What to Pack When Headed to Machu Picchu

Oleksandra Korobova/Getty Images

Preparation is key for a successful journey to this world wonder.

Machu Picchu is the ultimate bucket list destination. Situated 7,970 feet above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Vilcanota Mountains, the Lost City of the Incas dates back to the 15th century. It has fascinated archeologists ever since it was discovered in 1911 and is one of the most visited of the seven wonders of the world.

And while nowadays the site is accessible via train—it takes about a four-hour ride to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu—some people prefer to hike there.

But before you even book your ticket to Peru, make sure you buy an entry ticket to the ruins in advance and hire a trekking guide—the latter is a new requirement that the government implemented in 2019. Next up, prepare physically. Even if you hit the trails quite often, doing so at 8,000 feet above sea level is a completely different thing. You may want to start swimming to help your lungs cope better with oxygen deficiency. Professionals also recommend spending a couple of days in Cusco before you start your journey so your body could adjust to the air at this altitude.

Now, check out all the hiking essentials you need to pack for your visit to Machu Picchu.


Courtesy respective brands

Patagonia Nine Trails Backpack

First things first, a sturdy backpack will be your best friend on the hiking trail to Machu Picchu. Opt for one that is waterproof or water-repellent since showers are frequent. This Patagonia backpack has a sleek design and packs a lot of features: stash pockets for small items, an exterior stretch pocket, and a padded shoulder harness are just a few of them.

To buy: $129, patagonia.com

Fenix UC52 Rechargeable Flashlight

If you opt to camp overnight along the way to Machu Picchu, this rechargeable flashlight will come in very handy. It has seven lighting options and a digital display that shows the remaining runtime and battery status. It’s also water- and dust-proof so it’s perfect for hiking.

To buy: $150, rei.com

The North Face Techno Pullover Hoodie

Regardless of the time of year you visit Machu Picchu, you have to be prepared to brave the elements. This hoodie, that also has a women’s version, is made from water-repellent fabric and sports a kangaroo pocket as well as a media port in the left chest pocket.

To buy (men's): $99, thenorthface.com; (women's): $99, thenorthface.com

OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent

Mosquitoes are a year-round issue in Peru so pack a few of these travel size insect repellent spray bottles. The strong DEET-based formula provides up to ten hours of protection from mosquitoes and other bugs.

To buy: $31/pack of 5, amazon.com

Merrell MOAB FST 2 Waterproof Hiking Boots

Merrell’s MOAB (short for Mother Of All Boots) hiking boots can take anything the Andes throw at them—they feature anti-slip soles, breathable mesh lining, and a cushioned footbed for all-day comfort. 

To buy (men's): $140, merrell.com; (women's): $140, merrell.com


Courtesy respective brands

Shinola Leather Passport Holder

You will need to show your passport and ticket in order to enter Machu Picchu so this should be the first thing you pack. Needless to say, a sturdy passport holder is a must-have. This one by Shinola is American-made and crafted from genuine leather. It also features five card slots in addition to the passport compartment.

To buy: $150, nordstrom.com

ThinkSport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

You may be nowhere near close to a beach but you need sunscreen more than ever in Cusco and Macho Picchu. The reason? You are seven to ten thousand feet above sea level, which means you are way closer to the sun, and its rays are a lot more dangerous at that altitude so wearing sunscreen is crucial. This one is water- and sweat-resistant and is formulated without any harmful chemicals.

To buy: $13, gothinkbaby.com

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Staying hydrated is very important and, in case you have to fill up your water bottle along the way from a questionable water source, this filtration system will come in very handy. It’s compact, easy to use and removes 99 percent of bacteria and a hundred percent of microplastics.

To buy: $24, amazon.com

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit

This first aid kit contains everything you need to deal with minor cuts and injuries. It only weighs eight ounces and is (literally) a lifesaver.

To buy: $29, rei.com

Coolibar Sunhat

It may be tempting to pack a straw hat but try to resist the temptation. While they may be stylish, they are not exactly the most travel-friendly type and protection-wise are not a good option at that altitude. Instead, opt for this unisex packable wide-brim hat, made from UPF 50+ fabric, that also features a neck flap.

To buy: $69, amazon.com