Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By hiking the trail, you’ll get to see smaller ruin sites and follow the path Incans took for centuries, arriving at Machu Picchu right at sunrise. Because of the high altitude and difficult trail conditions, though, having the right gear is essential! Packing for the Inca Trail is serious business because if you forget to pack something important, you’ll regret it; but equally, if you pack too much, you’ll resent the extra weight. One of the essential things before setting off for one of the most famous hikes in the world is to decide what you need to pack for Inca Trail with you and what gear you can leave behind. Check out our ultimate packing list for the Inca Trail.
THINGS TO KNOW
First, the weather in the Peruvian mountains is unpredictable at any time of the year, and although your chances to enjoy sunny and dry conditions during the trek are higher from April to October, you should always be prepared for all possibilities. Chilly nights, warm days, cloudy and foggy times, and rain - these are in short challenges you will need to deal with, and because hiking the Inca Trail is for many once in a lifetime experience, you should pack light and smart to make your adventure unforgettable for a good reason. Remember that there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear.
You have to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with an authorized travel company, which means you will have porters to carry the heavier items for the trek. That means you need to pack your stuff into a duffle bag which will be carried by them, and you will carry a daypack along the trail. There is a weight limit for the duffle bag of 6 kilograms per person including the sleeping bag. (each company has its regulations, so always check this before you start packing).
Last but not least, the altitude makes the Inca Trail trek even more challenging, and if you start to feel bad, it is definitely not the time you do not need to worry about a wrongly packed day pack.
Passport - Before we start with clothes, toiletries, and electronics packing essentials, there is one thing you cannot by any means leave behind. Even before the trek starts, make sure that your passport is securely stored in your daypack - The Inca Trail is the most controlled trek in Peru, and carrying your passport is absolutely necessary to have with you.
Walking Sticks - Regardless of how young or old you are, and no matter if you've never used them before, hiking poles are almost essential for the Inca Trail because the terrain with hundreds of stone steps is pretty challenging.
Good walking boots - Boots suitable for uneven ground and steep, sometimes slippery steps, and for rain or warm weather. Make sure you break these in before you start the trail
Walking socks - 1 for each day of the trek
Long sleeve trekking tops – one per day. These are made of a material that pulls sweat away from your body so it can evaporate more easily – therefore, your clothes feel less damp and heavy.
Two pairs of hiking trousers.
Two pairs of leggings/ Yoga Pants
Underwear (you decide!)
Warm fleece with a hood for cold evenings and exposed mountain passes; you could substitute the hood for a woolly hat.
Rain poncho or Waterproof & windbreaking jacket in case it rains (also useful for chilly evenings at the campsite).
Sun hat & sunglasses
Shorts or leggings & T-shirt for camp, which could double as something to sleep in (basically something which will be dry and comfy, should you get wet on the trail).
Cash - For tipping your guide, the cook, and the porters (your tour operator can advise what the going rate is), plus there are a couple of places to buy extra snacks on days 1 and 2 and also in Machu Picchu itself. Carry small denominations and in local currency
A comfortable day pack with a waterproof cover - The lighter the better! This is to carry the essential items for each day´s trekking
Refillable Water bottle – Ideally one you can fit in your day pack pocket, for ease of carrying
Basic First aid kit, including plasters for blisters, which is your most likely ailment on the Inca Trail
Sunscreen & SPF Chapstick
Torch, ideally a headlamp -For evenings at the campsites, as there will be barely any other light. If you need to leave your tent.
Snacks - You will be given snacks each day by the trek operator, but it is always nice to reward yourself after a hard day´s trekking with your favorite chocolate bar or snack.
Camera / Phone - You won’t get a signal on the trail, but you’ll want to take photos!
Toothbrush & toothpaste
Flannel, soap, deodorant & waterproof bag - In the absence of showers, you will be making do with a bucket of water for personal hygiene, so a flannel will come in handy
Any prescription medications.
Packing bags / dry bags. (Ziplocs)- These are so handy! These are waterproof, sealable bags you can use to separate items within your pack.
Shampoo & shower gel
Sleeping bag liner
Battery Charger & connector for phone
Altitude sickness remedies -Coca Leaves offer a natural energy boost and are nice to share with the hard-working porters! You will be offered coca tea by the porters at meal stops.
If you are still unsure about what to pack for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, ask us here!