Salkantay Trek On Your Own: Packing List
Below is my recommended packing list if you are doing the Salkantay Trek on your own. It is SUPER critical to pack as light as possible, as the combined high altitude, steepness and long days means even fit people find the Salkantay Trek challenging.
Two issues you must weigh up when packing for the Salkantay Trek are:
1. The high altitude (up to 4600m) - Hiking at higher altitudes makes it harder to breathe. Even fit experienced people have been known to feel sick and have headaches/nausea at these high altitudes. Therefore, you want to pack as light as possible (and remember to acclimatise!).
2. The changeable weather conditions - In these mountainous and high environments, there could be rain for hours, cold temperatures, hot moments when you're hiking up steep uphills. Although you need to pack light, you must also be well prepared for all the conditions thrown at you.
Thus, you want to be very efficient in how you pack! Use my recommendations below as a baseline for what you need, and ideally try not to pack much more than the below.
Backpack: 60L (and raincover)
If you are hiking during the wet season, PLEASE buy a pack of garbage bags and line your backpack with it. Then, pack your sleeping bag, sleeping mat, clothes, food, etc in individual garbage bags.
Sleeping bag (Comfort Rating: Wet season -3 Celsius // Dry season -6 Celsius )
Sleeping Mat (Foam or Self-inflating, up to you)
Hiking Pants (ideally zips-off into shorts)
Hiking Top (ideally light and loose, long-sleeve gives better sun protection)
Mid-Layer Jacket (Merino or Fleece are best)
Outer-layer jacket (Down or Synthetic)
Underwear (3 pairs in total)
Socks (3 pairs in total, Merino wool is a great sock option)
Thermal top and bottom
Pair of thongs / flip flops / slippers
Lightweight sport shorts (optional)
Spare shirt (optional)
Swimmers (optional, if you take the option to swim / go to the hot springs)
How to dress: One hiking outfit to be used during the day time, the thermal set for night time. The thermals should not be worn during the day, should not get wet. It is your last layer so that, in case everything else gets wet, you can still change into something dry and warm at the campsite.
DO NOT bring any cotton clothing. When cotton gets wet, it's useless at keeping you warm and takes a long time to dry; you'll just be carrying around a heavy sopping mess.
Worn: Waterproof hiking boots
Waterproof rain jacket
Optional: Waterproof rain pants / gaiters (I've never used either of these; that being said, wet pants sticking to your legs is a pretty gross feeling haha. The downside of rain pants/gaiters is that they can get stuffy when you hike.)
Camping stove and gas (small container should be enough)
Camping cutlery (ideally fork/spoon combo)
Toilet paper (1 roll per person)
Optional: Travel towel
Water sterilisation method (we have a Steripen, a small device that uses UV light to sterilise water)
Passports (for Machu Picchu tickets)
ISIC card (for Machu Picchu tickets)
Blister pads (optional - but definitely useful, high possibility of getting blisters on the Salkantay Trek)
Where to Rent in Cusco
For gear rental, we went to Rosely on Calle Procuradores, next to the Plaza de Armas. This is, by far, the cheapest place we found after checking 10+ places around Cusco.
We rented a sleeping bag for 5 sols / day. We met another girl doing the Salkantay on her own who rented everything (tent, sleeping bag, boots, camping stove, etc.) from Rosely for 25 sols / day She got a bargain as she was renting more but Rosely does the best prices for sure! :)
Where to Buy Camping Gear in Cusco
High-quality, expensive gear:
Tattoo Adventure, they sell high-quality branded camping items but is obviously more expensive. I also bought a North Face zip-off hiking pants for 75 sols (I am certain they are not real but they look and work well) from one of the stores in Calle Plateros (the store sold heaps of other North Face stuff - even rain jackets for 100 sols).
There is a second-hand market on Saturdays called Baratillo
If you've got any tips or feedback, feel free to share! Hope it helps. :)