Destinations

Inca Trail Packing List

What to pack for your Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu...

Before you set out on the Inca Trail you will be able to divide your luggage into three: what you’ll wear and carry on the trek, what the porters will carry for you and what you’ll leave behind for storage in your hotel. You’ll be provided a stuff sack or duffel bag for the items that will be carried for you. Please note that there is a weight limit imposed for these items, which is typically five-to-seven kilograms. You won’t be able to access any of these items during the day as the porters walk ahead of the group to have time to set-up both the lunchtime and evening camps. 

Here’s a guide to how you can split your items up between the duffel bag and your daypack.

Duffel bag

The items carried by the porter will be all about washing and sleeping:
  • Sleeping bag – you’ll need a good three-season sleeping bag for the period October-May, but consider taking a four-season bag for the June-September winter season. You can either bring your own sleeping bag from home or hire one in Cuzco. If you do the latter, be sure to have your own silk sleeping bag liner with you.
  • Roll mats – these are generally provided by your tour company, but as the campsite pitches may be a little stony it’s a good idea to bring an inflatable mattress or hire one in Cuzco.
  • Travel pillow – an inflatable pillow definitely beats a sleeping bag stuff sack full of dirty clothing.
  • Clothing – take thermal fleece and trousers for sleeping in, as well as your clean underwear (including socks), base layers, t-shirts and spare trousers for the rest of the trek.
  • Toiletries – on the third night of the Inca Trail you have the chance to take a shower, so make sure you pack travel-sized shampoo and body-wash, along with a medium or large travel towel any items you’ll use on the other evenings and mornings.
  • Footwear – take sandals or flipflops to wear to the showers on night three.
  • Swimwear – just in case you have the chance to visit the hot pools at Aguas Calientes.

Daypack

  • Passport – you need this to get into Machu Picchu, where you can get a nice stamp. Store it in a zip bag.
  • Waterproof clothing – breathable waterproof trousers and jacket. Alternatively, buy a basic plastic poncho in and around Cuzco.
  • Warm clothing – a woollen hat and gloves are essential. Early starts can be chilly at any time of year.
  • Plastic bags – pack everything in plastic bags to keep it dry, even if you have a cover for your daypack. You’ll also need plastic bags to store your used toilet paper during the day.
  • Sun protection – pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat or cap.
  • Toiletries – you may want to keep your toothbrush and toothpaste with you to wash up after lunch. If so, you’ll also need a travel mug to swill with, and a small travel towel.
  • Hygiene, medication and first aid – toilet rolls, antiseptic hand gel and cream, wet wipes, plasters, treatment for diarrhea, rehydration sachets, painkillers and insect repellant are all absolute essentials.
  • Water bottle – you’ll get through plenty of fluids so bring a large bottle or two or three smaller ones that can be refilled with the boiled and, often, treated water provided by your tour company.
  • Photographic equipment – camera and cards or film, along with spare batteries.
  • Snacks – you may want to have a supply of energy bars and trail mix with you to supplement any snacks provided by your tour company.
  • Torch or head torch and spare batteries.

What you’ll wear

  • Footwear - start from firm foundations with waterproof walking boots that are broken in and therefore comfortable but still have plenty of miles left in them. Walking shoes are also fine, but some trekkers may prefer the extra ankle support provided by boots.
  • Clothing – liner socks and walking socks, zip-off trousers, T-shirt and fleece top and/or jacket. Once you get walking, two layers on your top half generally suffice, and on the tougher climbs under a high sun you’ll be stripped down to your t-shirt.
  • Trekking poles – these are by no means essential, but can help take some of the strain off your joints on the descents back down into the cloud forest. Be sure to take poles that are not tipped with metal – these aren’t allowed due to the damage their incessant tapping can do to the overburdened Trail.

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