By Maureen Santucci
Visiting the Inca Trail soon? Check out these tips for a great trek!
Your Inca Trail Checklist
One of the most important things to remember is your passport. It’s checked on the Inca Trail, at the entrance to Machu Picchu and on your return train.
While there are bathrooms (of a sort) along the way, there isn’t going to hot running water or even soap. Bring along toilet paper, moist towelettes, and alcohol gel so you can be as comfortable as possible.
Along the lines of bathroom comfort, bring whatever type of diarrhea medication works well for you. Most visitors to Peru do have a tendency to have stomach issues at some point and you don’t want that to ruin your trek. Bring a flashlight along for visiting the bathrooms in the night.
The sun can be quite intense during the day. Sunglasses, a hat, and sun block are all vital for ensuring that you don’t get burned. On the other hand, even in the so-called dry season it can sometimes rain—so be sure to bring along a rain coat or poncho as well. Insect repellent is also a must.
Speaking of rain, if you don’t have a fancy liner to protect your clothes from getting wet, a giant ziplock bag can do wonders. The last thing you want is to be left without dry socks, not to mention clothes to change into when you get into camp.
Another handy thing to have once you get to camp are shoes to change into and give your feet a break from the ones you’re hiking in. It can be useful to use trekking sandals as your spares just in case you actually need to hike in them for some reason.
Of course you’re going to bring water bottles but it’s a good idea to bring metal ones. If it’s chilly at night, you can fill them with boiled water (you’ll have a cook with you). They’ll help keep you warm in your sleeping bag and you’ll have fresh drinking water in the morning.
Bring along some cash for the trail as there are no ATMs until you get into Aguas Calientes. If you’re in the Winay Wayna campsite on your last night, there will be things to buy like cookies, candy, and beer. You’ll also typically say goodbye to your porters and cook that night so this is usually when the group will tip them. Even if you don’t have a personal porter, there will be some assigned to your group to carry equipment and food.
Last but not least, it may go without saying but be sure you have extra batteries and memory cards for your camera. Some people even like to bring along a cheap backup camera as well. For most, this is a trip of a lifetime and not to be repeated. Don’t be left without photographic memories of it.
Originally from the US, Maureen Santucci now calls the ancient Peruvian capital of Cusco home, where she has lived and worked for over 4 years. She wrote this article on behalf of Peru for Less, specialists in hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.