If you are planning a trip to Peru I won’t blame you if you are a bit lost when it comes to the packing list, especially if you haven’t traveled a lot prior to this trip.
Planning your Peru packing list can present a challenge because there are three different environments which you will need to prepare for appropriately, the mountains, the jungle, and the beach.
Whether you are doing your first big trip or you’re a seasoned traveler who wants to compare notes, keep reading. In this article, I’m going to help you get your bag packed, and ready to head to Peru. Ready? Here comes my complete Peru packing list:
Essentials Packing List – Everyone will Need These Things
Okay so hopefully you will remember this one by yourself, but don’t forget your passport!
Make sure you get it out well in advance and check the expiry date. Your passport should have more than 6 months left and two blank pages. You will need this on hand for the journey, so when packing make sure you have this in your day bag or a small shoulder bag.
While we are on the topic of passports I would usually keep a photocopy of my passport identity page and any relevant VISA’s in at least two other locations in my bags i.e. the real thing in my shoulder bag, a photocopy in my main luggage and my day bag.
If I later stay somewhere I feel safe leaving the passport in the Hotel, I would always have a photocopy of the passport with me. This way should the worst happen you at least have a copy with you, which you can take to your embassy, and hopefully you can then get a new one sorted “quickly.”
When visiting Peru as a tourist you don’t need to get a VISA in advance. They issue the VISA on arrival for a maximum of 183 days. You can’t extend once inside the country, so ensure you get enough time. If you overstay they usually charge $1/ day before allowing you to leave, but it is advisable to follow the limitations of the visa and just keep your trip to the permitted 6 months.
Pouch or Shoulder Bag
You can then keep a small amount of cash in your day bag, but should the bag get stolen you know all the most important items are with you, and the loss is minimized. I never wear day bag that way because it shouts out to anyone who might have dishonorable intentions “I’ve got something important inside”.
House/ Car Keys
I always take one set of keys with me and keep this with my passport and other vital possessions like my bank cards.
However, I ALWAYS leave a set of keys with a trusted person. This means if I do lose my set, I do not have to find a locksmith when I get home from the big trip and after a long flight.
A good way to prevent having to carry huge sums of cash around is to bring bank cards. Alas, the Traveler’s check is mostly dead in the water these days, and you can struggle to find places to cash them in.
Usually, it is best to have at least one credit card and one debit card. Ideally bring three in total if you can. This way if you have a problem with one you still have another card to fall back on.
Usually, it is best to have at least one credit card and one debit card. Ideally bring three in total if you can.
There are pros and cons to taking your cards, and you need to take care when using them. For example, make sure to cover the pin when withdrawing cash, and ensure you are aware of the withdrawal costs which can sting a bit.
In case of theft, make sure you keep a record of the phone line to call, and the card numbers, expiry date etc. Keep this information in more than one place.
Remember to always diversify your cash, hiding some in different places in your bags. I often keep an emergency stash in a little plastic bank baggie under my shoe sole.
Consider taking a lock and chain or at least a good padlock with you. You can use the lock on some Hotel rooms to add an extra layer of security.
Furthermore, if you take a chain when traveling long-distance by train or bus you can lock your main bag down if you want to get some shut-eye, and put off any opportunist thieves.
Bike locks can also make an excellent choice.
While not something you carry as such, you will need to make sure you have your yellow fever vaccination before you travel to Peru.
This is a requirement of entry although they don’t ask for proof. If you are only going to Lima you don’t really need it, but if you are planning a visit to the Amazon, then you should certainly get the vaccination before you travel.
As well as the Yellow Fever vaccination the Health Ministry recommends the following injections:
- Hepatitis A
- COVID-19 Vaccine
- Hepatitis B when you are visiting the provinces Amazonas, Loreto, San Martin, Ucayali, Junin and Madre de Dios
Clothing with weather/ habitat considerations
Before you can decide on the clothing you need, bear in mind the Peruvian weather and where you will travel to Peru.
There are three main environments which travelers will usually cover on their trip, the jungles of the Amazon, the beaches on the coastline or the mountains.
If you will only visit one or two of these environments you can make more ingenious packing choices. However, if you plan to go to all three on a long trip, and want to stick to one backpack you might want to consider buying some clothes along the way.
You will need warm clothes for the mountains. Backpackers can save lugging their warm jumper all around the jungle by visiting the mountains first, and then ditch your warmest layers once you hit the beaches and jungles. Or if they are your favorite clothes, post them back home once you come down to warmer climes.
Don’t forget Peru is located in the Southern hemisphere, meaning they have winter when Europe and the USA have summer.
The highlands have a dry season from mid-April to October. This means the nights are cold and the days are hot. Nighttime temperatures can get down to freezing.
Make sure you pack warm clothes with layers you can take on and off as the temperatures fluctuate.
Make sure you pack warm clothes with layers you can take on and off as the temperatures fluctuate.
From November to mid-April the months are very wet, and some rural roads can become unusable. Rain often falls in the afternoon rather than the morning or night.
Make sure you pack clothes for wet weather, always keep a dry set of clothing at your Hotel, and take extra socks. Of course, a rain jacket is a must for exploring the Andes during this time of year.
The Amazon Jungle
April to October is also the dry season in the jungle. You still need to prepare to get wet, but the conditions are generally easier, and this is a good time to visit the Amazon.
Make sure you pack a rain jacket and keep a spare set of clothes dry at all times. One or two warmer layers (not too bulky) works well because sometimes the nights can get down to 13 degrees. In general, bring two or three of everything so you can keep one dry to change into while you wash and dry the others.
The rainy season is from November to March and during this time you don’t need warm clothes. The weather is hot and humid most of the time. A rain jacket is essential, and again having a system to keep one set of clothes dry is a good idea.
Take extra care with your equipment because of the humidity and water everywhere. Consider a waterproof wellington boot or prepare for your boots and socks to get very muddy. A waterproof gaiter can be very useful to keep mud out from the inside your boots and the bottoms of your pants.
December to April there is very little to no rain along the coastline which means you can ditch the rain jacket.
If you don’t visit elsewhere in Peru then you can pack some beach specific items such as aqua socks, bikini, sun cream, sunglasses, sarong, etc.
If you are on a long trip I would plan to get these lighter beach specific items in Peru once you are done with the mountains and jungle.
From May to November the coastline temperatures are cooler and not as good for swimming. However, you can get cool pictures of the sea mists. If you head as far north as possible some of the beaches can still have enough warmth for swimming.
Clothes for most circumstances
Long pants x 2/3
Long sleeved lightweight shirt/ top x 3
Underwear x 4
Decent hiking socks x 3 (always keep one pair dry and rotate the other two)
Rain Jacket (see below)
There is a lot of rainfall in Peru after all, something needs to support all the greenery. This means a light effective rain jacket is essential. If you have a waterproof backpack this will be really handy if you get caught out in a storm, but you can also buy a rain jacket which fits over your bag if you already have a non-waterproof bag.
If you will hike in the mountains or the jungle good footwear is very important. Everyone’s feet are different so you will need to choose a boot which suits you best.
Once you have bought something make sure you wear them in before your trip. Often new boots will give you blisters. For the mountains, and Machu Picchu Inca trail hiking I would suggest a firm hiking boot.
For the jungles, your feet are likely to get wet along the way. In this case, a lighter boot is better. However, I would still choose a covered boot worn with socks to avoid leeches and insects getting to your feet.
Always take a light pair of flip flops or sandals to wear, these can be useful for going into Hotel bathrooms, giving your feet a rest from your boots, and of course for when you hit the beach.
Other Items to Pack
Water Filter or Bottle with Filter
The water in Peru isn’t usually safe to drink, and buying bottled water all the time is terrible for the environment. Moreover, in rural areas and while hiking you may not find what you need. Therefore, you should invest in a water filter with a pump and water bottle. Or get a water bottle with a built-in filter.
There are mosquitoes in Peru (particularly the Amazon areas), and as a result, there is some risk of Malaria and Dengue fever.
In the mountains, you don’t get mosquitoes because of the altitude and cold.
Recently Zilka has shown up in Peru HOWEVER so far this was all people who had transmitted the disease outside of Peru. They don’t think there are mosquito’s carrying the Zilka virus in the country.
Nevertheless, with malaria and dengue fever present, it doesn’t hurt to avoid getting bitten. Wearing long sleeves and pants can help, but also taking some repellent with you certainly won’t hurt.
The Centre for Disease control and prevention has a good information sheet about how to avoid getting bitten in the first place. When you do take a repellent make sure you use an EPA registered product.
When you are traveling with your backpack, you want to keep your stuff to a minimum. However, there are some items which are worth investing in, because they will make your life easier or more comfortable. Here are my favorite gear items to have with me on a long adventurous trip.
Waterproof Phone Case
If you are planning to visit the beaches or the jungles of Peru, then you will not regret buying a waterproof phone case. You can also keep other precious items inside such as your passport.
The jungle can get very wet. A little waterproof case can make sure you don’t lose your phone to water damage should you drop it in water or your bag get soaked through in the rain.
Sleeping Bag Liner
I always take a light sleeping bag liner with me on my long trips. Sometimes, when you use budget hotels or do a lot of camping, the bedding provided might make you wonder how many people used them before you.
When you use a sleeping bag liner with the provided bedding, you get to sleep in your own sheets every night.
I expect most of you will have a camera, if so then make sure you don’t forget to take it.
Peru has stunning landscapes and a fascinating culture. Surely you won’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the world around you.
If you haven’t bought a camera yet, then consider an expedition camera which will handle the difficult conditions better than other units. If you already have a camera invest in a camera dry bag which will help protect your equipment in the wet Amazon.
If you want to take your photography to the next level then consider this pro starter pack with a Canon DSLR, two lens, a telephoto lens, filters, a 64GB memory card, tripod, macro close-up kit, battery pack, bag and many more accessories to get you started taking professional level photographs.
This awesome day backpack by the Friendly Swede company is 100% waterproof (not the outside pocket) and will make a good choice for a day bag if you will spend a lot of time in the Peruvian Amazon.
Medical – First Aid Kit
When hiking and traveling in remote areas it can be difficult to find essential first aid kit products. Taking your own little kit with you will help, just in case.
Rehydration sachets are important. Should you get sick with diarrhea and vomiting they will help keep you hydrated until you can get to a Doctor.
They are useful to use as a preventative measure when hiking in the heat because staying hydrated is very important. You can also use the following recipe to make those sachets last longer.
DIY Hydration mix for water
Add 6 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to 1 liter of water.
Buying a water filter or bottle with built-in water filter is a good item to have in your backpack (as mentioned above). However, keeping some puritabs (or equivalent water purifying tablet) in your first aid kit will make a good back up plan, should you have a problem with your filter or lose it.
A set of sterile needles
When traveling in rural communities and developing countries where they are strapped for supplies, you can’t always assume medics have clean needles to use in an emergency. Having a few sterile needles with you mean should you require an injection or even a blood transfusion you have clean needles with you.
Compeed for Blisters
When you hike long distances in the heat, and in mountains with a lot of gradients, then your hiking boots can rub and before long the resulting blisters cause considerable discomfort. In the worst case, they could put an end to your hike. You can use Compeed to apply to any developing blisters and it acts as a second skin to absorb the rubbing.
Don’t forget to take some clean bandages including dressings for burns and for different parts of the body. You don’t need to stock up on the whole shop, but you never know when an accident will happen and these items will come in handy should you or someone you are with sustain a cut.
Make sure you bring any medications you take regularly with you on your trip and ensure you will have enough. Take some pain medication as well such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. In remote areas, you won’t always find a handy pharmacy stocking what you need.
When visiting the high areas of the Andes you do risk experiencing altitude sickness. Especially if you fly in direct to Cusco. Take along some acetazolamide in your first aid kit because this can help reduce altitude sickness symptoms.
Whenever I do any hiking, even if I only intend to only do a day hike, I always take a bivvy bag with me. You never know when a hike could go wrong or take longer than you intend, and as a result, you end up stuck in the wilderness overnight.
This actually did happen to me in Switzerland once and I was very grateful for my bivvy bag.
Handy Bits n’bobs
Washing line/ string
Whenever I travel long-term I always take a washing line string with me. No doubt at some point along the way you will want to wash some of your clothes.
Washing machines are not always available, and while there are often local washing services you might not necessarily want to hand everything over to someone else to wash. When you have a line with you, you can pack your clothes more lightly because you can wash along the way when needed.
Having a string with you means you can always find somewhere to hang your clean clothes, no matter what.
Small bottle of detergent
As above you can bring a small bottle of detergent with you, and then you can wash your clothes anywhere, should you need to.
I always keep a few baby wipes in my backpack just in case. You never know when you won’t have sufficient water to wash your hands or face, and then baby wipes can save the day.
Flannel, a little travel bottle of antibacterial soap, and a little jug
Now, some of you might freak out here, but as you may know the bathrooms in developing countries can be a new experience.
If you have not traveled a lot then the bathroom deal can shock. Many people will recommend bringing toilet paper. Yup because you are not going to find it everywhere you go.
However, in my humble opinion, I think learning how to wash with water after using the bathroom is a much better way to go. I mean, if your dog pooped on the floor would you consider the floor clean after you wiped it up with paper? No, you’d use soap and water (at least).
In my humble opinion, I think learning how to wash with water after using the bathroom is a much better way to go Click to Tweet
Also, the bathrooms themselves don’t usually have very good plumbing, which means your toilet paper can block the toilets. Then you usually have to put the paper in the basket next to the toilet, which isn’t so hot either.
Washing isn’t hard, you just need to take a jug of water with you into the bathroom (hence the jug), but often you’ll find bathrooms will have a tap for water and you can fill the jug from there. Then, when you’ve finished the business, pour the water on yourself and wash with your hand. You can use the flannel to dry yourself. Afterward, make sure you wash your hands well with the antibacterial soap.
Now before you run off screaming, take pause, open your mind, and honestly doing this is so much easier than carrying toilet paper around with you everywhere. And you will quickly transform into a hardcore traveler :D, unfazed by even the most horrendous bathroom facilities.
P.s washing works great behind a rock too, and you don’t leave paper behind polluting the environment.
A penknife can have no end of uses when traveling around, especially when hiking or camping. You can use the knife to open tins of food, and in the jungle, they can be useful too. Make sure when flying you pack the knife in your checked in luggage, and don’t take anything too big!
Wakawaka light and charger
Charging your telephone and finding decent batteries can present a challenge in developing countries. With this solar powered light, you can get a charge even when on the trail.
In fact, you can clip it to your bag while you walk and the unit will power up from the sun. In the evening, you can use the light or charge your phone/ camera batteries etc.
The product also has an SOS light setting which is pretty cool. The other awesome thing about this company is they have a social mission, so when you buy from them they make a gift of a light to people in need across the world living without access to the grid.
Now go Pack!
I hope this packing list has got your packing off to a fine start, and perhaps even if you are well traveled there are some ideas you didn’t think of before.
Have you been to Peru? Did you take anything I haven’t included on this list? What are your favorite travel gear/ gadgets?