Tsimane – The Preparation

Well here I am, seven days away from departure to the heart of Bolivia, and a little place called Tsimane.  For those unfamiliar, Tsimane is the name of a two lodge operation located in the Secure (pronounced securay) National Park, home to the Tsimane people.  It is undoubtedly the finest place in the world to fly fish for golden dorado and pacu.

My invite to host this trip came way back twelve months ago, and I’ve spent each of those months piecing together all the gear I will need for this trip.  Not just rod, reels, and flies, but everything else, from a wading staff, to a new rod case, to Immodium.  I have it all, and finally think I’m ready.

In preparations for these trips, your handy-dandy booking agent (that would be me), or the outfitter send you a packing list.  This typically has 95% of the gear you will need for your adventure.  The other 5% can be a challenge to figure out, but by reading other peoples’ blogs on the web, you can get a pretty decent idea.  In this case, items like Lotrimin were omitted, but thanks to past knowledge of wet wading, I know you must take care of your feet or they won’t take care of you.  Think of it as a prophylactic, rather than a treatment.

Anyway, the list provided to me by our friends at Untamed Angling (operator at Tsimane) was very detailed… right down to the number of each different fly you should bring, so I knew what I needed pretty much from the start.

Speaking of the start, there’s a pretty standard timeline that one should follow in bookings and I thought I would share it…

Date of booking (ideally 6-12 months prior to the trip)

  • Submit your deposit.
  • Fill out the questionairre provided by the outfitter and return it.
  • Book your flights (ideal time to book flights from a price standpoint is about 9 months prior to travel).
  • Consider trip insurance (many policies require you to purchase it within a few days of your booking).
  • Verify your passport is valid for at least 6 months following your return date.
  • Verify you have enough blank pages in your passport.
  • Check on visa requirements.
  • Receive and go over the pretrial planner provided by your agent or outfitter.
  • Check on and schedule any necessary vaccinations required for travel (also get your prescriptions for any emergency meds you want to take along with you).
  • Print the recommended packing list and see what is needed (also check on baggage weight restrictions).
  • Start reading blogs from others that have been on the trip.  It’s great to get the opinions on packing from someone that has been there!!!

90 days prior to departure

  • Submit the final balance due to the outfitter.
  • Again, check passport to verify there are no validity issues.
  • Follow up with the doctor about any boosters needed for vaccinations (many require two shots spaced out between 2 months).
  • Go back over the packing list to see what is left that you need to purchase/borrow.
  • Set up a group meeting for all parties going on the trip to discuss details of your adventure.  Begin thinking about ideal roommates if you are in a shared rooming situation.
  • Practice, practice, practice!!!  Whether its working on your double haul cast, or sighting in your rifle, this is the time to begin getting prepared.
  • Renting items such as a sat phone or a camera lens?  This is the latest you should reserve them.
  • Try to begin learning some of the language of the country you are visiting.  Not a full vocabulary, but some greetings and short phrases.  Locals tend to appreciate when you at least make an effort to speak in their native tongue.
  • Consider whether your trip requires medical evacuation insurance and purchase it.

30 days prior to departure

  • Begin checking the weather and fishing/hunting reports online.  These may alter what gear you need to pack.
  • Verify the airlines haven’t changed anything since booking.  This happens often without them notifying you!!!  Also make sure you are happy with your seat assignment.
  • Start to lay out a pile of the gear you are taking and the bags they will go in.
  • Last chance to order any last second gear.
  • Check the State Department website for any travel alerts about the country you are visiting.  Its a great resource for health and safety notices.

7 Days prior to departure

  • Pack your bags with everything but items you will need prior to traveling and weigh them.
  • Again, check that passport
  • Go over that packing list once again to verify you haven’t missed anything.

Well that’s it in a nutshell.  I’m sure there are other items that could pop up, but if you do these things you will have fewer hiccups and a better trip.

So back to my trip…  This will be my first big trip in the last couple of years.  Having a two and three year-old at home have altered my travel plans, but I am certainly not complaining.  That said, I am very excited about this adventure, and will be doing by best to blog from the jungle (assuming my satellite internet cooperates).  Stay tuned on the A&H website, or follow me on twitter at @mattymointx to get the latest satellite tracking coordinate and fishing reports.

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