What you bring to Peru depends greatly on what you plan to do, where, and when. If you're staying in 5 Star hotels it is unlikely that you'll want a sleeping bag. If you're here for the dry season in the Andes you won't need a raincoat, but if you're here for the rainy season in the Andes you will live in your raincoat.
Here we've tried to make a general packing list that any adventurer will benefit from when planning their trip to Peru.
General Packing List for Peru:
- Personal medical supplies
- A money belt
- Sunscreen and/or a hat with a brim and sunglasses
- Personal electronics and their required equipment (there is no Apple store in Cusco for example but there is in Lima)
- Good novels in your language
- A good Spanish dictionary and phrase book in your language
A Packing List for Hikers and other Adventurers:
- A sleeping bag
- Water purification tablets, these can be bought in Cusco as well
- Water bottle
- A pocket knife
- Gaiters during the rainy season Oct.-May, it gets very muddy
- Hiking poles, there are some very steep and slippery slopes
- Duct tape and/or supper glue for equipment repair and blisters
- Cooking equipment
- Light but warm clothing for dressing in layers
Many places in Cusco and Arequipa rent hiking equipment to travelers including tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and more. You can also find cheap adventure clothing rip-offs of name brands like the North Face in el Molino, a market near the bus terminal that sells clothing, electronics, kitchen items, and more. Can't decide if you want a fake North Face or a fake Colombia? Get a reversible jacket with North Face on one side and Colombia on the other!
Here we've tried to put together slightly more specific lists about what to pack for trips to different regions of Peru.
What to Pack for the Coast:
- A mix of warm weather clothing and cool weather clothing. It can be hot during the day but quite chilly at night
- A good pair of walking shoes
- A pair of sandals or other light shoes for the end of the day or for the beach
- A bathing suit
- A good beach book
What to Pack for the Andes:
- A warm sweater
- A warm jacket
- A good raincoat for the rainy season October – May
- Multiple long-sleeve shirts and/or sweaters, plan to dress in layers as temperatures can change quickly
- A hat and gloves/mittens; a scarf is optional. You can get all of these easily in the Andes, often hand-knitted from sheep or alpaca wool.
- Warm socks
- Good hiking boots
- No shorts or skirts without leggings. While it can get hot enough during the day for shorts we do not recommend that you pack or wear them for two reasons. 1. It is culturally inappropriate in Cusco to wear shorts. While a sizable number of tourists elect to bring and wear shorts, they stick out like sore thumbs and scream ignorance. Locals never wear shorts. 2. Locals never wear shorts with good reason! While part of it is due to a more conservative culture, part of it is eminently practical. The weather can change rapidly and without warning. One minute it is hot and sunny and the next minute it is freezing and raining, or even hailing. You don't want to get caught far from your hotel in shorts when the weather changes. It is better to wear pants even if it is a little hot out and you feel like you could wear shorts
What to Pack for the Jungle:
- Fast-drying everything! You will likely participate in activities that get you wet, clothing made of synthetic materials dry much faster than cotton and wool.
- Light clothing, the jungle is hot.
- A light, breathable long-sleeve shirt to protect from insects and underbrush if you go into the jungle. Even though it is hot, you don't want a t-shirt for this type of activity.
- A pair of long socks or gaiters you can tuck your pants into in order to prevent insects from getting into your clothing on hikes.
- Insect repellent
- A warm long-sleeve shirt or light jacket, you might get a little chilly at night
- A pair of good walking/hiking shoes that dry quickly
- A pair of sandals or other light shoes to wear at the end of the day when your walking shoes are wet
- A raincoat
- A bathing suit
- Malaria tablets
- A mosquito net, check to see if where you are staying provides guests with netting.
The most important thing to pack with you no matter where you go, be it a trip to your local corner store at home or halfway around the world, is common sense. If a voice in your head says something is a bad idea, then it is a bad idea, don't do it. If you know you wouldn't do something at home, being a guest in another country means it is even more important for you to act responsibly.