The Inca Trail Peru: Packing List
A couple of years ago, after a ‘life’ type moment the decision was made to tick something off our list of dreams. So we thought about what would thrill us the most, and booked it. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is awe-inspiring, life changing and if you’re having your own ‘moment’, whatever it may be, this is one thing that may make it seem small.
After trawling though many a provider and a million reviews, the Inca Discovery with GAdventures was the one. So out came the credit card, and we have never looked back (ok maybe we did once, when the air hostess realised we were on our own and asked us what we’re doing in Peru, cue her horrified face when we told her we were doing the Inca Trail. Maybe we looked back then, just for a minute).
As a Jane travelling alone, after the excitement died down, the nerves obviously kicked in and we debating EVERYTHING. The right kit, clothes, altitude tablets, water purification and toilet paper. There were a lot of things.
So we wanted to share our experience, letting you know first hand what we took, what we needed and what it was like.
What to expect
It’s considered a moderate hike, it’s not technical but it’s pretty tough! Mainly due to A LOT of Inca stairs (which you also have to come down)! But if you’re reasonably fit and have done some training (climb a lot of stairs to train) then you should be fine. It’s 26 miles long and expect to walk between 6-9 hours a day. We recommend buying a wooden walking stick like we did, it will help, especially down the stairs!
Altitude sickness was one of our main worries (so much so that we cried at the fact we didn’t feel sick when we got to Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point we would reach!) it’s entirely down to your genetic make up and has little to do with health or fitness. Some of our group took altitude medication before the trip and they didn’t seem to suffer, we didn’t take anything and we felt fine too. One of our group had to leave the trip in Cuzco due to severe sickness and a couple of others felt pretty sick along the way, but the majority were fine and we all made it to Machu Picchu. The GAdventures guides and porters were amazing, they help you through! Drink plenty of water and take the trek at a pace that is comfortable for you, our group were spread nearly an hour apart at times. Also, at least a day in Cuzco to acclimatise is best, it sits at around 3400m and the beginning of the hike is much lower, you go down before you go up again. The highest point you will reach is 4200m.
The food prepared by the porters along the way is pretty incredible, they cater for vegetarians too and they really do feed you! They even made a cake on our last day!
One of the items we see on a lot of lists are water purification tablets. We took some, and didn’t use them once! Boiled water was provided for us morning, lunch and night so just taking a couple of refillable bottles should be fine. This may vary depending on the tour so check with your provider.
Sleeping bags, inflatable mats and walking sticks are all available to hire. We bought a sleeping bag but we really didn’t need to. The hire ones are fine and do the job, however we do recommend taking a fleece liner (whether you’re renting a bag or not – it gets very cold at night!)
The porters are allowed to carry 6kg of your stuff and the bags get weighed before the trail starts. Make the space count, it includes your sleeping bag! The things you will need daily you can carry in your daypack and anything extra can be stored in Cuzco.
So here are our recommendations for your Inca Trail Packing List.
We LIVED in them! Zip off walking trousers were recommended, lots of our group had them and they were really useful but honestly, we didn’t use ours. We lived in our black leggings, nothing was more comfy!
We took one set of good quality Helly Hansen base layers and we wore them every morning and through the night. We cheated a little and actually wore them over the top of our leggings and vest in the mooring so we could strip off once it started to get hot! Not the done thing, but it worked well for us!
We were lucky enough to have amazing weather on our trip but it gets very cold at night and hot during the day. We took 3 vest tops which we layered under 3 long sleeved tshirts. To go over the top we also took fleece. You don’t need to spend a fortune, our vests and long-sleeved tshirts were from Primark!
We took a waterproof, 3 layer jacket (one where there is a fleece zipped into the outer layer and can be taken in or out as required). The weather was amazing when we went but we took waterproof trousers just in case, and we can imagine, if it rained hard like it tends to do, you would be pretty miserable if you didn’t have them!
We didn’t take a hat. We were wrong! We ended up buying a wool hat and a cap! You will need a hat for when it gets cold and also (if you’re lucky with the weather) something to keep the sun off your head. You will also need gloves.
A pair for each day of the trek. You will want to change them!
For us these were a must. Some people say you can do the trek in trainers, we can’t imagine it would be comfortable and the ground is very uneven.
Also, take spare joggers/top to sleep in and lightweight closed toe shoes for the evenings. We didn’t take any shoes apart from our hiking boots, we regretted it once we got to camp and our feet were burning!!
Head torch – We don’t know what we would have done without it. It doesn’t look that pretty but you will appreciate nothing more! Having your hands free as well as light is literally amazing!
Wet wipes – They are a joy for nearly everything. That’s all you need to know.
Sun cream/sunglasses/lipbalm – It gets very sunny at high elevation and the weather can change quickly.
Toilet paper – Ok, you may appreciate this as much as the wet wipes. Just grab a roll from the last hotel/hostel you stay at.
Refillable water bottles or bladders – Pretty self explanatory!
Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) – Just in case you get a headache from the altitude or start to get seriously achey muscles. Which you will! Oh, and plasters!
Obviously we took toothpaste etc but washing hair is pretty much a no! We’re also going to admit that we took dry shampoo! And everyone wanted to use it!!
So that’s it! Everyone has a slightly different version of events so we’re not saying this list is definitive! It’s just from our own personal experience and we hope it helps some of you out whilst in preparations!
If you’re thinking about an adventure, some travelling or just getting away, we can’t recommend the Inca Trail with Gadventures enough, it’s an amazing, inspiring adventure that will leave you absolutely knackered. And not regretting a second.
Have you done the Inca Trail? If so let us know in the comments below or @tweetjanes