Travel Tips: What to Pack for the Inca Trek

For our Inca Trek, we had a porter to help carry our stuff, however, there is a 6 kg weight limit on how much a porter is allowed to carry.  The limit includes the weight of the sleeping bag and air mattress, which will leave about 3 kg for personal stuff, and it all has to fit into a duffle bag. We had to balance between the weight limit and what we deemed absolutely necessary to bring for the whole trek. Anything extra would have to be carried in the day pack, but on the second day when you are climbing the steep mountain, you’ll be glad that you don’t have a 20 lbs bag on your back. Based on our experience, here are some tips on what to bring. This includes some of the tips that were given to us and some that we added from our experience.

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Snack/Drinks:

  • Snacks – Don’t bring a lot of snacks with you. We planned it out so that we had 1-2 snack bars a day. If you go with G Adventure, they will provide snacks. Also, along the path, there will be many places for you to buy drinks and food, so save yourself the weight.
  • Drinks – Same thing goes for drinks. Boiled water is provided by the porters at the beginning of each day for you to replenish your bottle. Also along the way, you will find locals selling drinks like Gatorade, beer, etc..
  • Hydration Tablets – You should bring a small bottle of hydration tablets that will help you re-hydrate if you get sick in the mountain.
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Loved my Merrell hiking boots, they were comfortable the whole way to Machu Picchu.

Clothing/Shoes:

  • Extra socks – I cannot emphasize this enough. We were trying to pack light and decided that 2 pairs of socks for 4 days was enough. It was not. By the third day we were pretty miserable.
  • Layers – It’s very hot during the day and very cold at night, so make sure you layer. Warm hoodies and leggings are essential. I brought along the Under Armor Base 4.0 and it was adequate to keep me warm at night. During the day, I found that shorts, a tank top, and a wind breaker was all I needed with the sun was beating down. Beware, the weather can change very fast in the mountains.
  • Wooly hat and gloves – If you go during the winter season, it will get cold at night (especially the second night), a wool hat and gloves will help you keep warm after the sun sets.
  • Hats or Bandanna –  Something to cover your head from the strong sun as you get to higher altitude will help prevent headaches.
  • Rain poncho – We each brought along a rain poncho, but thankfully, we didn’t have to use it. It’s still recommended that you bring it just in case, even during the drier summer season it can still rain.
  • Flip flops – It’ll be nice to take off your shoes and socks after a long day of hiking. It’s also less of a hassle to get in and out of your tent without having to put on your hiking shoes every time.
  • Hiking Boots – It goes without saying that you’ll need a nice comfortable pair of hiking boots that you’ve already worn in. I have never been comfortable wearing hiking boots, or even running shoes for that matter, so I was very nervous about this. We went to our local REI store and tried on many pairs of shoes. I wanted to get the hiking boots that had ankle support for the rocky trail, but after many hours of trying, none of the boots fit me right. I was exasperated and thought that I should just buy one and see if I can break them in. The person who was helping me would not let me do that because “if a shoe hurts you right now, it will be unbearable after a day of hiking.” I finally found a pair that didn’t have ankle support, but it was very comfortable and did not give me any trouble along the way.

Toiletries:

  • Toiletries – In general, bring travel size toiletries. You will not need or use a full size bottle of anything and it’ll take up unnecessary room and weight.
  • Wet naps/tissue papers – When you can’t shower, this is the next best thing. We brought 2 packages and used it all.
  • Toilet paper – Along the way, there are makeshift toilet facilities that were put up by the local villagers that you can use for 1 Sol. Just make sure you remember to bring your own toilet paper.
  • Facewash – It always makes me feel rejuvenated after I wash my face.
  • Wash cloth – We didn’t think to bring this, but it would have been useful when we were washing ourselves by the waterfall.
  • Towel – On the second and third day, there was basic shower facility (read: stall in the dark with cold running water) in the toilet area. If you can brave the smell and the dark, then you should bring a towel along.
  • Sunscreen – The sun will be powerful on the mountain, it’s best to cover yourself with sunscreen so you don’t look like a tomato when you get to Machu Picchu.
  • First aid kit – Make sure you bring Ibuprophen, and moleskin on top of your usual first aid kit.  I took Advil in the morning to help ease the sore muscles.  The moleskin or Band-Aid is useful when you start to get blisters.

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Gear:

  • Camera – There will be many breathtaking photo opportunities along the way, so it goes without saying that you should bring a camera. We brought along our Canon 5D and our GoPro. Depending on how much weight you want to carry, you can bring anything from a small camera phone to a large DSLR. For me, this was a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to make sure I capture it with my good camera, even if I had to leave something else behind (see the socks above).
  • Extra batteries – We brought along 4 batteries, one for each day.
  • Head lamp – These are helpful when you fumble your way in the dark trying to find the toilet. It’s also needed on the last day when you start earlier and have to hike in the dark.
  • Walking sticks – This is debatable and works for some people and not others. I love my walking sticks because the shock absorption really helped me navigate the downhill part. For Fausto, they were a nuisance because they got in his way, especially towards the end.

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Other Essentials:

  • Inflatable pillow – Air pillows are fairly compact and don’t weigh much, but it’ll help you be more comfortable while you sleep at night.
  • Ear plugs – Tents are set up in close quarters. If you are a difficult sleeper, it’ll be good to bring ear plugs so you can block out some of the noises.
  • Passport – Do NOT forget your passport or you will not be able to hike the Inca Trail. The checkpoint is very strict and they will make sure that your passport number and name matched the one you provided when you booked the trek.
  • Sunglasses – Depending on the season you’re going, sunglasses might be helpful to keep the sun out of your eyes as you climb up the mountain.
  • Bug spray – You’ll walk through some wooded areas, so bug spray is good to keep the mosquitos at bay. I tried the Off Clip-on (one clip-on was enough for the trip) and it worked really well, only 1 bite for the whole 4 days.
  • Money – You’ll need money to pay for the toilets, and snacks along the way. You should also bring enough money to tip the porters on the last night. These guys work very hard and deserve all the money you give them, and more.
  • Zip lock bags – Bring  a few with you to hold all your dirty wet clothes later.

At the end of the day, figure out what you can’t live without, keeping in mind that you’re only away for four days. Leave the rest behind, your back will thank you later. If you have any questions about what to bring, let us know in a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Tips: What to Pack for the Inca Trek

  1. Pingback: Peru: Machu Picchu | life after 9to5

  2. Pingback: Trip Report: Peru | life after 9to5

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