THE ULTIMATE PACKING LIST FOR A TREK TO MACHU PICCHU
Packing for international travel is never easy. Oftentimes we either pack everything and the kitchen sink and end up with 3 extra pairs of pants, or we pack too little and have to improvise by wearing the same pair of socks 4 days in a row. While everyone has different needs during travel, we have compiled a suggested list of items for travelers coming to Peru to join us on one of our hikes to Machu Picchu or other incredible destinations.
Download a printable version here.
Immigration Card. You will receive this on the plane as you enter Peru, KEEP IT WITH YOU!
Cash for Tips (not required, but encouraged). Plan on $20-$75 USD per person. Our guides, porters and chefs are all compensated fairly by Kusa Treks. However, nearly all of our customers provide additional tips for our crew because of the incredible service they receive throughout the trek.
Cash for souvenirs, drinks, and snacks in Cusco and on the trail.
STUDENTS ONLY: Valid, GREEN ISIC card
Not too big, not too small, like Goldilocks. Something like this, Osprey Talon Backpack.
Daypacks can be any size for hiking, but we recommend that you bring a smaller sized bag. Bags that are larger than 25L are not allowed inside Machu Picchu. If you bring a bag larger than 25L you will simply need to rent a locker for your bag outside Machu Picchu (10 Soles).
You will carry all of the items throughout the day in this pack. This includes: 2-3L of water, snacks, rain poncho, camera, wet wipes, toilet paper, medicine, camera/phone, cash, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.
Large Bag or Suitcase
On your way to Peru you will want to pack most of your hiking equipment in a large bag or suitcase - including your clothes, hiking boots, toiletries, sleeping bag (if you choose not to rent one from us). You do not need to bring a tent or mess kit for meals. The night before your trek we will come to your hotel with duffel bags that you will fill with your personal items. You will transfer the personal items you'll need throughout the trek from your suitcase/bag to our duffel and you'll be able to store the suitcase at your hotel during your trek. Our Porters will carry these duffel bags throughout the trek. All of our treks prices, EXCEPT treks on the Inca Trail, include the cost of a Porter.
Our Porters will carry 19.8lbs (9kg) of your personal items, Porters are typically split between two trekkers, so each trekker can have 9.9lbs carried by a Porter. If you exceed 19.8lbs, you will be charged $10 for each additional pound.
INCA TRAIL ONLY: Hiring a Porter costs an additional $80/Porter. If you do not pay for a Porter you will be responsible for carrying all of your own personal items. we will carry your tent and the food/materials for meals.
Packing FOR CUSCO
We highly recommend that anyone going on a trek should arrive to Cusco at least 2 full days in advance of their hike to acclimatize to the elevation.
The very first thing you'll want to do when you get to Cusco is head to the City-Center, a short walk from most hotels, and exchange cash for the Peruvian Sole. We suggest exchanging at least $150-$200 USD/person in cash. You can exchange it back if you have extra Soles at the end of your trip.
PRO-TIP: Before you arrive in Peru, check the conversion rates using something like the XE Currency Converter. When you get to the City-Center you'll notice a lot of merchants that exchange money, find one with the closest rate to the one you saw prior to your trip.
In addition to cash you'll also need the following while you enjoy the sites of Cusco:
- 1 pair of travel pants/chinos
- 2-3 shirts
- Cash for meals, snacks and souvenirs/clothing that can be purchased in local markets
- Deck of cards or other games to play while you're taking it easy and acclimatizing
- You'll most likely feel the effects of the high altitude on your first day in Cusco. We suggest really taking it easy on this day, drink plenty of water and Coca Tea (served for free at most hotels). Eat plenty of small meals that are high in protein, kick back and read a book or play game, this is a vacation after all!
- PRO-TIP: If you're a light packer and want to wear your hiking clothes around Cusco, you should think about bringing Travel Laundry Detergent so you can wash your clothes in your hotel bathtub or sink the day prior to your hike.
Packing For the hike
- 2 hiking shirts. The key to a good hiking shirt is one that is lightweight and dries quickly. The weather in the Andes is unpredictable and subject to change from beautiful and sunny to cloudy and rainy in a matter of minutes. You don't want your clothes to stay soaked for hours after it stops raining, find a couple of shirts that are comfortable and dry quickly. Something like these:
1-2 pairs of Hiking Pants. Similar to the shirts, pants should be lightweight, comfortable and moisture wicking. We also suggest finding hiking pants that can convert to shorts easily, as you can get pretty warm after hiking up a mountain for a few hours. Also, look for pants with plenty of pockets:
3-4 sets of Undergarments, oddly enough there are undergarments specific to hiking. We'll let you be the judge here, as personal preference is usually the best guide to underwear, but here are some options that worked well for us. We suggest bringing 1 pair of thermal underwear to wear in your tent at night, the Andes get pretty cold when the sun goes down and it's important to dress in layers.
Comfortable hiking boots. Quite possibly the most important item you'll bring. If your feet hurt or get wet, it can make the entire hiking experience miserable. If you don't have a pair of hiking boots, finding the right pair takes effort - take the time to do some real research. You'll want to try on a few pairs to discover your personal preferences. Below are 2 solid options, I'll throw in an endorsement for Option 2, the Salomon GTX is an excellent hiking boot. They're lightweight, yet sturdy and truly waterproof, but again I would try on few a pairs of boots before purchasing - this is not a one-size-fits-all situation.PRO-TIP: If you are buying new hiking boots make sure to break them in. Consider walking/hiking in them for 5-10 miles in various terrain.
2-3 sets of hiking socks and 2-3 hiking sock liners. Most people understand the need for great hiking socks, but what saved my feet on the Inca Trail were hiking sock liners! You'll put the liners on first as a great sweat barrier between your foot and the actual sock, the liners help keep your feet dry and blister free!
Comfortable Campsite Footwear. After hiking for most of the day it's an incredible feeling to take off your hiking boots and slide your feet into something extremely comfortable and non-restrictive. They may look funny, but Crocs are my absolute go-to for giving my feet a break around the campsite. They are light, closed-toed, and comfortable.
PRO-TIP: bring a small container of Gold Bond or Baby Powder that you can sprinkle inside your Crocs before putting your bare feet in, you might get some weird looks from your fellow hikers, but your feet will thank you!
1 Fleece Jacket, The Cusco region of Peru has a very mild climate. The highs are usually around 70℉ (21℃) and the lows are close to freezing 32℉ (0℃). Once the sun goes down it can get pretty chilly and a mid-weight fleece jacket is the perfect thing to throw on around the campsite.
You can also purchase a handmade Alpaca wool sweater once you arrive in Peru for $5-10 (20-30 Peruvian Soles) depending on your bargaining skills.
1 Wool Hat (AKA Beanie). This is another item that you can find in the markets of Cusco made out of Alpaca Wool, that be can be purchased for cheap. Here is a good option.
1 Hiking Hat. This is to wear while you're on the trail throughout the day. Ideally, you'd like something that can protect your face, neck and ears as you'll be hiking at a very high elevation. Something like this: Columbia Sun Hat
Neck Cover/Sun Protection. Again, you'll be hiking at a very high elevation, as a result, exposed skin is more likely to get burned. In addition to a hat, we suggest bringing something to keep your neck and ears covered. I found a Buff to be extremely useful, I would get it wet with cold water at the beginning of the day and it would stay cool until lunch, when I would soak it again to help keep me cool and covered all day. We would suggest getting a Buff or something similar.
The following gear is necessary. Items with a price listed are available to rent from Kusa Treks. The links below are examples of the type of gear you can rent from us, otherwise you will need to bring it with you. About half our trekkers will rent their gear - trekking poles being the most popular rented item in our experience.
Sleeping bag ($25)
Therm-a-Rest (higher quality air mattress to sleep on) ($20)
2 Trekking Poles ($20)
Personal Tent ($30) - The tents we provide are intended to be shared between 2 trekkers, if you would like your own tent you can rent one from Kusa Treks or bring your own.
Waterproof Rain Jacket
Camera, Phone or GoPro for pictures
PRO-TIP: You can also consider bringing a Solar Charger to recharge your phone or camera batteries on the trail
Gear you WILL NOT need to bring:
Meal materials (food for meals, utensils, plates, cups, bowls, etc.)
Basic Sleeping pad
Shared Tent for 2
- Clean Water
Plan to bring at least 2L of water for the first morning of the trek. We will supply clean water at each meal for the rest of the trek.
Camelbaks are strongly encouraged and should be able to hold at least 2-3 Liters.
Water Bottle, like a Nalgene.
PRO-TIP: Bring powdered drink mixes to pour into your Nalgene, something with electrolytes, like these Gatorade Powder Packets.
Favorite snacks. Don’t go overboard on this - Each day of the hike we will provide 3 professionally prepared meals, along with 1 afternoon snack. You won't need a ton of extra food, but we encourage hikers to carry some energy rich snacks to keep your momentum up during the trek:
Our crew will have a range of medical supplies in the event of an emergency. We do encourage you to bring your own personal Hiking First Aid kit for minor incidents that can occur while hiking, such as scrapes or blisters. In addition you should plan on bringing the following personal items:
Insect Repellent, this Ben's stuff is the real deal!
Toothbrush and paste
Biodegradable Toilet Paper (preferably wipes)
If you have any questions about the items on this list or other items you think you'll need, please reach out to us! We're happy to provide direction and listen to suggestions!