If you are serious about mastering the infamous Machu Picchu Inca Trail trek, then undoubtedly your first priority needs to be your Inca Trail packing list.
Yes, we know you may spend your whole life building up to see this natural wonder of the world…
So, why would you not spend a little time on your preparation to save you lots of pain on the mountain?
It’s finally here.
It’s a gorgeous day in Aguas Calientes.
The rain has stopped and the sun is starting to peek over the clouds.
You climb out of your rustic tent to wake up to a delicious breakfast and a hot coffee.
After four tough days on the infamous Macchu Picchu Inca Trail trek, today is the day you are finally going to make it to the mountain.
An intense few hours later, you make it to the summit.
A rush of adrenalin floods your cheeks as you approach the entry gate for one of the most famous and majestic mountains in the world.
You go to reach for your passport to obtain entry – but then your stomach drops – as you realise… your passport is still with security at the last checkpoint you visited…
Know what you are dealing with.
At a massive 13 square km, eerily hovering below the clouds, the mysterious ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu is well worth the effort.
What many people don’t know is that there many different routes to Machu Picchu and with each route comes different hazards or challenges.
You can stay in the jungle for days, bus and trek, bus and walk, train and walk, bus and train…
Yet whatever Inca trail trek you choose, whatever option you decide, a few things always remain the same.
Fail to prepare – prepare to fail.
The truth is, there’s not much worse than waiting your whole life to experience something so beautiful and majestic as Macchu Picchu, only to self-sabotage your own experience in the moment.
Trust me, I know because I have done it.
And my experience will be one I always remember, but not for the reasons I would have liked.
I’m going to be honest with you guys.
I didn’t do the three, four or seven day Inca Trail trek (yet).
And yet, still, somehow I stuffed up.
Because I didn’t create this Macchu Picchu Essential Inca Trail Packing List before I left. 🙂
But it’s all good.
Because you can learn from my mistakes.
Losing or forgetting your passport en route (or even before you start) would have to be the number one all-time Macchu Picchu fail.
Simply because if you don’t have your passport on the day of entry, you WILL be refused entry.
End of discussion.
And to be refused entry after you have literally trekked your little heart out for days (and waited for years to get there), well let’s just say you may be close to tears.
Aside from no passport, other closely followed Macchu Picchu fails include:
- No sleeping bag (or perhaps even worse, a wet sleeping bag – yuck!)
- No money for tips to porters who have been carrying your bags for you through all kinds of conditions (seriously bad form)
- Ladies – forgetting toiletries during your ‘special time’ (no explanation needed here)
To stop you from making one – or all of – the mistakes I did, here is what I consider the essential Inca Trail packing list to help you to get the most out of your Macchu Picchu experience, no matter what mode of travel you choose.
Essential Inca Trail packing list – Must haves
Passport: You MUST take your passport, as a photocopy is not sufficient to enter Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Pro tip: keep it in a ziplock or plastic bag to keep it safe from the rain and mud.
Pre-purchased entry ticket
ISIC Card (optional): If you booked the Inca Trail trek as a student, you must also bring your original student ISIC card.
If all else fails, as long as you have these items, you can get in.
Essential Inca Trail Packing List – Accessories
Camera – If it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen.
OK, just joking.
I know social media isn’t everything, but, let’s face it, you know you are going to want a picture of you at the top of the mountain.
You are going to want a reminder of that one day you did something cool with your life.
Borrowing a camera works, too.
Plastic/ziplock bags – To keep your belongings and clothes dry.
Toilet paper – No explanation needed on this one.
Small plastic bags for rubbish can be thrown in the main rubbish bag provided by your porters.
Small biodegradeable towel/basic toiletries – There is (usually) an opportunity for a shower at the campsite on the third night.
You know it would be nice for your fellow trekkers if you used it.
Water bottle – Bring a large (1.5 litre) or several small water bottles to refill on the trail with boiling water.
It will be supplied where possible.
Another good option is to bring your own purifying water bottle.
Personal medication/basic first aid kit – Bandaids, Imodium, Panadol, rehydration sachets
Spare batteries, memory cards / charged up power banks – There aren’t any electrical outlets on the Inca Trail treks I know of, so make sure you fully charge up all your tech before you go.
Torch (flashlight) – In case you need to emerge from your tent at night. Also, for the early starts.
Sunscreen, sunglasses , hat – For those sunny days
Daypack with rain cover – For water, snacks, sunscreen, camera and wet weather gear.
Tropical strength insect repellant – I found a natural local one the best.
Small amount of US $/money – Tips for porters are not included.
Essential Inca Trail Packing List – Food
Snacks – Chocolates, chips, biscuits, energy bars.
Snacks and amazing food is usually provided during the trek, but if you turn into a food monster extra food will never go astray.
Essential Inca Trail packing list – Clothing
Waterproof hiking boots – Comfortable , quality footwear is crucial.
You have a few days on your feet, so look after them.
Waterproof clothing (poncho or rain jacket) – A plastic poncho not only looks cool, but you can buy one locally for approximately $1 USD.
Some trekkers also like to bring waterproof trousers (see below on my thoughts on this).
A poncho will usually be sufficient if it covers your bag, body and most of your legs.
6 quick-dry shirts – We recommend packing 6 shirts (one for each day of trekking, plus two extras) in a quick-dry fabric to keep you warm and dry.
2 pairs trekking pants (ideally with the zip-off shorts) – One water-resistant pair and one quick-dry fabric.
You may think these aren’t that trendy and you would be right, but they are really useful.
The days can be super hot, the nights very cold.
You will definitely want shorts and pants.
1 thick sweater or fleece jacket – It’s standard protocol that every newbie who visits Cusco must buy a llama sweater.
Warm pajamas – You don’t want to be cold at night, trust me.
Thermal underwear – No explanation needed.
Sunhat and beanie – Note: You could buy this here too if you want to get one of the brightly coloured Peruvian ones that cover your ears too.
Approx. $6 USD.
Gloves – Plenty available here to buy also pre-Inca Trail trek in Cusco or Macchu Picchu town
6 hiking socks – One for each day and a couple of spares.
5 pairs of (clean) underwear
2-3 casual shirts
Essential Inca Trail Packing List – Optionals
Sleeping bag – Some tours provide sleeping bags or blankets, some don’t.
I would recommend you check prior to leaving.
Antiseptic hand gel – Necessary for eating and after bathroom breaks.
Swimwear – For Aguas Calientes hot pools post recovery Macchu Picchu.
Actually, this should probably be in the ‘must have’ section because the hot pools were definitely one of the best things about my MP experience.
Flipflops/thongs/sandals – If you get sick of your hiking books or you were that person who only brought one pair of socks.
What is usually included in an Inca trail trek to Machu Picchu?
While it is possible to purchase tickets to Machu Picchu in Aguas Calientes, ticket sales are capped at 2500 per day.
Most tours will usually include general entry to Macchu Picchu, but it is advisable to check.
Especially if you want to access different parts of the mountain on the day.
If you are planning your own trip to Machu Picchu, we recommend that you buy your tickets in advance online or in Cusco.
What about afterwards?
After your trek, you will usually return to Cusco by train.
On most treks, you will be accompanied by an trekking guide, a muleteer, and mules to carry your sleeping bag and other equipment.
Your meals will be cooked for you, and often include pasta, soups, sandwiches, and hot tea.
On your guided camping trek to Machu Picchu, all operators should provide a tent with rain protection, a four season sleeping bag, and a sleeping mat.
It is also recommended that you bring a silk sleeping bag liner (optional) for additional warmth and comfort.
If you book a trek with Pie Experiences, we take care of all return transportation on your behalf. For more information on why you should travel with pie experiences, visit our about us page.
Please note: Guided treks with Pie Experiences include entrance tickets to Machu Picchu, transport, an English speaking guide, a cook, a muleteer, mules and all camping equipment.
There are many operators in Cusco selling trekking tours, but the quality of the tours can vary greatly.
Classic Inca Trail permits are limited to 500 per day so with these you need a local operator to book it months in advance.
If you’re interested in alternative routes to Machu Picchu you can (usually) book one of the other treks a few weeks before your arrival in Cusco.
Like it? Pin it!