Essential Packing List for Hiking Machu Picchu

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You've decided to visit Machu Picchu. Fantastic! It will be the adventure of a lifetime! Now on to the next important decision: what should you pack? It can be quite difficult to decide on what to bring in the limited space offered by your suitcase, but that's what we're here to help with.

Before we get to the proper list, there are a few important concepts that we should cover. First, predicting the weather in the Andes is like trying to win the lottery. Your odds of guessing correctly aren't good, so don't lean one way or the other, such as packing your heavy parka or a pair of sandals, but instead pack a small amount of items that you can layer on each other. If you're blessed with a warm day, you'll only need your first layer. If you get stuck in a cold storm, you can throw on your other layers and lighten your backpack considerably. Second, this might be common sense, but don’t bring any hard suitcases. Soft luggage, such as backpacks or duffel bags, is strongly recommended. You, or another friendly person or beast, will be carrying your luggage. Don't make it any more awkward and burdensome than it already will be. Finally, review or solicit the suggestions of the tour operator you may be working with. In our case, we worked with Mountain Lodges of Peru, who carried our main luggage ahead on horses and donkeys, and also provided lodging so we didn't need to worry about tents and sleeping bags, etc. Our list won't cover some of those bigger items, only the things you'll need for your person. That said, the following items are essential, not only for your safety, but your comfort.

  • Day pack. We chose the Osprey Manta, as it provided enough room for our layers and snacks, plus hydration packs, so we had everything we needed for a full day of hiking.

  • Broken-in, comfortable hiking boots

  • Socks suitable for your boots (at least 4-5 pairs, and I also like to wear two pairs as it helps to avoid blisters)

  • Rain gear (This light, breathable, packable jacket from Columbia is one of our favorites)

  • Pants (We really like these pants from Columbia. They repel water and stains, have UPF sun protection, and are lightweight, breathable, and stretchy, meaning they’re very comfortable. You can even dress them up with some a nice shirt and shoes if you have to, or wear them for a comfortable day on the golf course!)

  • Shirts (Again preferably lightweight and breathable)

  • Long-sleeve sweater or fleece. Wear on it’s own, or as an extra layer for warmth. (We used this one from Columbia. It’s light, warm, and easy to layer)

  • Jacket (We took this jacket, also from Columbia, as it’s light, easy to layer, provides great insulation from wind and cold, and repels water)

  • A couple pairs of base-layers to go under your pants, for those days at high elevation

  • Wool hat

  • Hat for shade

  • Headlamp

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunscreen (We recommend Countersun Mineral Sunscreen from Beautycounter. Safe for you, safe for the environment)

  • Bathing suit (for those glacier lakes!)

  • Insect repellent

  • Camera & Chargers

  • Re-fillable water bottle

  • Trekking poles (note that these are NOT allowed within Machu Picchu, but are extremely useful on the trails)

  • Toiletries (including toilet paper as it doesn't exist out on the trail, and moist wipes for basic cleaning without a shower)

  • Bandages for blister prevention

  • Small Snacks (note that food is NOT allowed within Machu Picchu, but you obviously want to be prepared while hiking the trails during the day)

That's it, you're ready to go, and with room in your luggage to spare for souvenirs! Remember to do your best to pack light, and enjoy your trip of a lifetime!