I read packing lists before I flew out for Machu Picchu, sure I did. Did I take it as the bible? No! In an attempt to save you the sore feet, a drenched bra and severe diarrhoea that put a tiny damper on an incredible four days, I have scribed this list of absolute essentials. It’s not a comprehensive list, of course, undies are required (a spare pair might not go amiss either, I won’t elaborate on that point). This is once in a lifetime opportunity for most so you owe yourself to get it right.
- Waterproof poncho – Primarks’ ‘waterproof’ mac-in-a-bag is not the answer here. The soaking material wrapped itself around my cold, wet arms, whilst a puddle gathered at my neck, releasing drips intermittently down my spine. The trail is dotted with multi-coloured ponchos, embrace the fashion. In fact, be really clever and get yourself one made for ninja turtles (extra space to cover your backpack)
- Rucksack cover – A lovely Korean girl saved my ass by giving up her backpack cover as it wasn’t something I had thought of. You will experience all four seasons up there! Unless you want your phone and belongings swimming in your rucksack – protect it
- Flip Flops – Why? Because when you have just trekked for 10 hours, got back and washed your feet, the last thing you want to do is put your hiking boots back on. Having something to slip on to go to the loo in the night would have been much more practical too, I can only imagine
- Socks – How I decided that one pair of hiking socks, two pairs of thin socks and two pairs of trainer socks would be sufficient, I do not know! I mean trainer socks? Treat yourself to a pair of trekking socks for each day, at least
- Spare batteries – for those long nights alone in the tent Jajajaja. I was all prepared with my head torch – check. Just omitted to change the batteries or bring spares so when it didn’t work I had only my tiny handheld flashlight, not ideal when mounting tiny stone stairs at 4.30am
- Solar powered battery charging pack – Never even knew they existed – bloody genius!
- Zip-off waterproof trousers – Number one thing I am going to buy from Go Outdoors when I get back
- Gloves – I may have been happy when I purchased my magic gloves for 59p in Savers. Go for weatherproof gloves, if only for the trek through Warmiwañuska (at 4215 meters this place should not have warm in its name)
- Drogas – I spent ages going through my out of date, strangely prescribed medicines from over the world to have a concise medical supply: which I left in my backpack at my hosts. Don’t spend all night on the shitter cursing yourself because you packed your mascara and not your Immodium
- Bladder – Personally I wish I could have cut out my bladder on this trip. But one of these drinking vestibules where you have the tube right by your lips when you need a sip is an idea excelente. I remembered the advice of one of my yoga students as soon as clocked someone with one
- Toilet roll – No explanation required and for the record I had plenty…even baby wipes too (which I am sure I opened at a festival six months ago but amazingly were still wet)
- Antibacterial hand gel – a must
- Bug Spray – Deet all the way, my first bite smack bang on my forehead still shines like a lantern
- Sun cream – I learnt my lesson even in the lows of Lima. Your face is so close to the sun: I even bought SPF 90!
Bring sufficient clothes for layering, it’s just like being in England – jacket on, jacket off. It will get really cold at points so throw in your thermals. The porters will carry up to six kilos of your baggage in a duffel bag provided by your tour company (if you are with an ace organisation like Intrepid) so you can leave your travel towel and everything you won’t need until the evening in there. Pack all your daily essentials in your 25- 35 litre daypack.
I carried my own sleeping bag all the way here, tying and untying from the front of my backpack depending on the airlines’ preference. I slept with this sleeping bag on my first night at my Couchsurfing hosts in Cusco, I was shivering all night. I rented a super thick sleeping back from Intrepid for $20. It was well worth it, but still, that’s two nights hostel accommodation so if you have got a sleeping back with a decent rating, bring it along. Whilst we are on to renting equipment – everyone had hiking poles. I rented my pair for $16.
If you haven’t already read my blog ‘Porter’ have a quick look. If you have any questions on preparing for your trip, give me a shout.
And now? Just be excited, you are about to experience the trip of a lifetime!