We´re currently backpacking around Peru and as outdoor enthusiasts the classic Inca Trail was a must do on our itinerary. We booked our trip back in March for June so we´ve had plenty of time to prepare for the 3 night/4 day trek.
First of all, a quick round-up of the trek. The whole trail was amazing. There were plenty of Incan ruins to see on the way as well as copious amounts of steps going up and going down – a trip not for the faint hearted! The first day was supposed to be the easiest but there was still a fair bit of incline to get through. The second day was dubbed the hardest, it was merely steps, steps and more steps, going up as well as going down, pretty hard on the knees! We reached the highest point of the trail on this day. The third day was the most interesting day. We stopped off at 3 ruins throughout the day and hiked through the rainforest where the colours of the flowers were just beautiful. To end the third day we had to walk down more than 3,000 steps down, also known as the gringo killer! The final day we walked a total of around 1.5 hours to reach Machu Picchu!
Walking boots – Make sure you´ve got a decent pair of boots on. We prefer the boots which provide ankle support as the terrain is very uneven and it is not uncommon for ankles to roll over. Other properties to lookout for is a high level of grip, especially if its been raining as the steps can be slippy. This brings us on to another essential property, water resistance. The weather in the mountains is highly unpredictable and you need to be prepared for all weathers. Another tip is to ensure that your boots are worn in as you don´t want any rubbing or blisters after the first day.
Walking socks – A good pair of walking socks are a must on this hike. Thicker socks will provide more comfort, and as it gets pretty cold at night, you will be thankful for a warm pair of socks to wear to sleep. A good excample is the Brasher Dual Trail Sock which are two layered and also provide thermoregulating properties.
Walking trousers/Shorts – It can get pretty hot during the walk so some zip off short/trousers are ideal. It also means that you can pack a pair of shorts as well as trousers in one item saving space in your bag.
Waterproof Jacket – As mentioned, the weather can be unpredictable in the mountains so a lightweight waterproof jacket is a must. One which is small to pack would be ideal as you will have to carry everything in your rucksack unless you have hired a porter. A good example would be the Craghoppers Endurance Jacket.
Warm fleece/Jumper – At night the mountains can be very cold and at such a high altitude, you will need some decent items of warm clothing. A warm jumper/hoody/fleece is a must as once you get to camp, your body temperature cools almost instantly. I took the Icebreaker Powder Hood as its thermoregulating properties which means that it can keep you warm at when cold and relatively cool when its hot.
Thermals – It is best to bring some thermals with you to sleep in at night to ensure that you are warm. Sleeping in tents in the mountains can be very cold but some of the best thermals for this are Icebreaker garments. We slept in Icebreaker leggings and a long sleeved Icebreaker top. Considering how thin the items were, they provided much warmth and didn´t take up much space in my bag.
Rucksack – If you are not hiring a porter, you will need as a minimum a medium sized bag – maybe around 40 litres. It will need to fit 4 days worth of clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag and a sleeping mat as well as snacks. A side pocket to hold a bottle of water also comes useful.
Sleeping bag – a decent sleeping bag is a must. Down sleeping bags are highly recommended as they can pack up prety small and provide a lot of warmth.