5 Surprising Things You Should Pack For Hiking In Peru
Hiking through Peru is on the bucket list of nearly every traveler I know.
The country's serene landscapes, spiritual connection, friendly people and rich history makes it the ideal destination for anyone trying to reconnect with their own self or in search for something they didn't even know they were looking for.
I was lucky enough to tag along on a lodge-to-lodge trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu with Mountain Lodges of Peru, a guided tour company for the adventurous traveler, as part of a series of stories for Travel+Leisure.
While my guides were more than prepared for anything Peru threw our way, there are still a few things I'd recommend all travelers pack for hiking along the ancient Inca Trail. Because trust me, no matter how well prepared your guides are you're going to thank me for telling you to pack some wet wipes.
1. Wet Wipes
For real, these bad boys came in HANDY. Let's just get it out of the way now, the bathrooms along the routes aren't ideal and/or don't exist at all. Bring a little pack of wet wipes, but just make sure they are environmentally friendly like these Stall Mates wipes. Beyond the bathroom, they are also useful for "showering" along the trail or simply tidying up before eating.
Oh, and one more unsavory note, make sure to bring a zip lock bag with you because you'll need to dispose of the wipes properly, meaning you may need to carry them with you for a bit.
2. Waterproof protection
It's key to invest in a waterproof (NOT water repellent) bag before heading off to Peru. It can turn from a perfectly sunny day to a torrential downpour in an instant and the last thing you'll want to do is unpack a soaking wet bag at the end of your hike. This tip is even more important if you're planning to bring any electronics such as a cell phone or camera with you.
If you don't want to invest in a new bag at least think about purchasing a lightweight poncho that also covers your pack. Yes, you'll look 100% ridiculous, but not everything is for the 'gram.
3. Your Passport
I can hear you saying "yeah, duh" from here, but I don't mean simply packing your passport to get on the plane. Literally bring your passport everywhere with you because you're going to need it.
Every hotel you check into along the way will need to see it, the conductors on Inca Rail and Peru Rail need to see it (twice), you'll need it to enter Machu Picchu and again if you choose to hike up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. And you can even have your passport stamped when you leave Machu Picchu, which is perhaps the coolest stamp you can add to the collection. Just make sure to keep it somewhere very, very safe during your travels.
You can either load up on a yummy granola mix at home or purchase some locally before you climb, but just make sure to have something to munch on along your chosen route as days can get pretty long along the trail. Seriously, you can go hours without seeing another human, let alone a store selling food.
Moreover, there are no vendors inside Machu Picchu (thank God, let's hope it stays this way forever), so if you're the type to get hangry make sure to pack a bar before you head in.
5. Water purifier
It's recommended that tourists avoid drinking tap water in Peru and finding bottled water is not always possible. Luckily a product like LifeStraw will only set you back about $18. The system can remove 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites and filters to 0.2 microns. The system can also filter up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without the use of iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals.
So if you're just day-tripping a bottle of water should suffice, but if there's any hiking or camping along your Peru journey this may be a worthwhile investment, even if it's just for the peace of mind of having it.