Peru is one of the most popular destinations in South America. It has something for everyone. Backpackers will be in paradise walking the ancient Inca Trail, and culture lovers will be in awe at the mighty Machu Picchu and historic city of Cusco. Adventure-lovers will get a thrill whitewater rafting on the Urubamba river and zip lining across Peru’s enormous mountains. Whatever your preference, Peru seems to have exactly what people are looking for!
But when to visit? In my opinion, any month is a good month to visit Peru. However, it’s good to know that dry season runs from May-September and wet season is from December – March. Berty and I went in August, which is considered Peru’s “winter,” although it stayed at a pretty comfortable 60-70 degrees during our week-long stay.
Okay, so what do I bring with me?
Yes, it’s pretty common that you will need clothes, shoes, passport, etc. That stuff is obvious. We’re here to give you a list of the most overlooked items when packing for Peru. However, if you need ideas for the basics too, we’ve creating a packing list board on Pinterest that I think will be of utmost usefulness to you. Give it a follow!
Here are 7 overlooked items you will actually need in Peru:
If you are visiting Cusco, Ollantaytambo, or any other place located along the Andes Mountains, wear sunscreen (even in the winter time). Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level, and Machu Picchu Mountain can get up to 10,000ft. While it may be cold and you think “we don’t need sunscreen!” you are much closer to the sun, which exposes your skin to much harsher rays. Stay safe! Stay young!
2. Crazy Strong Bug Spray + Benadryl Cream
Our trip was a total dream…except the bugs. I did a little research after our return and what I THINK we ran into were bugs called sand flies. They are like mini mosquitoes but their bite itches 1000x worse than any other bug on the planet. I had bites that itched even weeks after we returned to the States. Back in 2014, it was recommended by a friend to buy a product called Jungle Juice for my trip to India but we *very* regrettably didn’t bring it on this trip to Peru. However, we did bring a tube of Benadryl Extra Strength anti-itch cream, and we coveted every ounce of it. Finally, if you do end up using Jungle Juice, I would use it with caution and rinse it off your skin at night. The high percentage of deet can irritate skin.
3. Hiking Shoes (already worn in)
You will most likely end up walking a TON in Peru. There are many archeological sites to explore, cities and towns to wander, and Machu Picchu, of course, to climb around! Now would not be the time to buy brand spanking new hiking shoes – we recommend wearing some you already own, and know to be comfortable and reliable. If you don’t own any and need to go purchase a pair, make sure you take your new shoes on several practice hikes and get them broken in before you take them on your Peru adventure.
Before we left for Peru, Berty and I went to our bank and exchanged US Dollars for Peruvian Soles. You can also do this at the airport easily enough. Because we moved around Peru almost every day, we wanted enough cash on hand without relying on an ATM. This turned out to be extremely helpful in the small towns we visited. We had money ready when we wanted to buy something quick at the market or tip a friendly tour guide.
5. Day Pack
Every day, Berty and I would go out and explore our surroundings. When we would arrive at the place we would be staying, we just plopped our bags down, loaded the day pack, and went out! Our favorite day packs are made by Krochet Kids, which are actually made by awesome women in Lima, Peru!
6. Sun hat + sun glasses
Similar to tip #1: Sunscreen, a sun hat and glasses will keep your trip to Peru as comfortable as possible. Towns like Cusco, Ollataytambo, and Aguas Calientes are at high elevations (7,000 – 12,000 ft. above sea level!!) which means you are much closer to the sun. Protect your precious skin and eyes by covering up and shielding yourself from the harsh rays!
7. Long, But Lightweight Layers
Berty and I never really figured out if it was hot or cold in Peru. During the day, as we walked around, the combination of sun and hiking had us taking off layers and layers. But on the contrary, the sun would go down and we would scramble to find our hats and warm coats! When you are packing for Peru, try to find many long but lightweight layers. This way, when you take them off during the day, you can pack them in your bag without producing much bulk.
That’s all! Did we miss anything? What would you bring to Peru?
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Finally, thanks for reading!