4,000, that is the number of people who visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Machu Picchu daily. From the fit, adrenalin junkies to the ambling ruin-seer, each visitor is attired differently. Through personal experience, Style Sans Frontières recommends the following gear for some of the activities available on your visit to this mythical site.
Remember, you are in the jungle. This means the climate and weather can change from day-to-day, even from hour-to-hour. On the first day SSF arrived by train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and then took a bus to the ‘Lost Inca City’. Rising early in the morning was chilly but on arrival at the site around 10 am-ish the sun was well-risen, lesson number one: wear sunglasses and sunscreen. I simply wore a pair of Rayban-style shades given to me by a guy I met in a bar in Whistler, Canada, which kept the glare off. My preferred sunscreen on my face is ‘Super City Block’ by Clinique as it isn’t oily and enables make-up to be applied easily on top.
By ascending Machu Picchu’s summit, to Mountain Gate, SSF shirked off most of the crowd. The ascent is made most difficult by the effects of altitude on the lungs but the view and bragging rights are worth the effort, but only for the fit! Warning: if it was hot like when SSF climbed the summit apply ample sun cream to the neck and any other areas of exposed skin, SSF learnt the hard way. Should the heavens open then the steps and path may be slippery. Lesson two: wear shoes with a good grip, hiking boots are only needed for those with weak ankles, otherwise trainers will do.
On day two SSF got the 6 am bus to the entrance gate, ready for the gates to open at 7 am (as informed by Lonely Planet). As it turns out, the gates open at 6 am and the crowd at the turnstiles was already big. The rain and clouds covered some of the highest peaks at first but soon these dissipated and once again revealed the piercing sun. For this reason, it is a good idea to wear trousers with segments that zip on/off so you can regulate heat: wearing jeans means you may fry later in the day, wearing shorts means you may face goosebumpy legs in the morning mist.
SSF was guided around the ruins by a guide called Darwin from Lima Tours who told the tale of the lost Inca city like a National Geographic documentary, he really brought the past alive. Our guide Darwin fought off the sun with some sleek shades and a cap with long sides to cover the neck, you have to be a cool dude or Machu Picchu veteran to pull this hat off SSF thinks. SSF wore a cap from a preferred ski hotel in Lech am Alberg, Austria, and wrapped the sleeves of a hoodie around the neck but would recommend a jazzy scarf or sarong too.
After a riveting tour around the city, SSF walked to Sun Gate, a much easier route than that of the summit and suitable for all ages. Here, again, only something to protect the neck and trainers are necessary. (My mum wore ‘North Face’ hybrid trainers like the ‘Hedgehog GTX III’ by North Face.)
Lesson three: take a small day bag with a raincoat to fend off any undesired wind or rain. Although it is officially stated on all signs that water is not allowed in the area this appeared not to be true so keep a good supply in your bag. Hope this helps in planning your trip!
NOTE: SSF visited Machu Pichu in mid-September.