What to Pack for Peru in August | 9 Days in a Carry-On

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Figuring out what to pack for Peru can be challenging.  South America is very geographically diverse.  You could be at the beach on Monday, high up in the Andes Mountain range on Wednesday, and then trekking through the Amazon Jungle on Friday.  Oh, and don't forget that weekend excursion to the desert.  Additionally, with all that traveling around, lugging large suitcases on and off trains, planes, or buses can be a nightmare.  You need to be strategic with your packing.

August in Peru is not only their winter but also their dry season.  If you are keeping clear of the Amazon rainforest, you probably won't have to deal with rain on your trip.  However, that is not to say it won't happen.  We experienced a downpour while visiting Machu Picchu near the end of the month.  August up in the Andes means chilly nights (40ºF, 5ºC) and moderate daytime temperatures (70ºF, 20ºC).  Lima's weather stays pretty consistent throughout the year (60º-70ºs F, 17-24ºC).  However, in the winter, Lima's sky will likely be completely foggy and you might experience the occasional drizzling.

 Overlooking Ollantaytambo

Overlooking Ollantaytambo

This list contains everything we packed for our 9-day trip around Peru and a couple extra things I wish we packed.  We visited the Sacred Valley, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and Lima from August 25th to September 3rd.  We did not do any multi-day treks like the Inca Trail.  We also did not use any laundromats while in Peru, however, they were widespread and inexpensive.

 

 Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca

Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca

OUTER LAYERS

Coming from the midwest USA, we are used to cold winter temperatures.  We feel great in 40ºF weather in the early mornings in just a light jacket.  If you come from a hotter climate, a thicker jacket might be necessary.  Thicker puffy coats like that were common among the locals.  Our coldest day was at Puno and Lake Titicaca where the high for the day was only in the mid-50s.  

While in the Andes, you will be at elevations ranging from 7,000-15,000 ft (2,000-4,500 m) above sea-level.  Sun protection is a must!  One of the items I wished I packed but didn't was a hat (I had lost my hat while in Iceland).  A couple days into the trip my scalp was burnt to a crisp.

We each only brought one pair of shoes, our tennis shoes.  Even on hikes, our tennis shoes managed well.  If you are doing longer treks or you feel more comfortable in a pair of hiking boots bring those.  However, you will likely want to bring a pair of causal city shoes as well – taking up some valuable suitcase space.  Most of the cities and Incan ruins have large cobblestone streets and steps, so good comfortable and practical shoes are advantageous.

 

INNER LAYERS

SHIRTS

  • 4 Sweaters
  • 5 Long-sleeve Shirts
  • Undershirts/Short-sleeve shirts

PANTS

OTHERS

  • Plenty of Socks
  • Plenty of Underwear

Think layers.  Throughout the day you will likely warm up with the intense sun and as you are hiking or walking through the streets.  Nice restaurants are a lot more affordable in Peru, so if you are going to one of the many award-winning restaurants in Lima, bring a dressy outfit.

To not stand out as a tourist too much, avoid wearing clothes that look like you are about to climb a mountain at any given second.  

 Feeding Alpacas at Awana Kancha

Feeding Alpacas at Awana Kancha

 Train through the Andes Mountains

Train through the Andes Mountains

GEAR & ELECTRONICS

This is our standard electronics packing list we bring with us on any trip to document our travels.  New this trip was our gimbal to keep video steady.  It is now one of our favorite investments (along with our drone) for video quality.

If you are not as into photography or videography, the couple electronics I would recommend are headphones and portable batteries (for those long bus or train rides) and a universal power adaptor.

 

 Storm Clouds rolling in at Machu Picchu

Storm Clouds rolling in at Machu Picchu

MISCELLANEOUS 

If you are not used to the high altitudes of Peru, I would recommend bringing Ibprophen or a similar NSAIDs.  Altitude sickness is intense.  While locals may swear by Coca Tea, we did not find it to be that effective.  Ibprophen may work to prevent altitude sickness or it may just keep your headache manageable while you are adjusting.

Mosquitos are not found at altitudes above 2,000 meters, which means you won't encounter them for most of your trip (Unless your focus is the Amazon).  The only place we saw mosquitos was at Machu Picchu. If you are planning to do any of the hikes around Machu Picchu (Huayna Picchu, Sun gate, etc), bug spray is necessary.  There is a risk for mosquito-borne infections (Zika, Yellow Fever) in Peru.

 

PACKING TIPS

  • Get a good carry-on suitcase.  Ours are only $45, a lot cheaper than most you can buy.  They have withstood 6 international trips in the last year and still feel as good as new.  In Peru, you will likely need to repack every so often and carry it on and off buses, trains, and taxis.  Get a suitcase that is easy to use and can withstand a beating.
  • Packing cubes are helpful to quickly find the clothing you need for the day.  They also save a lot of space in your suitcase.
  • Another tip for saving room is to roll your clothes instead of folding them.  Rolling clothes tight saves space and prevents wrinkles.