In a day, I’ll be making my very first trip to South America and I’ll be starting off with this two week adventure to Peru where I’ll finally be able to hike the Inca Trail and check off another big thing off of my bucket list. In the planning process of the trip, one thing that was daunting was trying to figure out what I needed. So here I am days leading up to the Peru trip, cataloging everything that I’m bringing. This should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re going to want to pack for your trip to Peru, the Inca Trail and the Amazon Jungle.
Our 2 Week Peru Itinerary
With only so much time to work with, planning this trip was a bit of a challenge but doing research on all the highlights of the country, we decided on two things we absolutely wanted to do:
- Machu Picchu – This was a no brainer
- Amazon Jungle – At first it was the Amazon River but after realizing that it wasn’t feasible logistically, the jungle was just as enticing
Without getting into the details of our planning process (future post), here’s a quick map of everywhere we’ll be hitting during these two weeks. It’ll be quite the contrast because we have the city in Lima and Cusco, the “countryside” in the Sacred Valley, high altitude, intense hiking and backpacking, followed by lush jungles, water and animal watching. I’m not sure if I’ve done anything THIS diverse in 2 weeks but we managed to make it work.
Outfitted With OutDry
A special shout out has to go out to Columbia and Mountain Hardwear for outfitting Chantelle and I on this trip. Needing a full compliment of hiking and backpacking gear, they graciously provided several pieces that you’ll see below. What you’ll notice across several of the pieces I have is that they all have this new OutDry technology which is their version of complete waterproofing.
I’ve always held both Columbia and Mountain Hardwear in high regard for both their technology, quality, style, and overall functional-ness. The great part about Columbia is that despite producing very solid gear, they’re always reasonably priced which as a traveller I appreciate. I also just think of them as the guys that make good outdoor gear that just works. Then you have Mountain Hardwear that may be less well known but trust me, they make kickass backpacking and hiking performance gear.
Believe me when I say that I’m ecstatic to be able to put these goodies to the test in Peru.
What To Pack For Inca Trail and The Amazon Jungle
Since I had no idea what I was going to pack when I started, I thought it’d be a good idea to document everything that I’ll be bringing on this trip. I’ve broken down the packing list into various sections that’ll make it easy to digest. Here we go!
The backpack is the central piece of gear for the entire trip and with that you want to make sure you get it right. It’s important because this is the thing that will be sitting on your back for most of the trip and will also be carrying everything you’ll be living off of while on the road.
Having done several trips to Europe with a backpack and most recently, Competitours, the perfect backpack size that isn’t too big or too small is 50L. When I found out that I’d be able to test out Mountain Hardwear’s Ozonic 50 Outdry, I was very excited. This bag is packed full of features and constructed to withstand all weather conditions while still providing comfort and functionality. I’ll eventually do a full review but here’s a quick glimpse of this bad boy.
Where I had the most trouble was figuring out what to do with my day pack. On one hand, for the Inca Trail, I could use my main backpack but that’s kind of what the porters are for. From my understanding we’ll be given a large duffel and that’s where we’ll be putting in the things (up to 25kg) we want carried up. What I’ve decided to do is just keep all the non essentials in the Ozonic and run with a smaller day pack.
While I wish I could’ve gone with a smaller day pack, I decided to run with my F-Stop Loka backpack just because it’s so well suited for the camera year that I’ll be bringing and it’s extreme ruggedness and being able to handle the outdoors. The ICU keeps all of my camera gear nice and safe and for quick access I’ll have the F-Stop Navin hooked onto the waist strap for quick-draw. Another big feature of the bag is the ability to retrofit in a hydration bladder. Pulling my Geigerrig bladder from one of my numerous packs, I now have 2L water capacity built right in. This is significant because I know that staying hydrated will be critical.
- Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50 Outdry – This backpack by Mountain Hardwear is one tough son of a gun. Immediately after I got it, I could tell this thing was constructed incredibly well. What really makes this backpack shine is the fact that it’s COMPLETELY waterproof. Not a lot of backpacks can say that and with the unpredictability of the Inca Trail, that’s a very welcome feature. Other features include a top flap zipper compartment that flips around if you need the top of the backpack to be fully waterproof, flexible side pockets, and waist pockets. I have the M/L size which increases the capacity to 55L. I was also left with tons of room to spare after fitting everything in.
- F-Stop Loka – The unfortunate thing is that F-Stop recently discontinued this model this year.
Shirts & Underwear
The itinerary we’re following presented a few challenges because we’re practically going to the extremes of climates. On the Inca Trail, we’ll be dealing with mostly cold weather with some chance of precipitation. On the other end of the spectrum you have the Amazon jungle which is moist, wet, and outright hot. As a result the key to packing light was really around leveraging layers and doing a whole lot of mixing and matching depending on the situation.
For t-shirts, I decided that having 7 tees was good enough to cover a minimum of 4 nights on the Inca Trail and a few extra days in case we won’t have enough time to hand wash our clothes.
For underwear I’m going with 6 which again I made sure was enough to last the 4 days on the Inca Trail and a little more. I have 4 Exofficio’s and so that’ll be my underwear workhorse while the cotton ones are there for back up.
You’ll also notice that I have a bunch of base layers for this trip. This is necessary especially during the climb in case things get really cold. I’ve heard from others that the evenings get particularly cold. I normally use these base layers for things like snowboarding so I know that they have excellent warmth retention and are moisture wicking. I also normally don’t bust out the long sleeve merino shirt but I have that in for good measure.
Another key part of the packing are the two buttoned shirts. After chatting with a bunch of bloggers and friends, I realized that the mosquito situation in the Amazon is very serious. It’s the kind of thing where they said if you go out into the jungle with shorts, you’ll end up with at least 200 bites on your leg by the end of the day. I have 2 long sleeves to cover me up. They’re also the loose and light-coloured variety again for mosquito protection.
I’ve mentioned this before but having stuff sacks for your backpack is key to stay organized. I always use a combination of my shirt cube, mesh sacks and some water proof ones. I like how they’re all different colours and eventually you get so familiar with what you have in your pack that you can literally spot the coloured sack and know exactly what’s in it.
- Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube (M) with 7 t-shirts– This packing cube was one of the best discoveries. This helps keeps my shirts nice and tidy.
- Cactus Creek Mesh Bags (M) with PJs – These used to be sold at MEC in Canada but they seemed to have disappeared. Honestly any mesh bag will do but make sure they’re color coded. I have 3 sizes. This particular one is the medium.
- Cactus Creek Mesh Bags (M), 5x socks and underwear – If I could, all of my underwear would be the Exofficio Give-N-Go Boxer but I only have 4. Sock wise, I probably don’t need that much since I’ll be alternating between hiking shoes, flip flops and sandals but I figure why not since I have the space.
- North Face Short Sleeve Button Shirt – Picked this up at the outlet not too long ago. I packed this just to mix it up if I wanted to. The great part about this shirt is that it’s still very light.
Pants & Jacket
Packing for Peru was very different from my other trips which have been up until this point mostly tropical. Like I said, I knew we’d be dealing with a varying climate and mosquitos so I had to make sure I was ready.
Normally I’d bring a bunch of capris-type khakis but they’re not going to cut it this trip. I’ve elected to go with 2 khakis and one versatile short with lots of pockets and can double as swim trunks if needed.
Lastly is my awesome Patagonia waterproof jacket. I love this thing because it’s so light and packable. If the drops start coming down, all I have to do is pop this on and I’ll be good. Now if those droplets grow into torrential rain, I’ve brought a cheap poncho from the dollar store to cover up everything from top the bottom.
- Level Six boarder shorts – Great versatile shorts that I can wear as regular shorts or as swim trunks
- Eddie Bauer khakis – Another great purchase from the outlet. These pants have served me well for the past couple of trips.
- Khakis from GAP – This one doesn’t have a lot of pockets but I really don’t own any other khakis.
- Patagonia H2No Shell Jacket – It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring an umbrella when you can bring a waterproof jacket like this that can also double as an additional layer. Shells like this are perfect for travelling because they’re versatile, light and easily rollable.
- Kathmandu zip-up fleece – I love this one because it’s super warm.
I’ve really gone minimalistic when it comes to shoes this trip. The reason for this is that the Columbia Conspiracy Razor OutDry is designed to be so versatile. Incredibly light weight, the rubber sole is extremely grippy and designed for hiking trails. Then you throw in the OutDry and you have a shoe that’s also completely waterproof. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a good looking shoe too. Beyond that, all I have on top are my favourite flip flops. That really should be good enough to handle both the Inca Trail and the Amazon. Our eco-lodge, Refugio Amazonas Lodge, will have boots to use if we need it so I’m covered for that too.
Some of the additional things here include the quick dry towel which we might need (though I’m skeptical if we’ll actually get to use it) and the first aid kit which will be a critical piece for the Inca Trail.
I’ve also decided to throw a sleeping bag liner. Some say it’s necessary while others say it’s not but I figure for the purposes of hygiene and adding another layer of warmth at night since we’ll be renting sleeping bags from Alpaca Expeditions.
- Dry Bags – The 20L is for dirty clothes and the green one to store miscellaneous gear
- Rainbow Sandals, Double Layer Leather Sandal – I have reviewed these extensively before but I can’t go on a summer trip without these. They’re just so damn comfortable and great for extended periods of walking. Plus you never know when you’ll be hitting up a beach right?
- Columbia Conspiracy Razor OutDry – Can’t wait to use these shoes on the trail. Love that they’re water proof and the grip on these are amazing
- MSR Packtowel Personal – Don’t make the mistake I made with quick dry towels and buy a small one. It’s just not worth it to annoyingly dry yourself with something the size of a hand towel. This one is great because it’s large (XL in fact), packs into a small form factor, and dries quickly. While mostly used in hostels, this is the kind of thing that’s always nice to have with you because you never know.
- Sleeping Bag Liner – These are nice packable pieces whenever a sleeping bag is involved. Increase warmth and keeps you and the sleeping bag clean.
Here’s my toiletry set for the trip. Most of it is pretty self explanatory.
- Hair Gel – Yah forget what I said about not needing to look good.
- Cetaphil Face Cleanser – It’s all about the travel size bottles. I got this as a sample somewhere and I’ve been using it for my trips ever since.
- Bandaids – I have an assortment of sizes with me. Waterproof ones are good to have too.
- Reactine – When allergies strike.
- Immodium – This has you covered if you ever get traveler’s diarrhea.
- Electric Toothbrush – I know it’s a bit overkill but this cheap electric toothbrush keeps my teeth clean. I also pop in new batteries before I leave the house.
- Toothpaste – I really should have a travel-sized one.
- Body Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner – Courtesy of the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello.
- Tylenol Day/Night Cold – This has come in handy on numerous occasions on the road.
- Pepcid AC – This is more for the Asian Glow than anything.
- Systane Balance Eyedrops – I have dry eyes.
- Ear Plugs – I don’t normally use these but Sam might be a snorer.
- Advil – The new tablet form factor is pretty nice.
- Off Mosquito Repellent – Big cities usually aren’t a problem but again it’s one of those things where you never know.
- Alcohol Wipes – I have hand sanitizer below. This is more for use as an antiseptic to clean wounds or what have you.
- Digital Thermometer – I’ve been sick on the road before so this has always been nice to have because to buy one on the road would be very expensive.
- Sunscreen – Got this nice package courtesy of the folks at St. Pete’s.
- Tide Single Packet – Purchased this as a package of 3. I’m only bringing this because I’m trying to kill off this last one. To be perfectly honest, using regular bar soap or liquid body soap or even shampoo are just as effective for the hand-washing of clothes.
- EmergenC – This is a great boost if you feel the onset of a cold or flu.
- Multi-vitamin – Who knows is this is actually effective or not but I usually try to take a multi-vitamin a day just to ward off anything bad. It’s hard to keep a balanced intake of vitamins when travelling so the theory is that this helps with that.
- Muji Paraglider Cloth Hanging Travel Case – Last but not least is the case that carries it all. I’ve been very happy with this Muji toiletries organizer because of it’s simplicity in design and comprehensiveness in terms of pockets, zippers and elastic holders. The must-have feature for any toiletries organizer is the hook. Hanging your bag is always a better option than letting it sit on the sink especially if you’re using communal hostel washrooms.
While I try to keep most of my electronics with my daypack, inevitably I’ll end up with a bunch of things that need to be stored away.
- GoPole Grenade Grip – This is great for hand held action camming with the GoPro. In fact, most of my videos so far have been done with the help of this grip.
- Rocket Air Blaster – This is part of my camera kit to clean the lenses on an as-needed basis. This is a very useful tool because you really don’t want to be blowing with your mouth to get dust off which leads to spit flying all over.
- Mamut Headlamp – This model has since been discontinued but in general it’s a good idea to bring a headlamp because you might be doing a sunrise/sunset hike or if a power outage occurs.
- Aquapac Waterproof Case – This soft case is great because it’s extremely easy to roll away and still provides you touch control if you put your phone inside. I bring this only if I think there’s a chance I’ll have to go out into the water (i.e. kayak or canoe).
- Euro Plug Adapters – I read somewhere that some places in Peru still use the Euro round plugs so I’ve brought two in case.
- Black Diamond gloves – In case for Inca Trail
- Air Canada Amenity Bag – This is currently being phased out but it’s a great bag because I can perfectly fit my portable power bank, cables and the MacBook charger all in there.
- Belkin Mini Surge Protector – This one’s great for travel because I find most hotels don’t have enough outlets. This has 3 additional outlets + 2 usb ports.
Odds and Ends
Here are a bunch of things scattered all over that can be found either in my main pack of day pack.
- Rick Steves’ Silk Money Belt – I have a love-hate relationship with the money belt. On one hand, it did totally save me when I had my backpack stolen in Paris many years ago. On the other hand, it’s annoying, uncomfortable and sweaty to wear all day. I usually end up making a game-time decision about it but if we’re thinking 100% about safety, having the money belt is a no-brainer.
- Buff Headwear – I love my buff because it’s something I can wear on my wrist to wipe sweat away or around my neck if it’s cold or even on my head if I’m looking for more protection from the sun. It’s a pretty sweet piece of travel gear that everyone should own. Read my full review of the Buff.
- Flag Bag – I picked this up locally at the MEC here in Toronto and this is essentially a protector bag for backpacks. This makes the checking-in process of your backpack a lot easier because there are no loose straps that could cause problems. I also like to have this because it’s essentially another big bag that I could use if I end up buying way too much stuff. Over the years, I’ve collected flag patches and I’ve been trying to grow my collection ever since as I hop around the world.
- Chapstick – Dry lips are no fun.
- Victorinox Travel Organizer – This helps keep me organized with my cards, travel documents, money, and pens all in one spot. So when I’m at the airport, all I need to do is pull out this organizer and I’m good to go to check-in, go through customs, and get through the gate.
- Xiaomi 10000 mAh Power Bank – For me, I know I’m going to be going through a lot of power throughout the day on my devices (especially my phone). This is my safety net to know that I’ll always be able to charge USB devices during the day if I need to.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Mini Tissue Pack
- Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses – I’m a huge fan of Oakley sunglasses.
- Sea To Summit Travel Wallet – I don’t like using my leather wallet from back home because I need something a bit more rugged and something I don’t care if it gets poorly treated. This wallet is great because it has a zippered component for coins and has tons of slots and dividers.
- Oceanic OCS Dive Computer – Yes it’s a dive computer but I use it as a normal watch a lot of the times because it’s got the sporty rubber bands and is completely waterproof.
For the first time (ever??), I’ll be going with a very minimal gadget set aside from my camera. Since I want to focus on my photography, I’m ditching my video gear. Also wanting to stay light I’m also foregoing the laptop. I think my iPhone 6 will be up for the challenge!
The Olympus EM-1 of course is missing here because I’m using it with the 7-14mm f/2.8 to shoot this!
- Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 7-14 f/2.8 Lens– In the spirit of going more minimal, I’ve decided to only bring this combination for the trip. Micro Four Thirds is perfect in every way for travel and Olympus especially has done a killer job. The E-M1 gives me the pro features of a full-frame SLR but in the form factor of a point and shoot.
- Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 Lens – This is my all-purpose lens that will be paired with the body most of the time
- Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Lens – This is a new one to the collection and really got this to shoot wildlife when we’re out in the Amazon
- Olympus MC-14 Teleconverter – This will give the 40-150mm 1.4x extra reach.
- Portable Backup Hard Drive
- Carbon Fiber tripod
- LOTS of batteries
- Extra memory cards
Vaccines and Medicine
Packing for this trip didn’t involve a big shopping trip because I had most of these items but what required a lot of advanced prep was figuring out what shots and pills we needed.
Months prior to the trip, I visited my family doctor and through a blood test, we figured out I had Hepatitis A and B antibodies. Beyond that, I had to get the following:
- Typhoid shot – This is for salmonella. This can be administered by your family physician.
- Malaria pills – While the risk factor for malaria is low in the Amazon, I picked this up to be safe.
- Yellow Fever shot – This was the most annoying and expensive simply because the family doctor wasn’t able to do this. I had to go to a special “Travel Clinic” that charged a bogus consultation fee. On top you’ll read that there are some flu-like symptom side effects to taking the shot so I had to plan around when was the most convenient time to feel sick. The good thing was that I never got sick so it really depends on the person
- Altitude sickness pills – This was re-iterated to me 100x by every person that’s been on the Inca Trail. Don’t f*** with the altitude. Don’t be a hero. Pick up those altitude pills and follow the instructions or else you’ll be in a world of hurt.
- Dukoral – I’ve taken this before for my trip to Asia and it worked remarkably well. Since I took it only 3 years ago, I only needed a one dose booster.
Note: Most of these weren’t covered under my health insurance policy so these were all out of pocket expenses.
Tip: Doctors will ask you how long your hike is but what you have to realize that your’e already at high altitude starting from Cusco. Count how many days you’ll be in Cusco + Machu Picchu and that is how many days you’ll be at high altitude.
Things You Probably Didn’t Think About
These are tips I’ve shared with in the past but I figure would be worth reminding you about.
- Two separate photocopies of your passport, credit cards and other important cards – After making the photocopies, just make sure the are stored in two separate bags. If you ever get one stolen, you’ll always have the other. This is a worst case scenario kind of thing where if you lost your passport and need some sort of way to prove your identity to the embassy.
- Call your credit cards – Before you head out, it takes literally 5 minutes to call each credit card company and let them know about your travel plans.
- Adjust your camera clocks beforehand – A huge pet peeve of mine is having the wrong timestamp on my photos and videos. The best way is to either adjust it beforehand or you can also set up a calendar reminder to pop up when you land.
- Format your memory cards – The worst is when you start taking photos/videos with your camera and you run out of memory really quickly because you forgot to clean out the old photos from a previous trip. At this point, you’re stuck with switching to a new memory card or deleting old photos one at a time which is extremely painful.
There are a bunch of items that didn’t make the photos but for the sake of thoroughness I added them below.
- Shaver – I’m not a razor kind of guy so this is pretty much a must. What I usually do is charge it full before I leave so I don’t have to bring the charger with me. There’s plenty of juice for 2 weeks.
- Snacks – Quick energy boosts will be important for the Inca Trail and so I’ve packed a bunch of Cliff Bars.
- Headphones – This is mainly for movie watching on the plane.
- Watch – The only sporty watch I have is my dive computer so I’ll be bringing it on the trip.
- Mosquito repellant – My buddy is going to pick more serious repellant.
- Elastic bands – This sounds peculiar right? Another tip I got from a few travellers is that you’re going to want to close up your pant legs when you’re in the Amazon. Those mosquitos get pretty crafty and could get in there so you want to make sure you deny them the opportunity. I’m sure there are fancier ways to do this but I figure elastics will suffice.
So I hope that helps you for your trip to Peru. I sure as heck didn’t know what I needed when I started planning for it and so my hope is that this gives you a really good idea of what to think about and what you need to buy in preparation.
My Columbia and Mountain Hardwear gear was graciously sponsored by Columbia, however the opinions expressed in this post are my own because seriously their stuff is kickass.