General guide to what to pack for any hike toward Machu Picchu

Every participant without exception (children, students or adults) must have their original passport from the moment of pickup from your hotel, during the hike, entrance to the Inca Trail, Choquequirao, and Machu Picchu, and return to the city of Cusco.

In case the participant in the walk is a student and has reserved as a student, the passenger must have their orginal passport and student card (ISIC), for the entrance to the Inca Trail, Choquequirao,and Machu Picchu.

This is very important.  Failure to present the original passport (and student card, if applicable) will result in the participant being denied entry.

Hiking in the Andes always passes through a varying climate that includes different elevations and micro climates, resulting in some nights along the hike that are cold and others that can be quite warm.

We recommend that participants bring a sleeping bag rated to at least 15˚F/-8˚C for whichever month of the year you decide to make the trek. Although the temperature does not usually fall below 32˚F/0˚C along the hikes, it is important to make sure that you can stay warm (especially in the cold months of June and July) and get a good night’s rest in order to continue the hike the next day.

The Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek is one of the longest treks commonly hiked to reach Machu Picchu.  As you will climb and descend through different elevations and types of terrain, it is important to have a good pair of sturdy, waterproof boots to hike over the stones, through the mud and water, and provide good support for the journey.   Most importantly, the boots that you wear during the hike must be comfortable to avoid blisters.

We recommend that you get a boot that provides good ankle support to do the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek to minimize the risk of suffering a twisted ankle or bruised toes from too much impact with your shoes during long descents into the depths of the Apurimac Canyon (Day 1), Choquequirao to Rio Blanco and the extensive ascents to Maizal and Yanama (Day 3/4).  Avoid wearing regular athletic shoes that do not provide ample support for the irregular geography you will be trekking.  Hiking boots shouldn’t take an extensive amount of time to “break in”.  Make sure you try hiking in your boots before the trek and ensure that they are comfortable, with adequate width for your feet and toes without being excessively roomy, which can cause your feet to slide and get blisters.

Just as important as a good pair of hiking boots are the socks you wear with them.   Make sure to get a good a pair of soft, thick socks (Merino wool) to help minimize the risk of blisters or discomfort.  Try out your socks ahead of time to make sure they are a good fit with your shoe, won’t be the cause of any blisters, and will keep your feet warm up in the high mountains of the Andes.

After long days of decending into canyons, climbing up steep peaks or through the ancient ruins of the Inca city of Choquequirao, and traversing miles in the Peruvian Andes, it can be a great relief to your feet to be able to relax in a pair of sandals around camp.  

Not only will your sandals give a bit of freedom to your feet, they will also be useful if you decide to visit the hot springs when arriving at Aguas Calientes (town) or enjoy a cold shower along the trek.  Do not wear sandals at night, even if making a quick visit to the restroom because the camps do not always have bright lighting. Do not wear sandals during the hike because they are not sufficient protection for your feet.

The Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek offers the possibility of visiting the hot springs in the town of Aguas Calientes (sometimes referred to as Machu Picchu Town) to relax the muscles after several days of trekking.  Some participants enjoy having a swimsuit along the hike in order to take a refreshing cold shower in one of the camps (some offer cold water showers).

Do not enter rivers along the trek as they are fast moving and can be dangerous.

The changing geography of the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek makes it necessary to have appropriate trekking pants. Avoid wearing jeans or pants that are thick and uncomfortable, especially when wet.  Avoid wearing leggings because they may not be warm enough for this type of hike.  

We suggest you wear a lightweight comfortable pair of hiking pants, with pockets for easy access to frequently used items (passport, sunblock, chapstick, sweets, glasses, etc.), and the option to change quickly from pants to shorts in order to keep you at a comfortable temperature as you hike.  These pants are typically made of Nylon or Polyester and dry quickly when wet.

Of course, you know what pants you are most comfortable hiking in.  Be sure to choose pants that you can hike in comfortably, will dry quickly, and keep you sufficiently warm.

For the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek we suggest you bring a set of thermal underwear because at some of the camps (Yanama, Totora, Collpapampa) temperatures drop during the night and stay low for the first few hours of the day. Typically you won’t need to wear them during the day, since your body temperature will rise as you hike, but be sure your thermals are sufficiently comfortable and roomy in case you want to wear them during the day as well.

The Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek is an intense hike that includes lots of steep ascents and decents, passes through different ecosystems, as well as varied geography uneven paths.  Even though it can be cold outside, you can be sure you will break a sweat on your way to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu.

We recommend that you bring a enough shirts to be able to change every day.  We suggest that you bring a mix of short sleeve and long sleeve shirts, short sleeves for layering with jackets while you hike during the day and long sleeves to protect your arms from cold and mosquitos at night.

We suggest that you bring a fleece/polartec because parts of the road to Choquequirao and Machu Picchu, as well as some of the camps (Yanama, Totora, Collpapampa) can be quite cold.  A fleece can be a  convenient layer that’s easy to remove and won’t decrease mobility while walking. It’s also very convenient to sleep in since it’s more comfortable than a regular jacket and can help you stay warm for a good night’s rest.

It’s important to bring bring a waterproof jacket (Gore-tex – H2No®)  to do the 8 day Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, regardless of the time of year.  Parts of the trek are close to the jungle (Choquequirao, Maizal, La Playa, Machu Picchu) and also passes through different micro climates, increasing the possibility of rain even in the dry months (June, July, August).

You may also consider bringing a cheap plastic poncho that can quickly be put on over your clothes and backpack, since rain can start quickly and lost for short or long periods of time.

It’s essential to have a flashlight for moving around camp and inside your tent in the evenings and early mornings.  We suggest you bring  a headlamp  in order to keep your hands free to aid in packing, reading, eating dinner, taking pictures, and visiting the restroom. 

Consider packing an extra pair of batteries, to ensure that you have sufficient batteries throughout the trek and make sure your flashlight is turned off during the day to preserve them.

We recommend you bring a good sun hat that can cover your face and neck, any month of the year that you decide to do the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek.  You may also want to pack a bandana to cover your ears and neck to minimize the risk of sunburns as the sun burn especially bright at this high altitude, especially in the months of June, July, August.  Be sure to use lots of sunblock.

Be sure to bring a warm hat and gloves to keep you comfortable and warm in the evening and early morning hours.  Keep them in your day pack along the trek, as a turn  in weather can unexpectedly change the temperature.  The camps in the villages of Yanama (11.483ft / 3500m), Paso San Juan (13,780ft / 4200m), and Totora (10,663ft / 3250m) can get quite chilly. 

Having a pair of sunglasses will not only help protect you from the sun’s rays, it can also help minimize redness of the eyes caused by cold wind, dust, or other elements that can irritate your eyes.  The sun is very strong at the high altitudes along the Choquequirao –  Machu Picchu trek, so it’s important that you protect your eyes.

When hiking the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek you should carry a sturdy water bottle or resevoir, no larger than 3 liters to avoid causing discomfort and carrying too much weight in your pack. The geography of this hike and physical exertion required to hike it requires a lot of water.  However, you can refill your bottle or reservoir at established camps or resting places.

The water ITTC will give you at the camps and resting spots will be cooled, filtered and boiled water. Do not drink water from the streams or rivers along the hike, in order to avoid getting sick. The presence of shops is limited (Chiquiska, Rosalinda, Maizal, Yanama, Totora, La Playa, Aguas Calientes) and prices vary compared to the city (Cusco).

The Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek is one of the longest routes to Machu Picchu and has a varied geography with a lot of unevenness. You will make a lot of difficult climbs and descents on rocky, dusty paths, which will make a good pair of hiking poles a huge help for crossing the various obstacles and irregularities along the way (stones, branches, etc.). 

Hiking poles can help you set and keep a good pace, aligning your arms and shoulders with your legs, to maintain a good rhythm as you move along the trail.  Be sure that your hiking poles have good rubber tips, which have better grip on the different surfaces (stones, wood, dirt), and an anti-shock system which is great support for your knees and arms.

The most important thing is to make sure that the watch you are thinking of bringing to the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek has a light and is water resistant, even in the dry season from May to August.  You never know when you will come into contact with water.  This may be while washing your hands, taking water from the stream, bathing with your watch still on, etc.  If your watch is not waterproof, this could be the end of your watch.

Having a watch on the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek will help you have a better idea of the time you are hiking, time you need to start, time to get to the camps, time to get ready, time for food, time to be at the train station, etc.  A watch on the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek will help you get a better idea of the time, organize it, and prepare yourself for what you’re about to do.  If you are of the mindset that you are on vacation, and you don’t care about the time, that’s ok too.  Just be sure to catch your train on time!

For the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, feel free to bring your camera, GoPro, cell phone (with camera), or whatever you want to use to document your journey and get that perfect picture or video for your travel blog or Instagram.  Just remember to bring extra batteries!  Remember that this is a long trek, passing through a lot of areas without access to electricity to recharge your equipment.  Be sure to bring enough memory cards as well.  There’s a lot to see on this trek and you won’t want to run out of space before you get to Machu Picchu!

No matter what month you choose to do the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, it’s essential to bring a plastic rain poncho.  These are light, easy to pack, and much more impermeable and resistant to rain than other materials, including Gore-tex.

It’s important to bring a rain jacket as well, but throwing on a plastic poncho over yourself and your equipment is a good way to ensure you and your stuff stay dry along the trek.  Walking for hours while soaked is doable, but a lot less comfortable.  Be aware that rain in the Andes is unpredictable and can happen any time, even during the dry season, and be prepared.

Keep in mind that as you hike you will gradually ascend to some very high altitudes as you pass by Yanama (3,500m/11,483ft) and summit the San Juan Pass (4200m/13,780ft).  At these high altitudes, away from the smog of the cities, the sun can cause redness or intense sunburns, without your noticing due to the cold of the mountains.  It’s important that you bring a good sunblock, preferably 50+ (SPF) or higher to avoid damage to your skin and extreme discomfort.

Try to use your clothing as much as possible to protect your skin (espeically neck, ears, arms).  Some ways to avoid burns are to use long-sleeved shirts, full pants instead of shorts, wearing a good sun hat, covering the neck with a bandana if your hat doesn’t provide enough shade, and frequently using sunscreen.

Your lips can be just as sensitive as your skin to the change in climate and exposure to the sun, wind, and dust on the trail. In these somewhat harsh conditions, it is possible to suffer from dryness in the lips and painful cracks caused by exposure. Be sure to bring along some lip balm or Chapstick and stay hydrated, drinking enough water throughout the trek.

Another essential for your pack is a good mosquito repellent (20% – 30% DEET) especially if you plan to hike the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek in the months of June to August because these months are the warmest of the year (warmest days, coldest nights).

The presence of mosquitoes is somewhat increased at some locations along the hike because they are warm or have abundant vegetation (Apurímac Canyon, Choquequirao, Blanco River, Collpapampa, La Playa, Lucmabamba, Llactapata, Hidroelectrica, Aguas Calientes town and Machu Picchu).  Be sure to come prepared with ample mosquito repellent.

For your comfort it will be very important that you take your time preparing your toiletries. There are very few shops along the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, and it’s very unlikely you will find exactly what you want.  For this reason, make sure you bring all the toiletries you need.

The list of toiletries we provide here are the most basic for the hike.  Feel free to pack what you need.

  • Toilet Paper

  • Toothpaste

  • Toothbrush

  • Razor

  • Shampoo

  • Q-Tips

  • Deodorant

  • Dental Floss

  • Comb or Hairbrush

  • Towel

  • Disinfectant Wipes

  • Tweezers

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Feminine Hygeine Products

This is an essential that you must not forget.  Toilet paper is not provided in restrooms along the trail.  You will need to bring your own toilet paper, which should be packed in plastic bags to prevent it from getting wet due to rain, humidity, sweat etc. You must have a roll of toilet paper at all times throughout the trip.  There are a limited number of shops along the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, and not all carry toilet paper.  Make sure sure you come prepared!

These small items don’t take up much space in your backpack and are very important to consider bringing as part of your equipment for Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek.  They may not seem necessary, but could be an immense help in an emergency situation or an annoying inconvenience. 

You never know if you will need to sew a ripped backpack strap, cut a rope, open a can, light a campfire, etc.  Most outdoor backpacks have whistles built into their buckles or clasps, and can be used to draw attention to you in an emergency.  These items can help you to get out of uncomfortable situation or trouble.

It is important to prepare a small first aid kit to treat small wounds such as blisters, small cuts, scratches, and sunburns, or to extract a splinter.  You should carry with you any medicines you take regularly and be sure to insulate your medication from moisture before packing it.

Important. If you use medication prescribed by a doctor, consider preparing an extra supply of your medication to send with one of your friends, in case you accidentally lose or damage your kit, or it gets wet.

You will be provided very filling meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along the trek.  You will also have tea and snacks arriving to the last camp of the day.  You will be given small snacks along the way.  You will be very well fed!  However, if there are particular snacks that you like to eat while hiking, feel free to bring them along.

On the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek you will want to carry some amount of money in local currency (S /. Peruvian Nuevo Soles).  There won’t be any ATMs or exchange houses along the way. The extra money that you take on the hike will be entirely for personal expenses like sodas, gifts, and tips (guide, cook, muleteers). Remember that the meals along the hike will be included except the first breakfast and the last lunch (Aguas Calientes village).

Do not carry large denominations like S /. 100, S /. 200 Nuevos Soles (Peruvian Nuevo Soles).  Smaller denominations like S /.10 or S/.20, and coins will be more useful.

The village of Aguas Calientes has banks, exchange houses, and ATMs. These will be at your disposal after the trek.

It is very important that while you are hiking the Choquequirao – Machu Picchu trek, you are alert and aware of your surroundings.  You will need to pay special attention to where you are walking and to have alert senses, especially sight and hearing.

Note: Participants are advised NOT to listen to music and not to be distracted by reading while walking, since some of the paths are along steep cliffs and fast flowing rivers. Having music or a book can be a good distraction to relax at the end of the day, once established and safe in the camp enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.  Please be careful on the trails.  Sincerely ITTC.

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