Seasoned Hikers on What to Pack for Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail

Terra Explorer
July 28, 2021

So you’re going on a multiple-day trek to Machu Picchu through the Inca Trail to soak in nature’s healing powers. You probably have already googled the basics and have a checklist awaiting on your notes app. Besides the apparent search results, there might be a couple of things to pack or to do that would make the whole experience a little bit more enjoyable. We turned to our very own outdoor-adoring team of connoisseurs to query them on unexpected must-dos.


What to wear to Machu Picchu? Get An Alpaca Hoodie When Hiking Around July

terra explorer machu picchu


In most people’s heads, alpaca equals cute viral videos or chunky beanies in Aspen, depending on who you ask. But they are actually animals that evolved and live in one of the most rugged climates in the world: the Andes. No surprise then, when we learned that their wool is very functional. It adapts to changing temperatures which makes a perfect material for this time of the year (May to September is dry season) when it’s sunny and hot during the day while being chilly at night—a starry night, we might add. 


Our favorite is this Paka alpaca hoodie specially designed for those of us who like clothes to stretch and move as we do. Did we mention it is made by Peruvian women? If you follow us, you know that supporting local communities is one of those things we care about (We even offer community-based tourism.) You can also purchase one from the many artisan-owned shops in the streets of Cusco. 



Pack Individually Wrapped Makeup Remover Wipes & Hand Sanitizing Wipes


Who would think that makeup-related items would make it into this list? But according to Alina —our Marketing Executive and passionate outdoor enthusiast—they really come in handy on multiple day hikes (or treks) when you can’t skirt over personal hygiene. 


You don’t want to spend the whole hike with sore shoulders from carrying lots of water in your backpack. The less water you bring for other than hydration, the better. So by the end of the day when I need to take all of that sunscreen, sweat, and dirt off; I’ll use the makeup wipes instead of wasting precious and weighty water”—she told us. 


Alina adds: “The same goes for hand sanitizing wipes which I think do a better job than alcohol gel because you can really rub the dirt off. Just don’t bring the whole thing! Make sure to pack a few individually wrapped wipes.” Don’t forget to store the used ones in a trash bag. 


Choose Down Sleeping Bags Over Synthetic Ones


Despite what photographs might have made you believe, all of those storied mountains, even if covered with amazonian trees, are still mountains. So the weather is not an idyllic 75°F (24°C) all year round. June to August—when most of us go on vacations—coincides with winter in the southern hemisphere. Meaning temperatures can go as low as 34°F (1°C) at night time. 


(Insider tip: April to May is the best time to go to Machu Picchu, not overrun by other pleasure seekers plus dry mild weather.)


Picking the right sleeping bag might seem like a menial thing. And it should stay that way. Most sleeping bags have uncomplicated temperature ratings. Numbers aside, a down water-resistant sleeping bag will make things easier for you. Lighter, warmer, and more compressible. Who wants to carry voluminous things when hiking? Not us, that’s for sure. Also, “mummy-style” sleeping bags tend to be even smaller.



Try Coca Leaf Matcha


Picture this: two ancient Inca women walking strenuous distances between Machu Picchu and Cusco. How do they cope with it? If your guess was coffee or any pre-workout canned beverage you are not that far removed from the truth. It was—still is, to this day—a widespread custom in the Andes to chew coca leaves to reinvigorate the body. If you want to fully get into the Peruvian experience, then go ahead and chew. They produce a subtle numbness in the mouth and leave a pleasant aftertaste. 


Our preferred method is drinking it like matcha. Get some coca leaf powder as soon as you land and prepare as per usual. It has a grassy earthy mint-like flavor. It’s great with a smoothie too. Coca leaf is also helpful with altitude sickness and will get you up and running right away. 


We know it is not feasible to make matcha properly in the middle of a hike, so hassle-free glamping trips are always an option. If you don’t mind some clumps, drop that instant coffee and take a couple of teaspoons of coca leaf powder with you on your next Inca Trail Trek.



Spare at least 2 days for acclimatization 

terra explorer chinchero


Not something to pack, but hear us out. To get to Machu Picchu you have to go through swoon-inducing Cusco: a quaint historical Spanish-style town built over the once all-mighty Inca capital. But fainting—or any kind of bodily response for that matter—is not the reaction you want to have on your Cusco trip


This charming city is over three thousand meters above sea level, meaning altitude sickness is not unheard of. Oxygen levels are low at higher altitudes which causes fatigue and energy levels to flounder. These symptoms go away on their own as your body adapts. Taking a couple of days to acclimate before going on a hike will most likely be enough. One cautious person is worth double—a Peruvian proverb recites. 


This was our experts’ guide on unexpected things to bring/do when trekking to Machu Picchu and its surrounding environs. Not into packing checklists? Don’t bog down on it. At Terra Explorer, we have it all already packed and ready to be enjoyed. From private chefs when glamping to raw motorcycle adventures through Peru’s alluring landscapes


Contact us. Let’s start planning that once-in-a-lifetime custom vacation.

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