If I hiked Machu Picchu again, I would make sure these ten items were in my bag. Keep in mind that I hiked the Saltankay, which I'm assuming the needs are similar if you hike the Inca trail, and it was also the beginning of the dry season, mid-May.
- Toilet paper- from the moment you step off the plane in Cusco, you’ll need toilet paper. All the toilets in Peru have been robbed of toilet paper meaning you must be a magician and pull toilet paper out of your hat. You should also keep a roll in your day pack or at a minimum baby wipes. On more than one occasion I found myself without the TP because John carried the TP in his pack and I forgot to grab it. I had baby wipes with me that came to my rescue more than once. You can buy TP along the trail if you run out (which we did) for a couple soles.
- Soles- you should have a handful of one and two sole coins for small purchases, like toilet paper on the trail. There were also a couple of bathrooms, like at the trail start or at Machu Picchu, that required a sole to use it.
- Cash-boy did we blow this one. Having traveled in Europe where ATM’s and visa charges are common place, I was caught off guard because this isn't the case in Peru. I had $350 cash on me and John had only $80 and we scrambled when the trek company required payment in cash. We took out as much as we could in soles from the ATM, but the limit was 400 soles, not enough to pay for the balance of our trek. We also needed cash or soles to tip the guides throughout the trip. The horsemen left us on day 3 so we tipped them, day 4 was tipping the second guide, the cook and the cooks assistant. The last day we tipped our main guide but we stayed in town where we had ATM access. Overall the tips weren't much (I think 12 dollars for the cook, assistant and guide assistant)
- Pantiliners-this is a girl tip. If gals use pantiliners daily, they can make their underwear last longer and don't worry as much about those ‘drip dry’ occasions (see #1 tip above regarding toilet paper)
- Ear plugs – I don’t go anywhere without earplugs. With earplugs I can sleep better on the airplane, the crowded campground or the noisy hotel next to the train tracks in Aqua Caliente.
- Diamox- Headaches plaque me starting at an elevation of 7K; I didn’t want to take a chance of having elevation sickness screwing up a trip of the lifetime. Plus if you work for a company that does drug testing, you don't want to risk your job using the natural Peruvian altitude sickness remedy of the coca leaves. Coca leaves show up as cocaine on drug tests and while it looks like it's only for 72 hours, why take the chance if your job depends on it?
- Pepto Bismal pills – This is a staple in my running gear and hiking gear. Don’t leave home without it is my philosophy. I didn’t get sick in Peru but I managed my stomach gurgles and borderline upset stomachs with preemptory pepto bismal pills. I also had Cipro with me in case John or I got a serious bout of food poisoning. Luckily our stomach discomforts were mild and manageable with Pepto.
- Headlamp-Keep the headlamp in your day pack because you never know if you’ll be hiking in the dark or trying to find your way in a dark port-a-potty.
- Candy- I loved asking the children in my VERY POOR Spanish, Coma sa llama (what is your name) and handing them a piece of candy. Their smile was priceless.
- Sterlite pen – A couple we were traveling with brought their Sterilite pen and every morning we’d fill up our water bladders with sterilized water. I'm so thankful they shared their pen with us, but I wish we had our own since we were always borrowing it.
- Always have a light rain jacket with you. We had awesome weather with a couple drizzles. We decided to walk down the stairs from Machu Picchu and it poured. We came across another couple from our group and they said everyday they had their rain jacket and left it in the hotel because it was the dry season and it hadn't rained the last 4 days. Needless to say, they were very drenched.
- Camera- I have a nice DSLR and carried it with me everywhere. Depending on the terrain I tried to keep If I kept it out of my backpack and hanging on my next so I'd take more pictures.
Capturing the moment right after the child tumbled down the stairs and mom caught him before he hit his head