Packing List for Machu Picchu
Before you start packing, get a small rolling suitcase or manageable backpack. Don’t try to bring a big suitcase to Machu Picchu.
First, the train doesn’t have sufficient space for large suitcases. Most passengers stow suitcases under the seat, on the rack overhead, or in available space located at the ends of each car.
Second, once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, the small pueblo at the foot of Machu Picchu, you need to carry your suitcase to your hotel. On the way to your hotel, you climb and descend stairs, cross railroad tracks, and walk through the local, often crowded handicrafts market. You may also have to climb a hill.
I usually bring two suitcases since I have yet to master the art of packing light. I leave the larger suitcase at my hotel in Cusco, and I bring the smaller one with me to Machu Picchu.
What should go in that small suitcase? Here are several items that I have found indispensable. This list is not all-inclusive, but it gives you some ideas of must-have items to pack.
1) Insect repellent. I’ve encountered both biting flies and mosquitoes at Machu Picchu.
2) Rain poncho, umbrella, and Ziploc bags. Rain is a frequent visitor to Machu Picchu. In fact, during my second visit, I was caught in a sudden torrential rainstorm. It is best to come prepared, even on sunny days. The Ziploc bags are to protect your camera, cell phone, and other valuables from getting wet.
3) Sunblock, sun hat, and sunglasses. If it is not raining, the sun can be brutal at Machu Picchu. Plus, since there are few trees in the park, it can be difficult to find shade.
4) Shoes with good treads. You’ll be climbing steps and walking on uneven stone paths. Also, there are virtually no handrails in the park. So, make sure to wear comfortable shoes that have good traction.
5) Money. Even if you’ve paid for your entrance fee and bus ticket ahead of time, you need a little money. There is the ubiquitous souvenir shop and snack bar. (I recommend the chicken empanada, by the way.) And, it costs one sol to use the bathroom at Machu Picchu.
6) A bathing suit. If you want to try the famed thermal baths on the outskirts of Aguas Calientes, pack a swimsuit. You can rent a towel at one of the many shops along the way.
7) Earplugs. Many of the hotels in Aguas Calientes were quickly built to meet the growing tourist demand. As a result, they are not well insulated. This makes for thin walls and even thinner windows. If you want to get a good night’s sleep, earplugs are a must.
8) Altitude medication. Machu Picchu is lower than Cusco, so you get a little relief from any symptoms of altitude sickness you may be experiencing. However, you must return to Cusco at some point. To avoid getting a pounding headache on the way back from Machu Picchu, pack your altitude medicine so that you can take it the morning that you leave.