For obvious reasons, the Machu Picchu trek is one of the most desired treks in the world. Located almost 8,000 ft above sea level, what the Inca’s left behind is something remarkable. A lost city nestled upon a mountain ridge, more than 560 years old.
Most of these treks will start in Cusco and take around four days to complete. To make the most of the experience, it is essential that you can easily control your body temperature while not carrying unnecessary weight in your backpack. Getting the packing part right can make or break adventures like this.
The most important thing in your arsenal are your boots. Get this part right and you’ll be thankful. The Inca trail, being in a mountainous area, is a rocky and steep terrain unsuitable for sandals. Don’t take sandals. You will need a pair of quality boots that support both your feet and ankles. Since you will be crossing rivers and streams waterproof boots are ideal.
Although Machu Picchu lies in the southern hemisphere it doesn’t mean it’s a tropical environment. It’s a mountainous terrain with local weather systems. While it can be hot and sunny during the day, it can be very cool and breezy during evenings, nights and early mornings. It will also rain, whenever it feels like it.
Your wardrobe should be comprised of lightweight and practical layers that are easy to pack in your bag and suited to everything the weather can throw at you.
From the bottom up, a layering system like this is ideal:
Baselayer – a cool layer which wicks away the sweat from your body
Microfleece – a warm layer which is lightweight and breathable
Waterproof Jacket – the outer shell that protects you from the environment
This should be supplemented by thermal layers that cover your extremities. A good quality hat, scarf and pair of gloves are crucial for this.
Layering in such a way means it’s possible to control the temperature of your body easily and effectively. Carrying lightweight layers full of thermal and wicking technology mean you make the most out of the space you have in your bag.
Other Bits and Pieces
Water bottle and purifying tablets – makes any water drinkable
Microfibre towel – incredibly lightweight and effective absorbent properties
Insect Repellent – for Sandflies around the Machu Picchu site
Suntan Lotion – UV rays are very strong at high altitudes
Camera – so you can live your experience again and again
Headtorch – for navigation to the loo at night
Toilet Paper – for making trips to the loo successful
Now only one question remains. What do I pack everything in? In short, five or six small zip bags within one rucksack. Packing cubes, like these, are indispensable for those that want to hike with smaller and more compact backpacks. With one small packing cube it is possible to stuff in it your hat, scarf, gloves and all of your baselayers and underwear. Two or three of these will carry all of your clothes.
A dry bag is another essential for important things that cannot be compromised, like travel documentation, money and expensive electrical equipment. If all goes to plan, all of the stuff mentioned here should be able to fit into a 40 litre backpack (get one with lots of zips, compartments and pockets), much smaller than most you see on treks of this sort.
The Machu Picchu Experience
Packing this way will ensure that you are able to control your body temperature down to a tee with a bag on your back which is neither bulky or cumbersome. This is the way to embrace Machu Picchu, with a spring in your step. If you follow this advice the Machu Picchu experience will be as pleasurable as it is unforgettable. Lets get packing!