Heading to Cusco and Machu Picchu? The Andean highlands of Peru are known for their varied weather, so it can be hard to know how to pack appropriately for your trip. Different travelers may experience entirely different types of travel in the region, some very active with days of trekking, others opting for a more leisurely sightseeing experience. Whatever your travel style, we’ve compiled the best tips for what to wear in Cusco and a useful list of what to pack for Cusco and Machu Picchu visitors.
You’ll be at a very high altitude, with minimal humidity, but you will likely experience a range of temperatures nonetheless. The bright sun can make the air feel drastically warmer, while adventures under trees of in the shade will cool you down in seconds. You can expect highs of 70°F during the day, but temperatures as low as 35°F in the evenings.
If your Peru vacation coincides with Cusco’s wet season (November to March) you may like to consider taking some extra waterproof wear and equipment, and if it coincides with Cusco’s dry season (April through October) a few extras layers may be required, but in general, the following packing list for Cusco and Machu Picchu should fare you well:
Packing for a trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu means you’ll want plenty of layers and some specialized clothing, namely:
• Athletic clothing: dry-fit, light-weigh and fleece are great for layering
• Good walking shoes
• Warm and water-proof hiking boots (if trekking)
• A sweater
• A jacket (for colder weather in the evenings)
• Bathing suits (there are several hot springs near Machu Picchu)
• A hat rather than a cap so that it covers the neck too
• Scarves, gloves, and hats (during dry season)
• Poncho (during wet season)
Put the following toiletries in zip-lock bags as the high altitude may cause explosions and leaks!
• Bug spray
• Itch relief ointment
• Small first-aid kit (if trekking)
• Altitude sickness tablets (if needed)
• Chap stick (your lips will get dry from the altitude/sun)
Be sure to take with you a small, water-resistant, light-weight backpack (Osprey backpacks are a good option) that you can fit the above toiletries and following travel essentials in for use on day trips and excursions.
• Camera and chargers
• Extra camera battery (essential for multiple day treks)
• Extra memory cards
• Tripods (cannot enter Machu Picchu, but for elsewhere in the Sacred Valley)
• Any personal medication (be sure to bring your prescription with you and enough medication to last your entire trip)
• Money in small denominations (even if taking an all-inclusive tour – there are always great souvenirs you may spot!)
• Re-usable water bottle … with plenty of water!
• Energy-giving Snacks
• Watch (tours may give you a time to meet up)
• Passport and a photocopy (leave the original locked in your hotel room!)
• Travel Insurance documentation
• Extra zip-lock or dry bags (to keep electronics in during wet season)
• An umbrella (for wet season, but note these are not allowed at Machu Picchu)
For those of you planning on trekking, including the world famous Inca Trail, speak with your tour guide in advance. More senior travelers may like to consider bringing a trekking pole to aid walking. For certain activities, you will need more intense hiking equipment, but it is cheap and easy to rent virtually anything in Cusco (and much easier than bringing it all the way from home with you). Camping gear is always provided by tours, except of course for any additional outerwear you may need.
Now you know what to pack for Cusco and Machu Picchu you’ll see being fully prepared only requires a little bit of planning. But don’t worry if you forget something, you can always buy most things you leave at home in Lima or Cusco.
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