What to Wear to Machu Picchu

Published February 07, 2019 | Updated Ocotber 21, 2020

Essential Clothes for Traveling to Machu Picchu

Peru is a country with diverse geography and ecology: from beaches to mountains, arid coastal deserts to the lush amazon rainforest. Machu Picchu is located in the midst of all of this, perched on a mountain ridge in the high-altitude cloud forest, at around 7,870ft.a.s.l. (2,400m.a.sl.). Because of its location, elevation and the ecosystem surrounding it, Machu Picchu has quite a unique set of conditions, which means that what you wear can really affect your experience there.

Weather in Machu Picchu

Being near to the equator and affected by high altitude, the seasons don’t follow the same patterns you might be used to. Instead of defined spring, summer, fall and winter seasons, there is a dry season and a wet season.  Machu Picchu is a year-round destination, but it is most popular during the dry season when there is a lower chance of rain and cloud cover. More details below:

  • DRY SEASON (May through November)
    There is generally very little rain during this time (although September to November create a transition period, with more precipitation than the other months), so you can expect clear skies and strong sun during the day. Daytime temperatures reach the high 70sF, but often drop into the low 50sF over night.
  • RAINY SEASON (December through April)
    During the rainy season temperatures are similar, although nighttime temperatures don't tend to drop below 55°F and daytime temperatures vary more based on cloud cover. And of course, you are more likely to be rained on during your trip at this time of year, although showers generally come in short, sharp bursts (except maybe in February) interspersed with warm, bright sunshine.
Hands darning a wiil sock with contrasting colors

Why Is Clothing Choice Important?

Most people choose to head up to Machu Picchu early in the morning when temperatures can still be low. This means you’ll be chilly in the bus queue or as you start your hike up, but once the sun comes out, it can get hot. You won’t want to carry a heavy jacket around with you all day! A trip to Machu Picchu also involves lots of walking and climbing stairs, especially if you decide to do one of the hikes (up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu Mountain, Huayna Picchu or to the Sun Gate), so because of this and the changing temperatures, you are likely to overheat in the wrong clothing.

Machu Picchu Packing List

Because of the varying temperatures, weather conditions and level of physical activity throughout the day, you’ll need to carefully consider what to wear and take with you. Here is our packing guide:

ESSENTIAL CLOTHING

  • Lightweight, breathable layers of different thicknesses for your top half, such as an alpaca wool t-shirt, with an alpaca base layer on top and, for women, an alpaca wool bra underneath.
  • Breathable leggings or hiking pants for your bottom half (zip off hiking pants which convert into shorts are ideal for some).
  • Hiking underwear. Underwear is often overlooked, but it is your first line of defense against sweat and odor, so our alpaca wool boxer briefs and panties are a great option.
  • Sports or hiking socks. Choose something lightweight and breathable like our alpaca wool hiking socks.
  • Rain jacket or poncho (usually rainy season only, but good to have just in case)
  • Rain pants (usually rainy season only)
  • Hiking shoes or boots, trail runners or hiking sandals. Footwear with good grip is essential, as there are lots of stone stairs that can be slippery, especially when wet and many people appreciate extra support when walking on uneven surfaces all day.  

OTHER ESSENTIAL ITEMS

  • A small daypack
  • Your passport/ID (that matches your tickets)
  • Machu Picchu entrance tickets
  • Bus tickets (if using)
  • Water and snacks
  • Cash for the bathrooms and food/drinks
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent 
  • Camera or camera phone (of course! Leave your selfie stick behind though, as they are not allowed)
Woman wearing alpaca wool base layer with sun

Alpaca Wool For Your Machu Picchu Trip

For your layers, alpaca wool is the best option! Wool has a reputation for being thick, heavy and warm, so only suitable for the winter. But in fact, it is perfect for traveling, hiking and other outdoor adventures, due to its superior breathability, lightness, and odor resistance. Alpaca wool has similar characteristics to superfine merino, but actually performs better. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Breathability: This refers to a fabric’s ability to wick sweat away from your skin, thereby keeping you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. This means that you can wear an alpaca wool long-sleeve shirt to help protect you from the sun, without overheating.
  • Fabric Weight: Of course, the weight of the fabric matters, so for warmer temperatures you’ll want to choose from our ultralight range (110 weight) while our lightweight range (230 weight) is great for the cooler mornings and evenings. Our mid layer range (420 weight) probably won’t be necessary for Machu Picchu, but you’ll welcome the extra warmth when you head to Cusco, where nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing.
  • Lightness: Lightweight clothing is more packable, so extra layers aren't heavy or bulky to carry around during the day. Alpaca wool is lighter than merino and cotton, so gives you the benefits of natural fibers, without the extra weight.
  • Odor Resistance: When traveling or hiking in warm conditions, you are bound to sweat, which leads to smelly clothing. Alpaca wool is naturally odor resistant meaning that one alpaca wool shirt, alpaca hiking socks, or set of alpaca wool underwear, will last for several days.

Pack Lighter, Explore Farther With Arms of Andes

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