can be slow. This means that smartphones, iPads, tablets, and computers of all kinds should be able to connect to the internet, but sending emails with images is going to be tough. We strongly recommend that you do not rely on it to be available to you every day. Sending an email once every three days or so is a reasonable estimate to provide to your family. See the section on phones to learn about other ways in which to communicate with home from the field station.
Is there phone service at the field station?

The best way to stay in touch with your family is on your phone. The phone network accessible at Los Amigos is called “Claro.” Contact your cell service provider and make sure that you can pick up Claro service while in Peru. Then, purchase an international calling plan, pre-paid minutes, or some kind of international texting plan. This will allow you to communicate with your family at home, as and when you want.

Things to consider: If your phone is not compatible with Claro, you can rent a cell phone in the Lima airport with a local number. You can communicate by services like Whatsapp while you are in Puerto Maldonado because your hostel has wireless internet service, but remember that the internet can often be slow or inaccessible at the field station.

How do I do laundry at the field stations?

You will do your own laundry at the field station if you stay long enough to need it, so bring (preferably) biodegradable laundry detergent from the US with you. You don’t need a lot of it, so a 10 oz bottle of liquid or a small packet of powder should be more than enough for the duration of your stay. You can purchase nonbiodegradable detergent as well as clothespins (to secure your washing to a line for drying) in the Puerto Maldonado market.

What is the risk of disease in the Amazon rainforest?

This is the Amazon rainforest, and as with all tropical areas, there are disease risks. Unlike towns, however, this field station does not hold enough people to serve as constant reservoirs for many diseases.

Malaria is not a major concern, and none of our principal researchers or team members take malaria prophylactics. Your travel doctor will most likely disagree because their information is about the region in general, and it is true that malaria can be contracted in Puerto Maldonado. As such, the choice to take malaria prophylactics is entirely personal – if you feel better about it, take the medication. FPI offers no recommendation or medical advice whatsoever.

In recent years, there have been a few cases of dengue at this site, although it is hard to verify whether researchers have contracted it in town or at the field station. There is no vaccine, but there are cures – we remain watchful for this disease.

Leishmaniasis is a tropical disease that is found at this site – and several researchers have contracted it in past years. It is not a painful disease, but it can be unpleasant if left untreated. As such, if any participant receives a bite that does not heal in a week, we advise them to get tested locally. This has worked for everybody in treating leishmaniasis early and will be the rule for our team at this field site. In short, any misgivings you may have about using high concentration DEET are significantly outweighed by the unpleasantness of leishmaniasis. Treatment for leishmaniasis can be obtained in Peru or abroad at a travel/CDC clinic.

The recent Zika outbreak is of concern in much of Latin America, although a great deal is still not known about this virus. Since Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are the primary vectors of the virus, we again recommend DEET to prevent bites. For much more detailed information, please see the next section in this FAQ.

Chiggers are annoying but do not carry disease. They are small mites of the family Trombiculidae (also known as harvest mites) that can cause you some irritation at Los Amigos. They cause small welts, like mosquito bites, that can itch very badly. They clear up quickly, and there are rarely any scars. Using insect repellent can help in preventing these bites. Also avoid directly on the ground, and tuck your shirt into your pants. Wearing the tall rubber boots will also help greatly. FYI, the mites are 1/60th of an inch long (nearly invisible to the naked eye) and are long gone by the time the bites start itching.

How concerned are you about the Zika virus?

A great deal is still not known about this virus, which is spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. There is a possible link to a condition called microcephaly in children born to infected women. While mosquitoes are the primary vector of the virus, the virus can be sexually transmitted.

The CDC’s travel advisories for pregnant women have extended to Peru, suggesting that participants who are pregnant — or likely to be pregnant at the time of the course — use caution. There is currently no evidence of any effect on future births for those who are not pregnant at the time of infection, and only around 20% of all infected people exhibit even the minor symptoms of Zika (fever, rash, etc.). There is an additional suspected link to a rare but more severe condition called Guillain-Barré, however, this risk is exceedingly low.

The Peruvian government is taking numerous proactive measures to prevent the spread of Zika within the country. These include the use of ovitraps to identify the virus in mosquitoes at many monitoring sites around the country, allowing for a swift response if detected.

This is a developing story, and much is still unknown regarding the transmission and health risks of this virus. We recommend that each prospective participant determine their own comfort levels by weighing the available data against their own relative risk. At this point, FPI’s non-pregnant investigators and other staff remain confident about safely returning to the field.

To reduce mosquito bites, we recommend repellents with DEET as the active ingredient, along with loose-fitting clothing and long-sleeves. Clothing may also be treated with permethrin. Furthermore, mosquito bed nets are provided at the field station.

Read more:

General information from the CDC

CDC travel advisories

Discussion of Zika (Cosmos Magazine)

 

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