Machu Picchu, Part 2: Preparing for the Salkantay Pass to Machu Picchu

A few months ago, my brother and I decided to go on a trip Machu Picchu. For those interested in a similar trip, I’m documenting what we learned here. This is broken into three parts:

  1. Planning & Research
  2. Preparation & Packing List (this post)
  3. The Trip

Earlier this year, my brother and I decided to go on a “last hoorah” trip a few months before my wife was due.

We eventually settled on hiking the Salkantay Pass to Machu Picchu in Peru, with a private guided tour and other travel arrangements taken care of for us. (Read more about that in part 1.)


Going through Peru For Less, the travel agency we settled on, made things incredibly simpler. Anna, our contact there, told us what we needed to do, so we didn’t need to worry about what we were forgetting. She gave us an itemized invoice, and, because they weren’t directly connected to Alpaca, we booked our trip through them as well. Easy peasy!

The rest was just figuring out what we needed to bring that’d be comfortable but not too excessive.


I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking in my life, so my natural tendency has always been to pack the absolute bare minimum. This was my first time where that wasn’t totally necessary – the porters allowed us up to 25kg per person, so I could pack a bit more comfortably, take an extra pair of socks if it makes me happy, etc. This was particularly important to remember because I wanted to be comfortable for the 24 hours I’d have getting there, the time spent in Cusco acclimating, and the 24 hours spent returning.

Packing List

I wound up settling on this for my packing list:

  • Gear
    • Musts
      • Backpack
      • Duffel to give sherpas
      • Headlamp with spare batteries
      • 1L Water bottle
      • Water purification stuff
    • Optional
      • Daypack / man purse for Cusco
      • Extra water bottle
    • Toiletries
      • Hand sanitizer (will is bringing)
      • Wet wipes
      • Toilet paper
      • Pack towel
      • Asprin
      • Toothbrush, toothpaste
      • Mouthguard :(
      • Plastic bag for dirty clothes
      • Plastic bags to keep stuff dry
  • Food / Snacks
    • 6x Clif bars
    • Nuun
    • 2x Nature Valley granola bars
    • Peanuts
  • Clothing
    • 2x hemp pants
    • running shorts for rain, hot, and maybe swimming
    • 4x Smartwool Socks for camp days
    • 4x normal socks for other days
    • 6x Underwear
    • Long underwear
    • Base layer (top)
    • Lightweight fleece
    • Rain jacket / shell
    • 3x Water friendly under shirts for hiking
    • 1x T-Shirts for other days
    • 3x over shirts
    • Sunglasses
    • Plastic grocery bag(s) for dirty laundry
    • Full fingered bike gloves
  • Personal
    • Camera & charger (see below)
    • iPhone, charger and cable
    • Apple Watch and cable? TBD
    • Passport (no visa needed)
    • Waterproof sleeve for phone, wallet, and passport
    • Headphones
    • Chapstick
    • Cash
    • Sunscreen (or buy in Cusco)


The hardest decision for me to make was whether to take my aging Nikon d70s or to simply rely on my trusty iPhone 6s.

Initially the question was primarily about picture quality. My d70s is an SLR, and can thus capture more light, giving it a better depth of field, better low light conditions, and gives far more control over the photos I actually take.

But, given the quality of iPhone 6s photos, which are in most cases indistinguishable, that felt negligible compared to the other benefits of having a dedicated camera.

Put simply: taking my d70s meant a lot more stuff to lug around. The case, along with a spare battery or two, would account for roughly a third of my belongings.

On the other hand: my iPhone has no spare battery.

So, I opted to take my d70s. It indeed turned out to be a lot more to carry around – so much so that I even kept it in my pack for large periods while hiking – but the confidence that I’d end up with my photos and never with a battery-dead camera was worth it.

Read part 1: ← Researching a trip to Machu Picchu via Salkantay

Stay tuned for part 2: Hiking the Salkantay Pass to Machu Picchu

#travel #peru #backpacking

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