What to pack for Machu Picchu

Seeing Machu Picchu has always been a dream. But it was only when my first visit was finally near that I started worrying about what to pack. I am not the experienced traveler that just throws in a couple of items into his backpack and is fine. I need active planing and consideration.

So I did my research, as you should too. Stumbled over this excellent Machu Picchu packing list and sort of compiled by own on this basis. The first thing you should know is that Machu Picchu is located inside the Peruvian rain forest. This means there will be a high humidity, actually quite a high chance for (short) rain falls (except you visit during the rainy season). It is hot and the altitude is quite high. So here are the things you really should take in my opinion

  • comfortable walking shoes. Machu Picchu is located on a mountain saddle – that being said the terrain is more or less even inside the ruins but with big cobbled stones. So comfortable walking shoes that secure your ankles are a benefit
  • a breathable, fast drying hiking shirt or t-shirt. If you don’t get wet because of the rain, you will get wet because you will sweat a lot. So having one (also for the rest of Peru) really is recommended. If you just tour the actual ruins a normal cotton shirt is probably enough
  • breatable, fast drying hiking pants. See above
  • a light windbreaker / water proof anorak / poncho: The weather in Machu Picchu can change rather quickly. Rains can and do happen. Umbrellas are not really recommended – they are somewhat cumbersome since the ruins and pathways are in parts rather narrow. Sometimes you need your hands to hold to rails and walls.
  • A water canteen. The standard tour through Machu Picchu takes about 2 hours. You need to pack some water – especially on a hot day. There are no vending machines or food stalls INSIDE Machu Picchu. Your ticket entiles you to leave the ruins once though.
  • Photo gear: Obviously you will want to take pictures inside! So bring all you can carry *smirk*. Be aware that tripods are not really allowed anymore. Some still carry them in sucessfully
  • Walking sticks: If you are not so sure footed these are highly recommended. Though I might warn you: they might tell you to leave them at the entrance (there are locker rooms there)
  • small day pack: You can’t take big backpacks inside the ruins. it is not allowed – but a small daypack will help you carry your belongings and keep your hands free
  • A little cushion: There are no benches inside Machu Picchu – only sheer rock. Still the Inca citadel invites you to contemplate it. So if you wanna sit and don’t want to get a cold bottom, a little cushion will help you out. I found it to be very handy. Especially if you are waiting for the sunset
  • Last but not least: Bug repellant. There are nasty bugs inside MP!!

What not to pack for Machu Picchu

  • Food is also not allowed inside the ruins
  • Big backpacks are also not allowed
  • You really don’t need any warm clothing. Machu Picchu is very tropical, humid and hot. Cusco is another matter – can get really chilly at night. But for Machu Picchu alone, no warm clothings are needed
  • Things against altitude sickness. Machu Picchu itself is only 2,400 meters above sea level. Altitude sickness is not an issue, even though you will notice the height.


Well then, I think i covered it all. Hope my little list could help you planing your perfect stay in Machu Picchu. A little tip at the end. Don’t overthink it! 😉


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