So, you’re about to embark upon one of the most incredible hiking trails in the world, but what do you need to pack for your journey to Machu Picchu?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…
Hiking Boots. Make sure these are well worn in, you do not want to do a 4-day hike in new boots as blisters will be inevitable.
Backpack. As you will be responsible for carrying your own bag on the Inca Trail, we advise all you take is a small waterproof backpack which is comfortable to wear and ideally has been designed for hiking.
Jacket. You will need a wind and rainproof jacket.
Layers. So important to bring layers! In the mornings and evenings it will be very chilly so you’ll need to wear enough layers that you can take some off when it warms up in the middle of the day. The best layered clothing fabric is wool as it allows moisture to escape. Avoid cotton and denim which absorb moisture.
Thermals. Take long johns and a thermal vest to sleep in as it gets incredibly cold at night.
Hat & Gloves. A warm beanie hat is perfect to wear during the cold mornings and evenings. Warm waterproof gloves are preferable.
Sun Hat & Sun Cream. The sun is much stronger at high altitudes, make sure you don’t get sunstroke by wearing a hat and apply sun cream with a very high SPF. Try and get a sweat-resistant sun screen such as P20 so that you don’t have to keep applying every 5 minutes. If your hat doesn’t have a neck cover, you might want to consider bringing a bandana to cover yourself.
Sunglasses. You need a good pair of sunglasses. At these heights, the UV intensity is high and can be damaging to your eyes.
General Clothing. Whatever clothing you bring needs to be comfortable, light and quick drying. We recommend good hiking trousers or sports gear that isn’t going to still be wet the next morning when you go to put it on! Bring both long and short sleeve tops.
Socks. Make sure you have at least enough for a fresh pair everyday… putting on smelly old socks is not pleasant. Make sure you take an extra pair to wear around the campsite too.
Sandals. You don’t understand how nice it will be to take your hiking boots off after a full days hiking, so make sure you’ve got something to slip into. Sandals are better than flip-flops because it means you can wear your socks with them… yes. Socks and sandals. We won’t judge.
Water Bottles. Canteen or Nalgene water bottles are perfect.
Headlamp. Very necessary for manoeuvring your way around camp after dark. Make sure you take batteries just in case. A torch you can hang from the top of your tent would also come in handy (TOP TIP – if you shine your torch through your water bottle, your whole tent will light up).
Toiletries. Mosquito/insect repellent… just because you’re up high doesn’t mean there won’t be any mosquitos! Anti-bacterial hand gel will come in very useful – as will face/wet wipes so you can take a ‘shower’. It’s also good to take lip balm for the temperature changes and biodegradable soap and shampoo.
Trekking Towel. As well as having the option to take a shower on day 3 of the trek, it is also nice to be able to dry yourself off in case of rain. Trekking towels are lightweight and fast-drying.
Blister Treatment. Plan for the unavoidable. Take blister plasters with you just in case.
Plastic Bag. Take one to have in your backpack to keep your worn clothes separate from your fresh clothes.
Camera & Memory Card. DO NOT FORGET YOUR CAMERA. Make sure it is fully charged before you set off, and if you don’t think it will last the full 4 days, consider taking a spare battery.
Medicine. Anything you would usually take, plus things like immodium, rehydration sachets and pain killers.
Snacks. It’s so important to get those calories in as you are hiking, and the altitude will probably reduce your appetite so even if you are not feeling that hungry… eat! Would recommend something sugary like a snickers bar or flapjack; something that will give you a burst of energy should you need it.
Sleeping Bag. Sleeping bags are not included, but can be rented for $45.00 for the duration if you would prefer not to bring your own. If you are bringing your own, we recommend a good sleeping bag suitable to stand up to cold weather.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner. If you are choosing to rent a sleeping bag, you might consider bringing your own sleeping bag liner. This will also give you a bit of extra warmth!
Pillow. Would recommend bringing a camping blow up pillow with you.
Cash. Make sure you carry enough cash (US$ is best) with you to tip the incredible porters that will be carrying all your camping equipment and cooking you breakfast, lunch and dinner for the duration. These people really are incredible – getting up earlier than you, carrying more than you, and doing the trail a lot faster than you – they deserve to be tipped at the end.
Other things you need to know:
Water. You need to keep hydrated. This is one of the most important things to know about hiking the Inca Trail. Boiled water will be provided for you each day, but you might want to take your own water purification tablets. If you are someone who gets dehydrated easily, you might consider taking something larger than a water bottle, like a hydration bladder.
Passport. You will need to take your passport with you to enter the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Keep it somewhere safe and dry in your backpack. You can also get a Machu Picchu stamp in your passport if you have enough pages – a little extra reminder that you’ve been to one of the world’s great wonders!
Travel Insurance. It’s also good to keep a copy of your travel insurance policy with you at all times, just in case. When you are purchasing travel insurance, make sure you are completely covered for this trek as a lot of travel insurance companies do not offer cover for altitudes of 2,000m or over.
Trekking Poles. Can be rented if you think you need them – let your guide know before you set off.
Training. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to accomplish the Inca Trail, but we do recommend you do some training before you go, such as doing some long hikes a couple of days in a row to prepare yourself.
Altitude Sickness. This is not uncommon on the Inca Trail and can affect anyone; there is no correlation between altitude sickness and age, fitness, or health, it just happens to some people and not to others. It is good to take preventative measures by getting something prescribed by your GP, or over the counter at the pharmacy. Peruvian’s also recommend drinking or eating the coca leaves or making tea from them, to help prevent the sickness.
Luggage. You will be able to store your bigger rucksacks or suitcases in Cusco, for an additional fee, so that you are only carrying the necessities and can travel lighter. The porters will carry the tents and heavy items, but you will be responsible for carrying your own backpack and personal items, so bear this in mind when packing!