What to Pack for Your Cusco to Machu Picchu Hiking Adventure

cusco to machu picchu

Trekking to the breathtaking ruins from Cusco to Machu Picchu is an experience like no other. As you prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime journey, packing the right gear can make all the difference between an epic adventure and a miserable slog. Trust me, you don’t want to be that hiker struggling with an overstuffed pack or lacking essential items.

I learned this lesson the hard way on my first Machu Picchu hike a few years ago. Determined to travel light, I skimped on certain crucial items, leaving me ill-prepared for the rugged terrain and rapidly changing weather. My boots weren’t broken in, causing excruciating blisters. I didn’t have trekking poles, putting extra strain on my knees. And my lack of warm layers left me shivering through frigid mountain nights. Fortunately, I’ve refined my packing list over subsequent treks, and I’m here to share my hard-won wisdom.

The Essentials

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots: Invest in a quality pair of broken-in boots with excellent ankle support and traction. The Inca Trail is no place for flimsy sneakers or boots straight out of the box. Break them in for weeks beforehand to avoid painful hotspots.
  • Lightweight, Moisture-Wicking Layers: Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically from scorching days to near-freezing nights, so pack breathable base layers, insulating mid-layers like down or synthetic jackets, and a waterproof outer shell.
  • Trekking Poles: These lifesavers will ease the strain on your knees during steep descents and provide stability on uneven terrain. They’ll be your best friends after hours of hiking.

What Else to Bring

  • Lightweight, packable rain jacket and pants
  • Warm hat, gloves, and buff for chilly mornings
  • High-quality sleeping bag and insulated pad if camping
  • Headlamp or flashlight for navigating before dawn
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing like hiking pants
  • Basic first-aid kit with bandages, medications, blister treatments
  • Nutrient-dense snacks like energy bars, jerky, nuts, and electrolyte drinks
  • At least 2 reusable 1L water bottles or a hydration bladder
  • Quick-drying towel for sweat and any river crossings
  • Toilet paper and ziplock bags for used TP (pack it out!)
  • Local currency in small bills for tips, snacks, and souvenirs
  • Passport and other travel documents

Packing Tips

✓ Opt for lightweight, quick-drying, breathable, and versatile items.

✓ Pack clothing and gear suitable for sub-freezing to scorching temps.

✓ Invest in high-quality, broken-in gear to avoid blisters and discomfort.

✓ Consider hiring a porter to lighten your load if your budget allows.

✓ Pack it all in a supportive, fitted backpack with hip belt.

Don’t Forget the Photographs!

Of course, no Machu Picchu adventure is complete without capturing those jaw-dropping vistas. Be sure to pack your camera, lenses, extra batteries, and memory cards to document every breathtaking moment from the misty mountain peaks to the first glimpse of those ancient Inca ruins.

With the right gear and mindset, your Cusco to Machu Picchu hike will be an experience you’ll cherish forever. Trust me, the effort of breaking in those boots is worth it when you’re comfortably cruising mountain trails towards one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites. Now, lace up and hit the trail!