SierraRios trips: Food, Alcohol, Water, and Sanitation


Food will be planned and purchased before trips. On longer trips we may also resupply at various points (such as Chagual & Balsas on Río Marañón). You will have a say in what we decide to purchase and eat. Meat will usually be prepared separately. If you have specific food preferences or restrictions, please let the trip coordinator know. To have an idea of what types of food we often prepare, see below:

Breakfast: always available are: coffee, tea, milk, cereals, and fruits. Sometimes we'll have yoghurt and orange juice. Many mornings we'll prepare something special such as oatmeal, pancakes, breakfast burritos, french toast, or eggs, toast, hash-browns, bacon and/or sausage.

Lunch: Items typically available are trail mix, dried fruits, energy bars, chips, cookies, and sandwiches. Sandwiches can vary: ham/turkey, cheese, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, mayo; later maybe tunafish; always PB&J. Sometimes something different will be prepared (tabouli, pasta salad, chicken cous-cous, burritos, or various leftovers).

Dinner: Meat will always be prepared separate and there are always appetizers. While almost anything is possible, typical dinners are the following:
General (turkey, steak, and/or salmon; mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, gravy)
Mexican (tamales, chile rellenos, tacos, or burritos; with beans/tortillas/guacamole; chips/salsa or soup to start)
Italian (pasta with marinara or pesto sauce; sauteed squash/chorizo/meat/parmesan; salad or soup/garlic bread)
Indian (curried vegetables, lentils and/or various Tasty Bites; couscous or rice)
Chinese (rice and stir-fry veggies/meats; raman soup appetizer)
Thai (panang or curry with vegetables/meats; rice; tom yum soup appetizer)
Greek (kebabs, falafel, dolmas, pita and/or rice; olives, feta, Greek salad)

Peruvian (lomo saltado/ají de gallina/estofado with rice/soup)

Desserts: There will always be some form of sweet to eat – cookies, chocolates, flan, brownies, etc. On trips with large rafts, we will bring a Dutch Oven and often prepare brownies, cookies, cakes, and/or corn bread.

A standard range of prepared beverages is provided on all trips, usually consisting of milk/tea/coffee/juice/hot cocoa in camp, and Gatorade, iced tea, other drink mixes, or sodas in the afternoon and evening. Alcoholic beverages and canned beverages are not included in the quoted rates for trips. However, we can carry some for you - in general there will be a standard "alcohol/drink addition" that can be selected and paid for on a trip [usually including wine, cocktails, and a certain amount of canned beer or other beverage per day]. On trips with large rafts, we will likely have a dedicated ice cooler to chill some general drinks and canned beverages (though on longer trips, ice may completely melt away).

We will bring filters and treatment products and provide safe drinking water on the entire expedition. Our standard is a Katadyn Expedition filter (100 um ceramic unit). We always collect and purify CLEAR WATER. Rivers often run with a lot of silt and other contaminants and take more effort to convert to clear drinking water than many of the clear side streams. Arroyos with little or no habitation contain pristine water that is usually much safer to drink and doesn't clog filters. Thus we will usually collect water from springs and clear side streams. To assure clean drinking water, the most common method we use is to filter the water and then also treat with hypochlorite. However, we may also boil, use iodine, or use just filtration or just hypochlorite. Water will be transported in 5-gallon containers. You should bring your own water bottle (or two).

Water for dishwashing and sanitation will be collected from clear sources if possible. If silty river water must be used, often we will have alum along that allows silt to be settled out. This clearer water can then be treated with a bit of hypoclorite and used for washing/sanitizing (see below).

We will take precautions to make sure all water, food, and plates/bowls/utensils provided on the trip are free of microbes so you do not have to worry about it being the cause of traveller's diarrhea.  General guidelines that we will follow can be read at NPS Sanitation Guidelines.  We will disinfect drinking water with filtration and/or bleach and sanitize all dishes/utensils, food contact surfaces, and vegetables that are eaten raw. We use a light bleach solution at our handwash stations.  We will discard potentially harmful cooked food that has been sitting out for extended periods.  For apporpriate disinfection, the trip leader (or a designee) will be in charge of making sure the proper amounts of hypochlorite (bleach) are added to:

 drinking water supplies: water is commonly filtered (with Katadyn 100 um filter) and sterilized with 1 drop of bleach per gallon; if only bleach is used, we add 4-8 drops bleach/gallon (0.2-0.4 mL per gallon); let stand 30+ min (amount depends on quality/clarity of the water)

hand wash water in buckets (hypochlorite to 100 ppm): ~1.5 mL per liter; or ~6 mL per gallon; possibly more for silty water; note 5 mL = 1 teaspoon; a syringe or falcon tube will be available for measurement

dish sanitizing water SEE HERE (hypochlorite to 100 ppm: ~1.5 mL per liter or ~6 mL per gallon); possibly more for silty water; note 5 mL = 1 teaspoon; a syringe or falcon tube will be available for measurement

If for some reason a handwash station is not set up at lunch, we will have alcohol sanitization gel, which should be applied to every person's hands before handling food/etc.  

Also please note that you should always try to minimize your contact with foods that may be consumed by others. In particular, with chips/trail mix, DO NOT REACH YOUR HAND INTO THE BAG.  Rather, pour out the quantity that you want - into your hand - and leave the rest untouched for the next person to pour. Do not double dip your chips into salsa or other your bread into pestos/sauces - use the spoon or knife in the main dish/bottle. Do not share drinking bottles. Each person carries certain bacteria, viruses and protozoa that they are immune to, but other individuals may not have the same immunity to those microbes.