Wondering what to pack for the Inca Trail? Read on to find out exactly what you should pack for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, written by a Peru travel expert at SouthAmerica.travel.
Every adventure seeker traveling to Peru should mark his steps on the Inca footpaths that wind through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the city hidden between the mountains and sky: Machu Picchu. Covering 43 km (26.7 miles) in four days to reach the Sun Gate, the Inca Trail Trek ends with a spectacular view of the Citadel of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is an unforgettable experience that rewards trekkers with breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains, green valleys, rivers, and Inca archeological sites to explore. The important thing is to be well-prepared to fully enjoy it.
First, you have to keep in mind that access to the Inca Trail is limited to 500 people per day including guides, porters, and cooks, so it’s essential to book the Inca Trail well in advance. Once you have your spot secured, you will need to know what are the luggage regulations and what to pack for the Inca Trail trek. If the Inca Trail is full for the time when you want to travel, there are several Alternative Inca Trail Treks that are also great options.
Before the trek starts, you will be provided with a special bag where you can store your sleeping bag, clothes and personal belongings. It may weigh up to 5kg (11 lbs) and, together with trek equipment and food, it will be carried by your porters. The only thing you need to have with you is a small day pack that will carry everything you need during the daily trek, such as water, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, and some snacks (all meals are included).
Don’t worry about the rest of your luggage. You may leave it in your hotel in Cusco where it will be waiting for you to pick it up for your next Peruvian adventure.
The recommended list of what to pack for the Inca Trail includes:
- Sleeping Bag This can be rented in Cusco for about $15 USD if you don’t want to bring your own, and your could purchase a thin liner at home. Make sure that the sleeping bag is suitable for cold Andean nighttime temperatures (-10°C) . Your porter will carry the sleeping bag for you.
- Sleeping Pad This can also be rented in Cusco.
- Daypack or Rucksack A daypack for holding your own supplies such as clothing, water, snacks, and camera
- Rain Jacket For frequent rain showers, especially during the wet season from December to March. Plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco for about $1 USD. Also a fleece sweater works well underneath a waterproof shell, to keep you warm.
- Good Footwear such as hiking boots, preferably waterproof. Make sure you’ve worn them in well; don’t bring brand new shoes. Also bring wool socks, which stay warm even when wet and dry quickly.
- Water bottle or Camelback and water treatment tablets, such as Micropur, which can be purchased in Cusco, or Aquatabs or Pristine (cooks will also provided filtered water)
- Flashlight/Torch and batteries
- Hat and sunglasses
- Sunscreen and Insect Repellent with 20% DEET
- Convertible hiking pants are a good choice for the dry season, when daytime and nighttime temperatures vary
- Toiletries, towel, antibacterial soap, and toilet paper There is a shower on the third night of the trek
- Snacks such as trail mix, chocolate, energy bars, biscuits
- Camera with extra batteries
- Actual passport and ID (carry in a plastic bag)
- Gloves and warm clothing (thermals) for nighttime
- Swimsuit (optional swimming)
- Plastic bags to put wet clothing or keep things dry
- Personal medications and basic first aid kit
- Altitude sickness medication or coca tea, available in Cusco
- Optional walking poles with rubber covers (metal tips not allowed) These can be rented in Cusco, and are a good option for anyone with weak ankles or knees
- Cash to tip porters, guides, and cooks
What you DON’T need to pack for the Inca Trail (already included):
- Tents (2 people in each, 3-person-capacity)
- Dinner and kitchen tent
- Dining equipment
- First aid kit, including emergency oxygen bottle
- All meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, morning snack, afternoon tea, and filtered water), prepared by cooks
- Transportation to/from Cusco
- Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu
Although making sure you know what to pack for the Inca Trail will ensure your trek is a success, it’s also crucial that you are prepared for the physical demands of the hike. Go hiking, running, and weight training on several occasions at least 3 months before your trek. Build up your stamina by carrying a heavy backpack while training. Remember, the Inca Trail is at an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet in some places, which will make it even more difficult to complete the trek. Make sure to spend a couple days acclimatizing in Cusco before your trek. But anyone in good shape who pace themselves will be able to finish the trek and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Inca Trail.
Read more about How to Research Inca Trail Tours.