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Packing for Peru is complex. With three major climate zones and more microclimates than you could ever count, the country requires you to take clothing for many different scenarios.

You need to be prepared for the cold of the Andes, the humidity of the jungle and the desert coast in Lima. At the same time, you don’t want to take multiple suitcases that you will have to drag around the country.

We believe that packing light is possible, no matter where you go. Yes, that means that you can pack light even for a country like Peru. To help you, we have put together this Peru packing list. It will help you pack everything you need without taking too much.

Therefore, keep reading to find out exactly what to pack for Peru!

Your Complete Peru Packing List

General advice

Climate zones

Pyramids in Caral, Peru

As we already mentioned above, you need to prepare for multiple climate zones.

At the coast, you have the deserts. This is where you will find beaches, sand dunes, Peru’s capital Lima and the remains of many ancient civilisations (great places to visit are, for example, Caral and Paracas). Here, you will encounter warm weather with little rainfall.

You can easily visit Caral, the oldest civilisation in South America, on a day trip from Lima. Find out how in our complete guide.

But don’t let the lack of rainfall deceive you. Some places, like Lima, are known for their humidity that creeps up at night. Plus, as in many deserts around the world, the temperature drops when the sun disappears, so be prepared for hot days and cold nights.

The next climate zone is the mountains. The Andes reach altitudes so high that, depending on where you go, you need to worry about altitude sickness. At this height, you will have a much colder climate compared to the coast. Depending on the season, the temperature often drops below freezing at night. Besides, this region is home to many fantastic hikes, for which you will need hiking equipment.

Foggy view down into a valley on the Inca Trail, Peru

Last, you have the Amazon rainforest. This climate zone is known for its humid heat as well as its dense forest. With its high humidity, the jungle will often leave you feeling like you’re about to melt. At the same time, you need to cover your skin to protect yourself from mosquitos and other insects.

Do you want to know more about how to pack for the rainforest? Then take a look at our jungle packing list!

Peru’s seasons

Peru experiences two major seasons, the dry season and the rainy season. The rainy season lasts approximately from December to March. During this time, you can expect higher temperatures and lots of rainfall.

The dry season, on the other hand, lasts approximately from May to September. This season comes with clear skies, lots of sunshine, little rain and also lower temperatures.

April, October and November are shoulder months where you can expect any kind of weather. It could be hot and rainy, cold and dry, or even both on the same day.

Village in the Amazon in Peru

The lack of rain during the dry season and the fact that it coincides with the summer holiday season in the Northern hemisphere, make this season the high season. Everyone wants to visit Peru during these months, which means that prices go up and the Inca Trail will be booked out up to half a year in advance.

The rainy season, on the other hand, means fewer tourists and lower prices.

Keep in mind that the seasons give a general overview, but cannot guarantee how the weather will be during your trip. You could have rain during the dry season and sunny days during the rainy season. Plus, the many different climate zones and microclimates determine the weather, making any weather predictions unreliable.

Having travelled to Peru during both seasons, I can advise you not to worry about it too much.

Packing tips

So how do you prepare for all those different climates and also for the various seasons?

The answer is simple – take layers. You don’t need to take a warm winter jacket to the Andes. Instead, you can layer your clothes to keep warm in the mountains. The long-sleeve shirt that protects you from mosquitos in the jungle will also keep you warm in the Andes, and serve as an extra layer when the night falls along the coast.

Main plaza in Cusco, Peru

In addition, you can rent equipment in Cusco. Are you afraid that you’re going to be cold? Then rent a down jacket in Cusco. Don’t take any hiking poles with you, but rent them instead. You can even buy some equipment there. Cusco is famous for its markets and colourful fabrics, so it is the perfect place to pick up hats and gloves.

What to pack for Peru

#1 Shirts

Let’s start with the clothes. We recommend bringing 2-3 long-sleeve shirts and as many short-sleeve shirts. You can wear the short-sleeves at the beach or in Lima, the long-sleeves in the Amazon where they will protect you from mosquitos, and you can layer them in the Andes, for extra warmth.

Try to take quick-drying fabrics so you can wash your t-shirts from time to time. If you like, you can buy clothing in a shop that specialises in outdoor gear, but to be honest, we don’t have any of those. We usually choose from what we have in our wardrobe and take clothes that we know to dry quicker than others.

Tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon in a canoe

In many places, you can also pay for a laundry service. That way, you will always have fresh clothes without having to carry too many of them.

#2 Trousers

You will need long trousers, and we recommend taking two pairs so that you can wash them.

When choosing which trousers to pack, don’t go for jeans. They are great for daily life but awful for travelling. First, they weigh far more than many other trousers and second, they take a long time to dry. Plus, it’ll be far too hot in the rainforest to wear them.

Instead, take light long trousers that you can wear on hot days. Layer them with underwear (we’ll get to that later) in the Andes, so you don’t get cold.

Children in the Amazon in Peru

As a bonus, if you have them, you can take zip-off trousers from which you can remove the legs. These double as short and long pants, which is excellent for a trip when you travel to many climate zones. Daniel has some, and he has taken them all around the world.

On the downside, these often don’t look very stylish in cities like Lima, so you might want to take a different pair for your visit there.

Also, if you’re going to the beach, consider packing a pair of shorts. At the coast, when it gets hot during the day, you will be glad to have your legs uncovered.

#3 Thermal underwear

I said that you don’t need to buy lots of special clothes for your trip to Peru and you can make use of what you already have at home.

One exception is thermal underwear.

I highly recommend you bring along some thermal underwear, both for the bottoms and the top. You can wear them underneath your clothes in the Andes. If you go to high altitudes, they will keep you warm, especially at night. I slept in mine while we hiked the Inca Trail and was very glad about the extra layer.

Cathedral, Arequipa, Peru

As a child and teenager, I would usually wear Odlo thermal underwear for skiing, which helped me keep warm in even the coldest snowstorms. Then, as I grew up, their baselayer bottoms eventually became too short for my legs, so I have been buying a few random pieces of equipment from outdoor stores. Make sure to shop around to get something that fits you well.

Also, before you commit to buying, think about how the top will look with your shirts. Is it going to be hidden under your top layer? Or will it be visible at the neck and you will feel awkward wearing it?

#4 Regular underwear

Take enough regular underwear for at least a week and then wash it whenever you need to. Try to take underwear that is comfortable, especially for hiking, and that you know dries quickly.

Also, make sure to pack some spare underwear into your hand luggage on your flight! On my first flight to Lima, my luggage didn’t arrive until 24 hours later and what I regret most was not having packed fresh underwear into my hand luggage.

#5 Socks

When packing socks, think about all the different climate zones you’re going to visit. For Lima and the beach, take light and short socks. For the Andes, take warm socks that are comfortable for hiking.

Colca Canyon hike in Peru

And finally, for the Amazon, make sure to pack long socks that cover your ankles. That way, you can tuck your trousers into your socks and protect yourself from leeches.

Yes, we know it looks a bit weird, but it works, and you don’t want any of those leeches on you.

Always keep in mind that you can wash your socks along the way, so you only need to take a few pairs.

#6 Fleece jacket

I have a Jack Wolfskin fleece jacket that I love and take on all of my trips. It serves as an extra layer on top of my long-sleeve shirts if I get cold, and it’s thin enough that I can wear a rain jacket on top to get even warmer.

No matter which climate zone you’re visiting, it pays off to have something on hand for cold nights. You might need it along the coast when the temperature drops after sunset. And you’ll love it in the Andes, where, depending on the altitude, you will need a warm layer all day long.

Reed Islands on Lake Titicaca, Peru

#7 Dress

If you’re not a girl, then just ignore this point. But if you are, and you are spending time in Lima, consider taking a light dress. Lima is a city, and a dress (or any non-trekking clothes) will help you blend in.

Plus, a dress is also perfect if you’re going to the beach.

#8 Rain jacket

Even if you’re visiting Peru during the dry season, you will need a rain jacket. It can rain at any time of the year, and it’s not unusual to experience a few rain showers during the day. A rain jacket will keep you dry, and it will also keep it warm if you wear it on top of your fleece jacket in the Andes.

Even though everyone goes hiking in Cusco, you can find other great hikes in Peru. For example, the Colca Canyon, which you can access from Arequipa, is a great trek that will allow you to see fantastic scenery.

Plus, a rain jacket offers protection from mosquitos when visiting the Amazon! Yes, it gets hot in the jungle, but I would rather be sweaty than eaten by bugs. Not to mention that mosquitos can transmit diseases like dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever.

Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz, Peru

I am currently using a Tierra Backup rain jacket. It’s super lightweight, and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, it isn’t widely available outside a few countries in Europe. If you come across it, though, I highly recommend you get it.

Daniel used to have the Foray Jacket from Outdoor Research, which he also loved until it got stolen. It was lightweight, comfortable and water-repellent, so perfect for travelling.

As an alternative, you can either buy a rain poncho or pick one up in Cusco. The advantage of a poncho is that it can also cover your backpack or handbag, so you don’t need to worry too much about it. On the downside, most rain ponchos you can buy are still made for one-time use and produce a lot of plastic. Consider getting a reusable one at home instead of a cheap plastic one in Cusco.

#9 Warm jacket

Carrying a warm jacket with you is not mandatory for a trip to Peru. I never had one and combined instead my fleece jacket, my rain jacket and multiple layers underneath. That was enough to keep me warm.

If you are afraid of getting cold, especially if you’re hiking up to high altitudes like Rainbow Mountain, we recommend that you rent a down jacket in Cusco. You can find multiple shops that rent outdoor equipment, and that way, you won’t have to carry it with you for your whole trip.

Nazca Lines, Peru

In addition, you can also buy cheap clothes at the local market in Cusco. I got a woollen jacket with a llama pattern which I wore for most of my time in the Andes. Then, when I moved on to a warmer climate zone, I gave it away to a girl I met in a hostel.  She was happy about her new jacket, and I was pleased that I didn’t have to carry it anymore.

#10 Hat and gloves

Up in the Andes, you will be happy to have a woollen hat that keeps your head warm. You should also consider taking gloves, especially if you go to high altitudes.

Once again, this is something you can easily pick up in Cusco. You will find lots of colourful hats and gloves at the local markets.

#11 Swimsuit

If you’re only going to the Andes, you can leave the swimsuit at home. But if you’re visiting any of the other climate zones, you should pack a swimsuit.

Beach in Mancora, Peru

Even if you’re not planning on going to the beach, your hotel might have a pool. Or maybe you find a waterfall in the jungle where you can swim. As a swimsuit is lightweight and easy to carry, it doesn’t hurt to put one into your bag.

#12 Shoes

You need to take a pair of shoes to Peru. Most websites will probably recommend hiking boots, especially if you go trekking in the Andes.

I have to admit that I’ve only taken hiking boots on a trip once before, and I don’t like carrying them. That’s why I usually travel with trainers only. I completed the Inca Trail while wearing a pair of Nike trainers and I currently own a pair of Skechers sneakers that I use for all of my hikes.

I love my shoes because I can blend in while wearing them in the city and they are still great for hiking. It saves me from having to carry a separate pair of hiking boots, which are usually very bulky.

Chan Chan ruins near Trujillo, Peru

Daniel, on the other hand, loves his hiking boots. He also wears them almost daily on long trips, so he’s not too bothered about carrying them.

Go with what is comfortable with you, but know that it is possible to complete the Inca trail with sneakers. Just make sure they’re proper trainers with a good profile underneath so you don’t slip on wet trails.

#13 Sandals / flip flops

Take a pair of either sandals or flip flops with you. If you go to the beach, you will be happy about having open shoes. You can also wear them in Lima and the Amazon. Even though you should wear closed shoes during the day in the rainforest, you will be happy to change your footwear in the evening, when you relax in your lodge.

You don’t need anything fancy. Take whatever flip flops you have at home. As an alternative, you can also get nice sandals or waterproof Teva sandals. I had those as a child for kayaking and always loved them.

#14 Toiletries

You will need to take all the toiletries you need. This includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, deodorant and a hairbrush. Also, make sure to pack any moisturisers or skin-care products that you rely on regularly.

Penguins on Islas Ballestas, Paracas, Peru

Just be careful not to take too much. Use small bottles if you want to take a variety of products. And for every item you pack, ask yourself if you really need it or if you could go without it for a while.

#15 Laundry detergent

Pack a small bottle of hand-washing laundry detergent so you can wash your clothes along the way. I usually carry a bottle of Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash. This soap is biodegradable, and even though the bottle is small, it will go a long way. I can travel for weeks or sometimes months before I’ve used all of it.

Plus, it’s an all-purpose soap so it’s useful in many situations.

#16 Insect repellent

Did you know that the rain forest is home to diseases like dengue, malaria and yellow fever? To protect yourself, you will have to take insect repellent.

Plus, you don’t want to be covered by hundreds of itchy mosquito bites.

I took a repellent with 50% DEET into the Amazon, which was barely enough. Therefore, we recommend that you bring insect spray with at least 40% DEET, which will help protect you from mosquitos and other insects that bite.

Giant lily pads in the Amazon in Peru

As an alternative, you can also buy insect repellent with picaridin. These sprays do not contain any DEET and are very popular here in Germany. I am unfortunately allergic, so I can’t use them. Before I developed my allergy, I always took those with me on trips worldwide and found them highly efficient while not as aggressive as DEET.

#17 Sunscreen and sunglasses

No matter where in Peru you go, you need sunscreen. At the coast, you will have sunshine all day long.

While it may seem dark at first in the Amazon, you will go to a river sooner or later. The reflection of sunlight on the water is going to burn your skin.

And in the Andes, even though the weather is cold, you are at an altitude where you will experience lots of UV radiation. The atmosphere usually weakens the sunlight. But up in the Andes, the rays will travel through less atmosphere before reaching you, so you burn more easily.

Paracas Peninsula, Peru

We highly recommend buying waterproof sunscreen, with SPF50 or above. You will get sweaty in the Amazon, and you might get wet in the Andes, so waterproof sunscreen offers more protection. Also, consider getting a higher level of protection if you have very sensitive skin.

And don’t forget your sunglasses, to protect your eyes!

#18 First aid kit and medicines

Make sure to take a small first aid kit on your trip. It doesn’t need to be big, as long as it contains a few bandages and any over-the-counter medicines you need. We recommend packing a pain killer, something against diarrhoea and something against nausea. If you are unsure of what to take, go and see a doctor before your trip and ask for their recommendations. They will know which substances are best for you.

Besides any emergency medication, you also need to remember to pack medicines that you take regularly.

When flying to Peru, pack all medication you regularly need into your hand luggage. That way, even if your check-in luggage gets delayed or lost, you don’t have to worry about running out of medication. And what you take regularly might not be available in Peru, so make sure to take enough.

Before visiting Peru, we highly recommend that you see a doctor who specialises in travel medicine. You might need vaccines for your trip. Schedule an appointment at least two months before you leave. The earlier, the better, so you have time to get all of the necessary shots. They can also let you know if it’s recommended to take a stand-by medication against malaria or if you need anything else.

#19 Travel insurance

No matter what you do, do not travel to Peru without travel insurance! In fact, Peru was the first country where I ever made use of my insurance. I got horrible abdominal cramps while we were at Lake Titicaca, so severe that I could not move at all.

Mummy bundles, Paracas, Peru

The hotel called a doctor, and fortunately, it wasn’t anything terrible. I received a few injections that instantly helped and felt good again two days later. While the doctor’s visit and the injections were surprisingly cheap, I still contacted the insurance, and they reimbursed the full cost.

Nevertheless, this was a dire warning that I could have caught something worse at any time. When Daniel got appendicitis in Japan, the hospital informed us that the treatment would be around 20,000€. The travel insurance paid all of it and until today, buying insurance is the best investment Daniel has ever made.

Depending on where you live, you have different insurances available to you. I have found that in Germany, we have access to cheaper insurances with higher coverage than in many other countries around the world.

Many international travellers buy insurance from WorldNomads, SafetyWings or Allianz Travel.

Do you want to learn from our mistakes? Buying travel insurance was the most important travel lesson we learned in 2019. Check out what the others are.

When shopping for insurances, make sure that all of the activities you plan on doing are covered. Some plans do not include hiking at high altitudes, so double-check on that.

Ceviche, Peru

Before you leave, write down your insurance’s emergency number and keep it somewhere safe (e.g. in your wallet). That way, you can call them at any time you need them. Don’t think that you can quickly look up the number on their website because you might not even have internet in case of an emergency.

#20 Travel documents

You will need to pack all of your travel documents. This includes your passport and any tickets, reservations, insurance documents and vouchers you need. Even if most of those documents are available digitally, we like to keep a paper copy of the most important ones. That way, if our phones break, we can still see them.

Parque de la Reserva, Lima, Peru

Make sure to take at least one copy of your passport, and keep it separate from your passport at all times. It’ll help to get a new document from the embassy, in case you lose your passport. We also like to send a digital copy to ourselves, which we can access from anywhere in the world.

#21 Money belt

I don’t think anyone enjoys wearing a money belt. And even though Peru is mostly safe for travellers, some crime exists. Stashing some emergency cash in your money belt will help you if your backpack or purse gets stolen. I also like to carry my passport in there when I can’t leave it at the hotel.

I have an Eagle Creek money belt. They come in multiple colours. I prefer the tan one (also called rose) because it’s less visible underneath clothing.

I also own a bra stash, which makes me feel a lot safer on my travels. I like to put a reserve credit card in there. It’s not visible at all, and if all of my money and credit cards ever get stolen, I will still be able to withdraw cash.

Hot chocolate and brownie in the Choco Museo, Peru

Talking about which. Make sure to always take a cash reserve of American Dollars. Those should be in a mint condition (or as close to a mint condition as you can get) and with an issue date as recent as possible. Also, inform your bank about your trip, so they don’t accidentally block your credit card.

#22 Quick dry towel

I always like to carry a quick-dry towel with me because you never know when you’ll need it. If you plan on doing any multi-day hikes, it will be useful to you. When we hiked the Inca Trail, the guides would always provide warm water to us so we could wash a bit. You might also need it in the Amazon or when going to one of the beaches along the coast.

I have two towels, which fit very different needs. One of them is the Lifeventure Trek Towel. It’s a microfibre towel, which dries well and is light enough to carry it in a suitcase. Plus, I like how well it dries me and how nice it feels on my skin.

Monastery Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru

My second towel is from N-rit and is a super light towel in XL. It is so small that I can easily take it everywhere and often just drop it into my daypack. The towel gets very wet after I’ve used it but then dries within an hour. Plus, it never gets smelly.

When buying your towel, make sure to compare to get something that is light, absorbent and big enough for your needs.

The Rainleaf towels receive great reviews, so they are a decent options as well.

Click here to check them out!

#23 Water bottle

When going to Peru, bring a reusable water bottle. Tap water is not safe to drink, and while you can buy bottled water everywhere, you don’t want to fill up the landscape with empty bottles.

Having a reusable bottle is especially important if you’re planning on doing any multi-day hikes, as your guides will usually fill up your bottle at the camp.

I love my Platypus bottle, which shrinks as I drink. It comes in different sizes, with the 2 litres and 1-litre versions being the most useful.

Paracas Peninsula, Peru

If you’re unsure about the quality of the water, you can also take a Steripen. This simple device works with UV light to treat water. The UV rays destroy more than 99.9% of all germs that live in the water and make it safe to drink. I’ve used the Steripen before when I wasn’t sure about the water quality and have never gotten sick after using it.

#24 Camera

Peru is an exceptionally beautiful country, and you will want to bring along a good camera.

Most phones have great cameras these days, but keep in mind that taking pictures with your phone usually means you won’t have a zoom lens. That’s fine for landscape pictures, but you might want better equipment to photograph animals and take close-ups.

Daniel and I both love our Sony mirrorless cameras for the outstanding quality of the pictures. Plus, being able to change lenses means that we can take stunning photos, no matter which situation. As an alternative, you can also take a compact camera with a great zoom, which will be less expensive and lighter.

Monkey in the Peruvian Amazon

#25 Spare batteries and power bank

Remember to take any spare batteries that you will need for your camera. You don’t want to stand on top of Machu Picchu and realise that you’ve run out of power!

We also love to take a power bank with us so we can recharge our equipment as needed. In fact, we even have two. We have a tiny power bank, which is so light and small that it fits into every pocket. And we have a much more powerful one, which is heavier but which gives us more charges.

Last, bring along an adapter so you can charge your devices in the hotel room. Keep in mind any differences in voltage (you will find 220V in Peru) and, if needed, also take a converter.

#26 Headlamp

One of the items that we highly recommend you take to Peru is a headtorch. As long as you stay in hotels, you should have light most of the time. But if you go hiking or travel to the Amazon, you will need to bring your own.

Yes, most phones have a torch these days. But the advantage of using a headlamp is that you have both hands available.

I own a Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp, which gives excellent light and is rechargeable. It’s not just great because it’s more sustainable, but I also don’t need to carry spare batteries with me.

Boats in the Amazon in Peru

#27 Day pack

Bring a day pack that you can easily carry. If you’re going hiking, we recommend a backpack where you can pack everything you need during the day. Daniel and I both have the Osprey Talon 22 backpack, which we love for its durability.

If you’re staying in Lima, you can also consider bringing a small handbag to carry around your belongings. It’ll help you blend in more compared to a backpack.

#28 Rain cover

The chances are high that you’ll encounter rain during your trip to Peru. Therefore, we highly recommend taking a rain cover for your day pack (and maybe even for your check-in luggage, if you are taking a big backpack). Most brands offer rain covers that precisely fit their backpacks, which is what we recommend you get.

Also, consider taking a dry bag to protect your electronics. This could be as simple as a zip-lock back for a compact camera, or a bigger dry bag if you have a mirrorless camera as we do.

Pyramids in Caral, Peru

#29 Books and playing cards

No matter how busy your itinerary, you will have downtime in the evening or, if you go to the Amazon, during the heat of the day.

A great way to pass the time is to either read a book or play cards with fellow travellers. I always carry a Kindle with me, which allows me to take all the books I want. I also like to take some simple playing cards. They’re great for socialising and getting to know other people.

#30 Sleeping bag

Depending on whether you want to do a multi-day hike, you can consider adding a sleeping bag to your Peru packing list. If you do, make sure that it keeps you comfortable even at temperatures below zero.

Good sleeping bags are either bulky or very expensive. If you don’t want to carry one with you during your whole trip, consider renting it in Cusco. The companies there have sleeping bags that are guaranteed to keep you warm, no matter at which altitude.

Huaca Pucllana, Lima, Peru

If the thought of renting a sleeping bag makes you uncomfortable, you can take your own sleeping bag liner. I almost always pack one, not just for camping but also in case I arrive at a hostel where the sheets don’t look clean. Sleeping in my own liner makes me feel more comfortable.

I own a Cocoon silk mummy liner, which I love because it’s so lightweight. Plus, it’s silk, so it’s very smooth and comfortable for sleeping.

We hope you now have a better understanding of all the items you will need to pack for your trip to Peru. While it might seem like a lot at first, keep in mind that many of the things we mentioned above are either small or don’t weigh much. And they will make your trip a lot better!

As I have spent a lot of time in Peru, we have many more resources that will help you plan your trip. Go and check out the following articles:

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Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

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