August 10, 2018 3 min read
Peru is one of the hottest hiking destinations in South America at the moment. The iconic Inca Trail and Machu Picchu have captured the attention and imagination of visitors for years. Even though the rest of South America has a lot of hiking terrain to offer, it seems Peru always wins out as the most popular and sought after. For many, a hike down these famous trails is an item high on their bucket list. However, hiking in Peru is no simple feat. It is critical that all necessary items are packed and accessible. Here are some things to pack when doing the Machu Picchu hike.
Despite being well-traversed, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu can be a bit tricky to navigate. Some hikers end up straying from the trail unknowingly. For this reason, it is important to pack directions in more than one form. A standard map of the trail and area will be the most helpful and accurate source. Also, a compass is always a good idea to have handy in order to properly orientate which way is north. For those travelers really worried about getting lost, a GPS locator can also be packed for emergency purposes.
Peru hiking is no walk in the park. Hikers will cover several thousand feet of elevation change up and down throughout the Inca Trail. It is important to pack proper hiking gear that can handle long days of wear and tear. These items include solid hiking boots, walking poles and hiking clothing. Wool socks are recommended for heat and protection. Longer sleeves are a good defense against the sun and for warmth early in the morning or late into the evenings. The best hiking pants are ones that are breathable, waterproof and comfortable to wear for longer durations.
One of the most important decisions to make when hiking the Inca Trail is choosing the best backpack. A bag that is too large will be uncomfortable and may slow down the estimated hiking time. On the other hand, a smaller backpack won't fit all of the necessary items. It is important to find a size that fits somewhere in between too large and too small. This happy-medium will provide enough space without becoming too heavy or uncomfortable. Some other factors too look for when choosing a backpack include spinal support, enough pockets, sturdy frame and padded straps.
Although clouds roll over every once in a while, the trail to Machu Picchu is a very exposed hiking region. In these higher altitudes, the weather will be cooler than other Peru hikes. However, it is a common misconception that the cooler climate means less sun damage. The sun still has the potential to cause damage up on the trail as it does anywhere else it shines brightly. Packing sun protection is important to keep the skin protected and prevent any annoying rashes. Sunscreen is an obvious must, but clothing can also be of great benefit. Some hats include an SPF protection rating and a rim that will block sun from the face. Sunglasses with a UV protection rating is also a great addition.
The trail to Machu Picchu may see hikers traveling for hours on end. Packing sufficient food and water sources is a critical part of completing this journey. Foods that are high in caloric density are always great options when going on a hike. Some of these foods include peanuts, peanut butter, dried fruits, granola, etc. Enough water must also be packed for this hike. Although water bottles are a good idea, bladders are much more ergonomic and space-saving. They also help to prevent unnecessary stops as they can be used while on the move.
Hiking to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not be soon to forget. Before the journey can begin, however, it is critical to pack the necessary items. Proper hiking gear, enough food and water, directions and a solid backpack are among the most important items to carry. Keep a journal and take lots of pictures to help keep those fond memories of hiking in Machu Picchu for the future.
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