The Salkantay Trek is one of the most underrated treks in all of Peru. This challenging hike takes you up to snowy peaks and through lush cloud forests. Packing for so many climate zones can be a little intimidating.
So, you’ve finally signed up to trek the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, huh? You ultimately want to see Machu Picchu in all it's glory, but you want to work for it. In fact, you want to work so hard that you chose to skip the already-tough Inca Trail and make a b-line straight towards it's more challenging neighbour, Salkantay. You’re going to be out in the middle of the wilderness - or the boons as we like to say back home - hiking in high altitudes up mountains, past glaciers and through cloud forest jungles. The terrain will be rugged, the weather unpredictable and you've paid so much money to tackle this trek that you need to make sure you've packed EVERYTHING.
Okay, that was a little bit on the dramatic side, but I've been in that same situation once before and, being an experienced hiker, I have compiled a list of everything that we will be bringing in order to be as comfortable as possible on this painstakingly long trek. Keep reading, because this post is packed with tips and tricks to get youself well prepared to reach the ultimate end goal - Machu Picchu.
If you haven't already, check out the YouTube video we created based on this list! It's packed full of hilariously awkward moments caught on camera - we're just getting used to this whole 'vlogging' thing, okay? This video is our very first Vlog and we are excited to create more in the future, support us by giving it a big ol' thumbs up!
Before we get started, I thought I'd mention that you're going to want to pack everything you need, but as little as possible. So leave that third pair of shoes behind, and don't worry about packing a full-sized pillow. Remember, everything that you bring needs to be carried up high mountain passes, and over varying technical terrain. In this case, less is truly more.
A day bag is mandatory, but size will depend on personal preference. Your day bag will need to be big enough to hold daily essentials such as sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks and a raincoat. Try to find a bag with an adjustable waist clip in order to keep the weight off of your shoulders and onto your hips.
Most trekking companies will hire horsemen and porters to carry the majority of your gear. There are usually weight restrictions limiting each traveller to a few pounds of clothing and extras, so make sure to check with your company.
1 x Daypack - 20-30L
TIP: Before you purchase your day bag, walk around with it on, get a feel for the size, and for the straps, pockets and clips. When you get home fill it up with everything you plan on packing, walk around the block a few times - I'm serious. If you're sore or tired after a few minutes, you may want to consider either packing less, or getting a smaller pack.
Proper footwear will be very important to ensure your comfort during your hike. Make sure that you prepare for this trek early and have time to break in your hiking boots. Boots with a stiffer shank are proven to be a pain to break in so make sure that you rack up a few kilometres in them before you depart. When you're out shopping for shoes, try to find a pair that is water-resistant and contains Gor-Tex technology.
1 x Hiking boots
1 x Flip flops - These will be handy to switch into during lunch breaks and at the camps in the evening. If you are embarking on the 5-day trek you may have the option to enjoy the local hot springs.
1 x Casual shoes - These will be good to change into during downtime and at the camps as well.
Pack clothes that are lightweight, versatile, and quick dry. Layering clothing is a great way to keep you travelling light, while being prepared for anything. The temperature can change drastically throughout the day while on this trek, so make sure that you pack plenty of warm and cold weather clothing.
6 x Hiking socks - Arguably one of the most important pieces of gear that you will bring. Try to find technical, sweat-wicking fabrics in order to prevent blisters.
1 x Thermal socks - The first few days are at higher altitude and it can get quite chilly up there. Keep your feet warm and cozy at night with some thermal socks.
2 x Hiking pants
5 x Underwear 1 x Base Layer - This includes a long sleeve shirt and pants, you will need this if you are camping out at altitude in order to stay warm.
1 x Sweater - Make sure this is warm, versatile and breathable if possible.
1 x Hat - You can go crazy with those hiking hats that have bug nets attached to them, but a normal ball cap should be more than enough to keep the sun away.
2 x Bathing suit - For the hot springs, and if you're very brave, Humantay Lake.
3 x Sports bra
2 x Athletic shorts
3 x Athletic t-shirts/tank tops
2 x Athletic long sleeve
Good hiking gear will make the entire trek more comfortable, it will keep your body at a good temperature and keep you dry. Investing some money into hiking gear is always a good idea, but you don't have to go crazy with getting the best products on the market. Make sure that everything you do purchase is comfortable.
TIP: It is very important that you keep yourself well hydrated during the trek. When you are at higher altitudes, you actually get dehydrated a lot faster, and headaches are a very common side-effect of this. To make sure that you're getting your fill of water, pack a water bladder that can at least hold 2-3 L.
1 x Light rain jacket - Important to pack for any season. Rain is very common in the Andes and is quite unpredictable. We use the Arcteryx Beta SL Jackets.
1 x Mid Layer jacket - It gets quite cold at high altitudes, you will need to bundle up to stay warm throughout the trek and overnight. A mid-layer jacket that is insulated will pack small, and keep your mid-section warm! We have the Arcteryx Atom Jackets and we love them.
1 x Waterproof pants - You can get a decent quality pair at Mountain Warehouse, these pack small which is nice.
1 x Gloves - Mittens work too, trust me, you'll want these when it starts getting cold.
1 x Toque
1 x Neck gaiter - optional
2 x Boot bands - These work great to keep your pants from dragging on the ground.
1 x Lightweight sleeping bag - If you have one, if not these can be rented from most tour companies.
1 x Headlamp - These will be useful for early morning treks as well as bathroom stops in the middle of the night.
1 x Reusable water bottle - It might seem redundant to bring a water bladder as well as a water bottle, but if you plan on packing electrolyte mixes, then the water bottle will be very handy. Plus it can act as a back up if you happen to run out of water.
1 x Trekking poles - These are optional, but a lot of people enjoy trekking with them for balance. If you are not used to hiking these distances, of if you aren't the best at balancing, and walking over rough terrain, then definitely pick up a pair.
1 x Gaiters - Gaiters will keep your feet and shoes dry in the event that it rains. The most uncomfortable thing that you can experience is wet feet, so be well prepared!
Make sure that you pack any additional electronics you plan on bringing such as, Ipad, laptop and the applicable chargers. Don't pack anything you won't need or use while on the trek, electronics can easily weigh you down.
1 x Cellphone and Phone charger
1 x Electric plug adapter
1 x Camera, additional SD card and batteries/charger/accessories
1 x External battery - you may not be able to charge your device very often. Make sure that you bring one of these to ensure your camera stays charged!
When it comes to toiletries, you know what you need and everyone will be a little bit different. The list below sums up the essentials, but you may choose to pack more or less depending on your personal preference.
1 x Deodorant - This link is to Lush's deodorant, because who wants aluminum in their deodorant anyways?
1 x Face wash
1 x Moisturizer - For use on your face and body. It gets pretty dry at altitude so if you are prone to dry skin, make sure you pack something to keep it hydrated.
1 x Sunscreen - This is important to pack in order to protect yourself from the harsh UV rays. The sun is stronger when you're high up, so be safe and lather up.
1 x Hand sanitizer
1 x Toothbrush
1 x Toothpaste - Try these toothpaste tablets!
1 x Soap bar
1 x Shampoo/Conditioner - try the shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush!
1 x Floss
1 x Chapstick
TIP: Try to find a local store that has non-liquid versions of shampoo, soap and toothpaste, it'll save room and weight in your bag. You may not have the ability to shower while you're on your trek, but generally the night before you reach Machu Picchu you will be staying in a hotel, and showers will be available. Bring some shampoo and soap for this glorious shower.
Female Specific Hygiene:
Yea us females need some special attention, check out this list of travel products that every female needs, in the meantime, the essentials are listed below:
1 x Hairbrush
1 x Pocket mirror
1 x Makeup remover wipes
5 x Hair elastics and bobby pins - You may find MANY surprising uses for these while on your journey
1 x Dry shampoo
Makeup - When it comes to makeup, pack just the essentials. You won't have much time to apply it in the morning and you will have to lug it around with you all day. So unfortunately in this case, less is more.
It's important that you are well hydrated and well fed. Keep your body fuelled right and it will preform optimally the entire trek! Eat plenty of carbs to replenish your energy, and pack something salty for all that sweating you will be doing.
2 x Electrolyte tablets - We prefer Nuun tablets because they taste great and come in very small tubes (use code TRYNUUN30 for 30% off your first purchase)!
5 x Protein bars - You tour company will likely provide you with plenty to snack on, but if you're a picky eater or if you want to make sure that you don't go too hungry, pack a few of these just in case.
1 x Package of your favourite candy - We don't eat candy often but when completing long treks 5 days in a row, we decided that we should treat ourselves and enjoy some sweets - who's with me?
TIP: Pack a few extra non-perishable snacks with you, (think protein bars, crackers, and trail mix). We packed sunflower seeds and candy as well as protein bars. These will get you through times when you just can't find anything suitable to eat.
You want to make sure that you are well prepared for any challenge you might face, bring a mini first aid kit - or make your own - just to be safe.
1 x Advil, or anti-inflammatory
1 x Motion sickness medication
1 x Package of water purification tablets
1 x Travellers diarrhea medication
1 x Package of bandaids - Assorted sizes is best
1 x Bottle of bug spray
1 x Antibiotic cream
1 x Birth control, or Natural Cycles
1 x Prescription of altitude sickness pills
1 x package of blister pads - These will definitely help you cope with the inevitable blisters you may experience.
TIP: If you have any special medications and vitamins, make sure that you bring enough of them to get you through the trek. If you have a mini First Aid Kit, bring that along with you, it may come in handy.
TIP: Make sure to stop by the doctors before travelling to Peru. They may suggest getting specific vaccines, as well as taking specific prescriptions for altitude and malaria prevention.
1 x Glasses or contacts
1 x Glasses cleaner and contact solutions
1 x Copy of important documents and ID- Print these out on paper and take a photo of them kept your phone, you need to show proof of a return flight when you land in Peru
5 x Ziplock bags - Use these to keep your electronics dry if it rains, and to keep any small items such as snacks separated in your bag.
1 x Turkish towel - Saves space and keeps your bag light. Much bigger than the typical microfibre towels and dries a lot quicker. Buy Now on Amazon!
1 x Sunglasses
1 x Book - For the downtime at camp
2 x Toilet paper rolls - bring more than you think you will need....trust me
Passport - You need this to get onto the trail, so don't forget to bring it and keep it somewhere safe!
Peurvian Cash - If you tour company gives you the option to go zip-lining or to some hot springs, you really don't want to miss out on the opportunity. There won't be any debit machines out there either.
Travel Insurance - Make sure that this covers emergency evacuation by helicopter, as well as trekking up altitudes past 4,000m.
If you know that you need to bring something that isn't listed here, then make note of it and don't forget it!