Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is typically a “must do” experience for visitors to Peru, and it’s no surprise that the Peruvian authorities have limited the number of places available, and require hikers to work with an authorized tour company. While the better tour operators provide everything you need in terms of accommodation, food and drink, expert guides and more, the one thing they can’t offer is power sockets. Charging facilities are very unlikely to be available on the trail, and that can pose a problem for those with cameras, smartphones and other tech gear. Here are three different ways to keep your gadgets charged up and ready to go when you’re hiking the Inca Trail.
♦ A High-Capacity Portable Battery
The Inca Trail takes four days to hike, providing plenty of opportunity for your gear to go flat long before you reach the famous citadel at the end. A good portable battery lets you take your power with you, in a daypack-friendly size. Depending on what you need to charge, look for a battery with a 15000-20000mAH capacity – this will give you enough juice to charge a phone or similar device multiple times. Many of the better ones have an inbuilt flashlight as well, for those late-night trips to the bathroom. Check that any portable battery you buy is rated for the devices you need to charge – iPhones and tablet computers, in particular, need more power. Look for a battery with at least one 2.1 amp USB port to be sure.
♦ A Good Solar Recharging Kit
If you’ve got a few more gadgets and are likely to burn through the charge in your portable battery before the end of the trail, consider a Goal Zero solar recharging kit as well. It’s one of the few solar chargers that’s relatively light and compact, yet actually works even when you’re on the move. The Switch 8 / Nomad 7 kit combines a pair of solar panels that can be hung from a backpack with a small battery that holds enough charge for a smartphone. Depending on how much sun you get each day, it’s possible to fully charge the battery as you hike, or just keep your phone topped up inside your bag. It uses a standard USB connection, letting you keep your phone, flashlight or other small USB device charged indefinitely.
♦ Extra Camera Batteries, Or a Way to Charge Them
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are incredibly photogenic places, and the last thing you want is for your camera to die as you stand overlooking the Temple of the Sun. If you can buy additional batteries for your model of camera, it’s well worth doing so (and making sure they’re charged up before you leave!). Some cameras can charge directly from USB, so the portable battery mentioned above will be even more useful for those. If you can’t buy extra batteries and your camera uses a non-standard charger, don’t give up hope. Small universal chargers are available that will adapt to almost any camera battery that physically fits inside them, and charge via USB.
Example: Lenmar Universal Clip Charger
Finally, don’t forget that all electronic items have a temperature range and maximum altitude that they are rated to work at. The Trail to Machu Picchu climbs as high as 13779 ft. (4200m), and temperatures in winter can drop below freezing at night. Be sure to check the specifications for any gear that you plan to take, and only use it when conditions allow. There’s not much you can do about the height, but it may be worth keeping your gadgets in the bottom of your sleeping bag overnight – it’s not just you that prefers to stay nice and toasty in the mountains!