Water - trekkingchile


Water is life

Be smart and only use drinking water from streams and never from lakes or other stagnant water.

Indicators for contaminated water are green ropy algae’s, malodour or foam. In case there is no water at your disposal, or if you doubt the cleanness do boil the water for several minutes. Don’t worry about high altitudes; here most germs are killed at 70 °C. You could also treat the water with chemicals like silver ions, chlorine or iodine. The virus filters you can buy in trade are sufficient and very effective for smaller water quantities, however with large quantities those filters do take too long.

On longer mountain hikes in the Atacama Desert there is hardly any drinking water available. Many streams are contaminated with heavy metal due to the volcanic activities. For that reason all the drinking water has to be carried along. This can result in a transporting problem when calculating with 5 litres a day per person. As the temperatures in the Andes are quite low the drinking water, stored in barrels (or 5 litres cans from the supermarket), will stay drinkable for several weeks. As precaution one can also add silver ions.

Regular plastic canisters should not be used. They contain diluents which are harmful for your health and also give off quite a strong taste.

Glacier water hardly contains any minerals. When drinking this water the body tries to absorb these minerals, in order to do so it deprives minerals to such an extend that it is almost isotonic. To avoid this, one should only drink glacier water with mineral containing supplements.

If it is necessary to melt snow, press the snow to the bottom of the pot. For further smelting, do leave a bit of warm water in the pot and continue with melting the snow, this procedure is quite energy-saving.

On expeditions it is crucial to have drinking water and hot tea at hand in the kitchen tent. A well hydrated body is capable of achieving more. A guiding level is 4 to 5 litres of fluidity per day. At a high altitude it is important to constantly drink small amounts, even if you are not feeling thirsty.

It is advisable to drink small amounts (250 ml) of warm fluids. These are better suited than cold ones, as the body would take up additional energy to heat it up. Fluids low on sugar but high on minerals have the highest effect of quenching the thirst.

Do not rinse your dishes in a stream or lake. The left-over will contaminate the water and will thus make it useless for the follower. Dirty dishes should always be rinsed in a plastic bowls; the used water should then be disposed on soil.