Beyond The Amazon: Packing for Peru's Western Wilderness (part 5)



While camping in the wilderness of Peru's western Andean slopes our drinking and cooking water is almost always supplied from a spring, nearby streams or a river. This water is not suitable or safe to use as is. Human and animal waste entering upstream of us is the usual cause of the problem. Of course, springs can also be infected with cysts and other serious bacteria.

During our first expedition up the Rio Tocache Bryce (our son) accidentally swallowed water from the river while swimming. A few weeks later he had contracted Hepatitis, the least severe of this disease. It took several uncomfortable weeks for him to recover. Kathy has also had bad experiences from contaminated water, as have I. The local population seems to have developed an immunity to the nastiness there, but we suffer if we use it without first being purified. For us, water purification is a necessity and essential to the safe completion of our expedition.

Because all of our water we use must be thoroughly purified we each carry a personal water purification system to clean and sanitize the water rendering it completely safe to consume. We each have a filter, hand pumped cleaner, and a pocket SteriPen to sanitize the water in case we become separated.

During the first stage of purification water is filtered through gauze. Next, a solid ceramic filter removed sediment, cryptosporidium, cysts, and any lingering bacteria. Once these two steps are completed the water looks perfectly clear, though it is not yet safe to consume.The first two stages do nothing to eliminate viruses.
During the final stage a SteriPen eliminates all viruses and other waterborne pathogens. The Steripen employs a powerful UV light to kill off any residing elements that would make us sick. It really works well and is dependable.

Water is gathered with a collapsible vinyl bucket. Once purified it is stored in Nalgene containers.

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