Inca Trail Packing List
In addition to zip-off hiking pants, broken-in hiking boots, and wick-away shirts, here are a few items that can make your Inca Trail hike a tad more comfortable.
Socks—Liner socks can help you avoid blisters. Hiking socks can offer extra cushioning, which feels great provided they fit well with your hiking boots. And, wool socks can help keep your feet from turning icy while you sleep.
Cash—You’ll want to take un sol coins for the hot showers at the last campsite and cash in good condition to tip your porters and cooks. They don’t accompany you all the way to Machu Picchu, so your only opportunity to tip them is on the trail.
Leaves—Chewing muña or coca leaves can alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. Plus, sharing coca leaves is the fastest way to make friends with your porters and cooks.
Warm stuff—It’s cold in the mountains, especially during the Andean winter months of June, July, and August. Plus, you are more likely to become chilled at night after a day of strenuous exercise. So, bring things to keep you warm. I always pack a hot water bottle, hand and foot warmers, a fleece neck warmer, an alpaca hat, a super-warm sleeping bag, and gloves. I typically run cold, but it’s better to be in a position to share warm things than to shiver and wish I had them.
Rain gear—You can find cheap plastic ponchos just about everywhere in Cusco. Buy two in case one tears on the trail. (I’ve actually had this happen to me.) Waterproof hiking pants are a godsend!
Sun protection—I’ve gotten red in spite of using sun block and wearing a hat because the Andean sun is so strong. Sunglasses are an absolute must, as well. In fact, you might want to pack an extra pair just in case you lose the first pair.
Hiking poles—On Day 3, you hike down steps for a really long time. Many people find this more challenging than hiking up Dead Woman’s Pass on Day 2. Hiking poles can help save your knees. The poles need rubber tips, though; otherwise, you are not permitted to use them on the Inca Trail.
Bathroom kit—Plan on keeping a roll of toilet paper and some hand sanitizer in your daypack for bathroom stops along the trail. Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, and Ciprofloxacin are also good to have along.
Deck of cards—How else will you win those un sol coins for the hot showers from your fellow trekkers if you don’t have cards to play a rousing game of Texas Hold ‘Em at the end of the day?
As the Girl Scouts like to say, “Be prepared.” You’ll have more fun that way!