Machu Picchu is one of those highly-anticipated trips that everyone wants to plan perfectly for, and packing is a huge part of that. In a dream world, someone would just tell you exactly what to bring and that would be the end of it…Based on our experiences traveling by train and trekking, we offer you our resulting Machu Picchu Packing List so there can be less stress and more selfies with llamas. (Plus: It’s unisex!)

 

Ultimate Machu Picchu Packing List - Peru

 

We’ve divided our Machu Picchu Packing List into the different parts of the trip, since the experiences varies a bit for everyone. Whether you’ll train or trek to Machu Picchu, we’ve got you covered (details on these various options here). Make sure to research the weather for when you plan to go, and adjust to the dry or rainy season accordingly! For starters, the wet season is November to March, and the dry season is April-September. (Those wanting the full weather low-down can read on here).

 

Cusco Packing List

 

Cusco Packing List - Peru

 

A packing list for while you’re in the city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. For those not trekking, ignore the trekking list completely and use this as your guide. Trekkers are recommended to spend about 2 days acclimatizing in Cusco before heading to Machu Picchu, so you guys will need both.

  • Clothing for each day of sightseeing (clothing that layers and is easy to take on and off; weather can change quickly here. We both stuck with jeans and tee-shirts, plus additional layers)
  • 1 Athletic outfit (in case you do any hikes, make sure to bring athletic pants and a tee)
  • Comfortable shoes for sightseeing
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Umbrella (during rainy season, this travel size is really convenient)
  • A cable lock (to use one the bags you’ll be leaving in Cusco or Aguas Calientes while at Machu Picchu and/or trekking)
  • Lonely Planet Peru Guidebook
  • ATM and Credit Cards
  • Copies of your passport and cards
  • You a student? Bring your ID for discounts!

 

Cusco Packing Tips

  • Younger, backpacker bars are very casual and you won’t need to dress up to go out.
  • Wanting to spend your days in llama sweaters and colorful pants? Then leave some clothes at home and stock up here! It’s all handmade, cheap, sold in & near San Pedro Market and makes for great souvenirs afterwards.
  • There are some nicer restaurants here that you may not want to roll into in your athletic gear, but most won’t need anything more formal than jeans. Leave the heels at home, girls, this is a city of cobblestone and carefree attire.
  • If doing a day trip to the Sacred Valley, most travelers choose to dress in more athletic gear as many of these tours include a bit of walking.
  • If you plan to visit a lot of Cusco’s infamous churches, make sure to pack something modest for these visits.
  • Make sure to bring something warm for the evenings as temperatures drop quite a bit.

 

Machu Picchu Trek Packing List

 

Ultimate Machu Picchu Packing List - Peru

 

You have two options here. 1.) Leave your main luggage in Cusco and fit your stuff in a small backpack for the trek (and then leave some of that stuff in your Aguas Calientes hotel the day you’re on Machu Picchu itself). 2.) Those traveling with a backpacking backpack can take items out to leave in their Cusco hotel/hostel’s storage room, then bring that filled with only items for the trek. You will need to bring a small bag as well for the day you go up to Machu Picchu as big backpacks are not allowed (you can leave it in your Aguas Calientes hotel).

On many treks you will personally be carrying your backpack, so pack lightly!

  • 1-3 Athletic pants (fewer for short treks and dry season)
  • 1 Pair Athletic shorts
  • 1 Shirt per day (Short sleeves and tank tops for warmer treks/summer,  layers for colder treks/winter)
  • 1 Long sleeve shirt or athletic shell (1 for summer, two for winter)
  • 1 Fleece jacket or sweatshirt (Temperatures drop in the evenings significantly)
  • 1 Pair of socks per day (double during rainy season)
  • 1 Pair supportive athletic shoes or hiking boots (Merrell boots worked for both of us)
  • 1 Rain jacket or poncho
  • 1-2 Sets of pajamas/clean clothes for sleeping
  • 1 Set of underwear per day (plus three extra)
  • 1 Bathing Suit (there are hot springs on several trek routes and at the base of Machu Picchu)
  • 1 Pair Sandals (for evenings)
  • the equivalent of $100 USD in Peruvian Soles
  • Playing Cards (always a great way to make new friends on your group)
  • Notebook/Journal (for those writers among you who don’t want to forget a thing)
  • *Trekking Poles (can be rented in Cusco)

We did the Inca Jungle Trek, which is known for being less intense and fun for backpackers. It includes a few optional non-trekking activities (rafting, ziplining), and the accommodation is in small hotels each night. Some other treks require camping, so make sure to confirm this before. If you will be doing a trek with camping, make sure to include the items on this packing list as well (and any others the guide recommends you bring):

  • Headlamp (essential every time we camp)
  • Warmer clothing for sleeping (ideally double layers)
  • Sleeping bag liner (since you’ll be using rented sleeping bags)
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented in Cusco, may be included in your trek or not)
  • Toilet paper (always good to have your own stash, Coleman’s makes a travel size)
  • Hand sanitizer (we keep it old school with keychain hand sanitizers)

Trek Packing Tips

  • Trekking during rainy season? Make sure to pack plastic bags or protective cases for all of your electronics, use trash bags to cover your things inside your backpack, and either bring a rain jacket or buy a cheap poncho in Cusco. The cheap ponchos are actually a great option as they can go over your daypack and protect your stuff, more durable ones can be bought online. Gaiters are also great to make sure your shoes don’t fill with water, and water-proof gloves will keep your hands warm. Those expecting heavy rain should invest in a pair of waterproof pants to wear over tighter layers.
  • The different routes vary a bit. For example, the Inca Jungle trek takes you through hot parts of the jungle, whereas the Salkantay trek can take you through a snowy mountain pass. Factor these into the list above. If you are doing a colder route or trekking during the winter, focus on bringing a variety of pieces that you can layer to be prepared for all situations.
  • After the trek each evening, most people change into what they’ll wear to sleep, so there’s no need for any additional clothing. If you have a fun group like us you may hang out for a bit, but you won’t be going anywhere you need to look nice.
  • Trainers or hiking boots? People do both on most of the treks, so it’s up to you. Those on advanced treks such as Salkantay will want hiking boots, those on the Inca Trail or Inca Jungle can do either.
  • Even if your trek claims to “include everything”, bring cash. On many of the cheaper treks, everything from drinks to various forms of local transport used along the way may turn out to be your responsibility to pay. Need new camera batteries or toiletries? See a souvenir you like? Most treks will pass some small towns, so you’ll certainly need cash at some point, and (at the time of writing) none of them have ATMs or take credit cards.
  • The weather may be hot and sunny, but always wear pants. The mosquitos here (mainly on the Inca Jungle trek and at Machu Picchu) are some of the fiercest we’ve had the pleasure of encountering, tougher than the Amazon. I made the mistake of wearing shorts and had to change after 1 hour because I had about 50 bites. Don’t make the same mistake!
  • *Budget travel tip: Buying things just for the trek that you aren’t sure you need? Keep the tags on until you use them, pack them in individual packs to keep them clean and save the receipts. If you end up never needing to wear those waterproof pants, you can return them when you get home.

 

Toiletries (for trekkers and non-trekkers)

Trekking or training, Cusco and Machu Picchu require a few additional toiletries.

  • Bug Spray (live and die by Picaridin, the only one we’ve had success with and it doesn’t melt plastic like toxic DEET)
  • Anti-Itch Cream (this Benadryl cream worked well for me, locals swear by Vick’s)
  • Sunscreen (stay on top of it, that Andean sun is muy fuerte! The classic: this Neutrogena)
  • Benadryl or anti-histamine (the mosquitos on the trails here can cause some to react, so trekkers be prepared)
  • Altitude Sickness pills (Sorochi is popular, you can easily buy them in Cusco upon arrival or stock up before)
  • Small first-aid kit (if trekking)
  • Advil / Tylenol (if trekking)
  • Travel-size toiletries (If trekking)

 

Technology (for trekkers and non-trekkers)

The electronics you need to pack for Machu Picchu.

  • Camera & Charger (extra batteries for those camping on treks; we use this DSLR and a GoPro)
  • Enough memory cards (If you’re trekking, make sure you won’t run out of space)
  • Phone & Charger (A reliable waterproof case is great for trekkers during rainy season, we love this one)
  • Power bank (so you can charge your stuff even from the side of a mountain)
  • Adapters (outlets are two-prong, round and flat; those from countries without these will need a converter/adapter)

 

Machu Picchu Packing List: For the Day

 

Whether you trek or train, you will need to prepare a day pack to take to Machu Picchu itself. Here’s our essential Machu Picchu Day Packing List:

  • Small daypack (full-size backpacks are not allowed, leave them in Aguas Calientes: details here)
  • Snacks (save time and money by bringing a full lunch, there is only one restaurant outside the park)
  • A lot of water (plastic bottles are not allowed inside, bring a re-usable bottle)
  • Cameras (tripods are not allowed to enter, selfie sticks are)
  • Money (for food, drinks, if you will take the bus back down)
  • Poncho/Umbrella (during rainy season and shoulder of rainy season)
  • 1 Jacket (especially if you plan to go for sunrise)
  • ID with name matching that on your ticket
  • Passport (optional, but they have a Machu Picchu stamp you can get inside it if you bring it!)
  • Entrance ticket!

 

Work your way through our Machu Picchu packing list and you’ll be the most prepared out there. Pity the fool who forgot the Piciridin! (Or just, you know, share some and feel awesome and worldly on the inside). For more general Machu Picchu tips, home videos of our trekking experience (you read that right), tell-all stories and all other Machu Picchu travel advice from a Peruvian who’s been four times (Henry) and an American who went once but got enough bug bites for a lifetime (Megan), you can find all of that here.

 

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