Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is on most people’s bucket lists. It’s an ancient Incan archaeological site set in the middle of the hills in Cusco, Peru, and is a real treat to visit. It boasts some spectacular ancient architecture and will give you a special feeling once you step inside.
Like most places you visit, there are a few special things you need to make sure you are packing to make the most out of your trip and to enjoy the day to the fullest. You won’t want to leave any of these behind or it could dampen your day.
Let’s take a look at the essentials for visiting Machu Picchu to help you in packing your day pack.
This is THE most important thing you need to remember. You won’t be able to get into the site without it as your ticket will have the same details as your passport on it. It’s also cool to get a stamp in it from Machu Picchu as you enter as a souvenir.
2. Extra Cash
You won’t need it inside Machu Picchu but will do if you decide to save any bags in the lockers outside or head to the restaurant up there. A few items are banned from going in now, like snacks, so you may be asked to keep them locked up until you come out again.
Snacks have been banned from Machu Picchu nowadays due to littering on the ancient site. You are also not allowed to take in water in plastic bottles. However, you can fill up a flask or camelback and take that in no problem.
You will be walking around in the sun for a few hours so we really recommend taking water in with you in a reusable, non-plastic container if you can.
You can’t go to one of the most amazing sights in the world and leave with no photos. There are so many iconic images to capture and you’ll want to make sure you remember your trip forever.
You can take any kind of camera in with you, but you need to be careful about extra equipment as it probably isn’t allowed inside. If you don’t have a professional or handheld camera, your cell phone will do the trick.
Don’t forget their chargers either as you don’t want to be caught short and not capture a picture just when you get to the perfect spot because the battery is gone.
5. Bug Spray
This is one of the most important items that you really need to double-check is in your day pack. The bugs aren’t dangerous, but man, will they bite! It’s not rare to see visitors wandering around Cusco in shorts with a minimum of 50 bug bites all over their legs.
It can ruin the rest of your day, and the few that follow. They are extremely itchy and can stop you concentrating on the more important parts of your trip. Be sure to buy and pack a spray or cream high in DEET and of good quality, otherwise, you’ll be spending more on anti-itching spray afterward!
6. Sun Protection
This includes everything you need to help protect your eyes and skin from the hot Cusco sun. Remember that you are at a higher altitude here so the sun can burn and do damage a lot quicker than at lower levels.
You will need to make sure you have a high-factor sunscreen, some polarized sunglass, and a wide-brimmed hat. We’re not being over the top. You really should be taking good care of your skin when you are so close to the sun’s rays.
7. Thin Clothes
Most of the year you’ll find that Machu Picchu is very sunny and can be hot. First thing in the morning, not so much, but it soon warms up. You’ll be walking around a lot of the time so it will get even hotter.
It’s a good idea to have some thin long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. This is, again, to avoid bug bites but to keep you cool at the same time. Shorts and t-shirt can be used, but beware of the bugs and sunburn.
8. Comfortable Footwear
Some of you may be going to Machu Picchu for the day and then heading back to Cusco, and some of you may have been on a trek for days before visiting. Whichever one you do, you’ll want to have comfy shoes.
Hiking boots can be used, but aren’t necessary. You won’t be walking over a lot of difficult terrains like on a trek, and you’ll be on your feet for hours on end, so the perfect sneakers and comfy socks are a must.
9. Light Waterproof
Even if you get to the top and the sun is shining brightly, that doesn’t mean that rain isn’t on the cards. The weather in Cusco is highly unpredictable and it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have some waterproofs on you, whether it be a raincoat or a poncho.
Make sure it’s not heavy as you may be carrying it in your daypack all day. However, you should have one, just in case.
10. Swimming Suit
If you get to Aguas Calientes the day before the visit to Machu Picchu, you will likely have some time to visit the hot springs in the town. They are very relaxing after a few days of trekking and are a welcome rest for anyone who’s been touring Cusco for a few days.
You’ll also get a chance for a dip after the morning tour of Machu Picchu. You are going to be hot and sweaty, so an hour or so in the relaxing springs is the perfect treat before you head back to Cusco.
Be sure to pack a towel, comb, and bags for wet clothes if you do decide to get in the water.
These are all the essential items you need to have in your bag when visiting Machu Picchu. Whatever you do, though, don’t pack too much. Remember you are carrying the back all day so you want it to be light and easy to carry so you can enjoy the site as much as possible.
Written by: Liv Palmer