Trekking in Peru is easily some of the best hiking you can experience, and is one of the most popular activities for adventurers traveling to South America.
Peru’s breathtaking Salkantay Trek is a hiker’s dream: five days of trekking through spectacular natural scenery before arriving at the iconic Machu Picchu.
Camping, hiking, and exploring the Salkantay Trek is a wonderful travel experience, but deciding what to pack for its diverse climate and walking conditions can be a challenging task even for the most experienced trekkers.
Below, let’s walk through the essentials that every adventure seeker will need to pack to make the experience a little bit more comfortable.
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What Does the 5-Day Salkantay Trek Tour Include?
Known as the ‘alternative Inca Trail’, the Salkantay Trek is an incredibly scenic trek that takes you past turquoise glacier lakes, natural hot springs, and snow-capped mountain peaks.
While you can hike the trail independently, it’s worth remembering that you will have to carry enough camping equipment, hiking gear, and provisions for five days.
Because of the length and altitude of the hike, a trusted Salkantay trek tour is recommended. This way you will be able to focus on hiking and experiencing the trek’s natural wonders.
The guided hike includes five days of walking and three nights of camping. The final (fourth) night is spent at accommodation in Aguas Calientes, from where you will head off to Machu Picchu.
On the first day of the tour, you’ll get beautiful views of the snow-capped Humantay mountain.
Our 5-day Salkantay Trek tour to Machu Picchu includes:
- Hotel pick-up and dropoff
- Professional bilingual guide
- Sleeping bag and trekking poles
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- Accommodation in double or triple rooms
- Shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back
- Luggage carried by mules (up to 7 kg)
What Should I Bring to Salkantay Trek?
Packing light and smart for the Salkantay Trek is key.
Whether you’re hiking in the rainy or dry season, exploring a detailed Machu Picchu travel guide is a great starting point for deciding what to take with you and what to leave behind.
Along with a refillable water bottle and a small daypack to carry your daily essentials, here are the most important things you’ll need to bring along on your Salkantay Trek tour.
Be prepared for all kind of weather…and enjoy the beautiful views on the way.
Your documents are the one thing you cannot afford to leave behind, and the most important items you need to carry in your daypack.
- Passport – You will need your passport at the beginning of the hike, as well as when entering Machu Picchu.
- Receipt of Payment – While you might not need them, bringing along any proof of payment is always sensible.
Weather in the Peruvian Andes has two dominant seasons – a cool, dry winter (May to September) and a warmer, but wetter, summer (October to April). The same holds true for Salkantay, as well as your end destination – Machu Picchu.
During the wet season, rainfall tends to be very strong, so it’s often not the best time to hike in the Salkantay (note that the trek is also closed for maintenance during the entire month of February).
With that in mind, we recommend doing the trek during the dryer months (from April to October/early November). During these times, the days are often sunny and you can enjoy the dazzling sights without clouds or fog obstructing your view.
Regardless of the time you choose to do the Salkantay Trek, check out the Machu Picchu weather before taking off to ensure that you’ve packed accordingly and avoid unpleasant surprises along the way.
Proper clothing is extremely important when doing a high-altitude trekking tours, such as the Salkantay trek.
- Waterproof Jacket – Even if you’re trekking during the dry season, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some rain, so remember to pack in a water-resistant jacket.
- Windproof Jacket – It’s highly recommended to have a good-quality, compact windproof jacket.
- Exercise Tanks – Opt for quick-drying fabrics. If used as a first layer, make sure it fits snugly to the skin in order to reduce cold airflow.
- Long-Sleeved Top Layers – Your top layer clothing should be breathable and lightweight. Look for fabrics such as fleece or wool and avoid materials that absorb moisture such as cotton.
- Gloves – Gloves are a very useful item, especially in the morning or when you’re using hiking poles.
- Hats – When hiking the Salkantay Trek, you’ll need a hat that protects your face and neck from the sun. Because temperatures can get very cold in the early mornings and evenings, you should bring a warm (fleeced) hat, as well.
- Water-Resistant Hiking Pants – Water-resistant pants are a must during the rainy season, and highly recommended during winter as the weather can be unpredictable.
- Leggings – Leggings are a very versatile item; you can wear them when hiking or sleeping, or use them as an extra layer under your hiking pants.
- Shorts – While it depends on when you’re visiting, afternoons in Peru can be warm, so many trekkers prefer to wear shorts during the hike.
- Thermal Underwear – To ensure a comfortable hike, pack functional underwear made of warm but breathable material.
During the tour, you’ll sleep in real beds in breathtaking locations.
- Light Socks – Light socks are ideal for layering during colder days, sleeping, and wearing in your tent and around the campsite.
- Wool Hiking Socks – Having at least one pair of quality hiking socks for each day is important for ensuring breathability and preventing blisters.
- Waterproof Boots – Trekking shoes that don’t fit well can be one of the first things to ruin a trek. Make sure your boots are waterproof, worn-in, and comfortable.
- Lightweight Flip Flops – Flip-flops or sandals can be very helpful when taking a shower or relaxing and allowing your feet to breathe in the evenings.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Hand Sanitizer, Tissues, and Body Wipes – Bringing these items can be useful for quickly cleaning your hands or face.
- Sunscreen – Because you’ll be trekking at a high altitude, the sun intensity will be higher than normal. Choose a good quality sunscreen with high protection.
- Insect Repellent – During the Salkantay Trek, you’ll experience changes in altitude and climate zones. A bug repellent is a must, especially once you descend from the mountains to the valleys.
When doing the Salkantay trek, you’ll get to hike in a different environment every single day.
- Cell Phone – There is no cell service on the trek but your phone can still come in handy for taking pictures, listening to music, or taking notes.
- Camera – If you plan on taking more professional pictures, remember to bring your camera along with spare batteries and SD cards.
- Charging Cords/Power Bank – To ensure you capture those iconic pictures of Machu Picchu, you’ll want to be able to charge your electronic devices while in Aguas Calientes (before heading off to Machu Picchu).
- Peruvian Power Adapter – Although you won’t have access to electrical outlets for the first few days, if you’d like to recharge your devices, consider taking a power adapter, too.
Health & Medical
- Mini First Aid Kit – Although your guide will be carrying a first-aid kit, it’s still sensible to bring essentials such as bandages and medicine for headaches and stomach problems.
- Personal Medication – Don’t forget to bring any personal medications that you require (e.g. an inhaler), as well as enough feminine products (if needed).
The most rewarding moment of the tour: reaching Machu Picchu.
Ready to Explore Peru’s Natural Wonders?
With abundant natural diversity, from coast, to mountains, to jungle, Peru has long attracted backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking unique natural beauty, mysterious Inca sites, and fascinating local culture.
With plenty of different trails to choose from –all with variations in landscape – the Peruvian Andes make for some of the best trekking in South America.
Still in full Salkantay Trek preparation mode? Here are 10 things to know before visiting Machu Picchu.