Photography on Machu Picchu is amazing! Here’s my photography gear travel packing list, which you can use, too! It includes my camera bag and everything inside. I hiked up that steep mountain at 5 o’clock in the morning with all this, plus plenty of drinking water, snacks, and lunch. It definitely helps to pack the camera bag the night before, preventing an early morning scramble searching for another memory card.

Also, here is my recommended Machu Picchu photography itinerary! I sure wish I’d had this before my trip, since it explains timing and locations from a photographers perspective. Be sure to check out Ollantaytambo on the way.

photography gear travel packing list. View of Machu Picchu

Photography Gear Travel Packing List

First of all, everything in this list fits in my daypack. My daypack is a regular hiking backpack I bought at an outdoors store. It’s worth going to the store and trying on a few backpacks, because if your pack doesn’t fit well or is uncomfortable, you are going to hate walking or hiking with it all day. That’s why I get backpacks that have a waistbelt, chest strap, and outside water bottle holder. Those are the features I prioritize.

Here’s the exact big backpack I have:

And, here is a daypack very similar to mine:

Bags That Fit Within My Camera Bag

Dry Sack

I have 3 waterproof sacks in various sizes. If it starts raining, I put all my things in the biggest bag. I have a 2nd smaller bag, because if it’s a misty or foggy day, I keep my SLR in it while the camera strap is over my shoulder, just to keep the moisture mostly off of it. The third bag is for heavy rain or waterfalls, because for electronics the instructions recommend double-bagging.

Lens Bag

I keep my 2 camera lenses in this cushioned Crumpler bag. There are other sizes, but this is what I need. It has small pockets on the outside for memory cards. This bag offers protection when I set my backpack down on rocks, or should my water bottle leak someday. It’s gone with me through Mongolia, USA, South America, and Southeast Asia, and still looks and acts like new! It keeps out sand at beaches and dust in deserts. Also, since it fits even in my smallest daypack, I consider it a lifetime purchase.

Pro Tip Some purchases might seem expensive or overpriced, but if they protect items 10x more expensive and will last a lifetime it’s worth the cost!

 

Fleece-Lined Bag for Camera

While walking with my SLR camera slung over my shoulder, I keep it in a fleece-lined stuff sack. I tighten the drawstring where the camera strap meets the camera (a single point) minimizing llama hair, city grime, and countryside dust from dirtying my most valuable travel gear. Meanwhile, the fleece offers some protection when I set it down on a lunch table or on the ground at a picnic. Finally, the covering also prevents bad people knowing exactly what I’m carrying, which makes me feel less of a target for crime. Note: My camera strap doesn’t have a brand name written on it.

The camera also stays in this cover whenever it’s packed in any of my bags. I don’t use a camera-specific bag or backpack, since this cover is small and allows me packing flexibility.

SLR Camera and Accessories

Camera Body

I use the Canon 70D DSLR. Although not a full-frame camera, I prefer it because:

  • The flip-out screen allows you to see your shot by angling the screen for glare. Also, low angle shots don’t require crawling around on the ground.
  • Wi-Fi connects the camera to my phone, allowing editing and posting to the internet directly from the phone– no laptop needed.

Check the camera settings are correct for your first expected images, including timezone, date, photo format (e.g. RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG), and expected ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed.

Charged Batteries

Triple check that all batteries are actually charged by putting each battery in the camera and powering on the camera. After a friend arrived with a dead battery that had been ‘charging’ overnight, we both learned the importance of this step.

 

Memory Cards

I carry three 32 GB cards with 95mb/s, because

  • I prefer to have several smaller cards (32 GB, instead of 64 or 128 GB) instead of one large card. This is because relying on a single card can cause issues if it gets corrupted, or somehow damaged when outside of the camera while transferring photos to another device.
  • UPDATE: Gary Arndt, a wonderful photographer and travel blogger, advised me that he has started using 256 GB SD cards. “I prefer to have everything in my camera, and I’ve found that I can keep several weeks worth of photos there,” he writes. He backs his photos up to a hard drive “sort of daily,” because “SD cards can fail, but they are easier and cheaper to recover than a hard drive if it gets corrupted.” {{ If you aren’t already, be sure to follow Gary on Intagram. }}
  • The cards are tiny and lightweight, so add nothing to a trip that is not extreme expedition style.
  • The faster read and write speed of 95mb/s allows me to use auto-drive when capturing an animal or action shot.

Lenses

Keep weight in mind, since hiking is steep and there are many stairs and cobblestones pathways. I carried two lenses.

Camera Strap

Choose something that is not a neck strap, since this can cause pain by midday. Cross-body camera straps or waist belt attachments are best. I use the Joby Slingstrap for women, because it quickly adjusts in length with a lever, which is great for shooting while hiking. I shorten the strap when walking and lengthen it when shooting. There are versions for both men and women.

Tripod

Select a ballhead tripod that is both light-weight and holds the weight of your camera body + heaviest lens. A tripod is necessary when using slow shutter speeds for capturing the beautiful early morning and late afternoon low light shots. I like this Terra Firma tripod, and the price is right, since it comes with a ballhead!

Pro Tip Why do you want a ballhead for your tripod? Because it rotates in all directions, just like your shoulder socket. The rotation is the difference between 360 degrees, like your shoulder, or 2 directions, like your knee. Read all about tripods and ballheads in this post.

 

Polarizing Filter

On a sunny day, a polarizing filter (or, polarizer) will cut down the bright light, so you might still get a decent photo at noontime. It also increases color saturation (improves cloud and rainbow shots) and reduces reflections on non-metallic surfaces (great for shooting through water and better capture fish or rocks beneath the surface).

If you aren’t sure why, when, or how to use a polarizing filter, have a look at my Polarizing Filter page.

 

If your lenses are various sizes, and you want to carry only 1 UV filter it is possible with a step-up ring in the size of your other lens. If you aren’t familiar with these, they’re described on the Polarizing Filter page.

 

Smartphone and Accessories

Smartphone

The front facing camera on my iPhone is excellent. Google’s Pixel is also exceptional. The HDR capability allows beautiful photos at all hours of the day and night. Photos from my iPhone 5 and 6s appear throughout this website and related social media. And, if you’re not in the market for a brand new phone, try an older model or refurbished phone.

Protective Phone Cases

I suggest buying a case, even a very cheap one, just for preventing major damage in case you drop the phone. I have two cases, one for everyday and one that is waterproof. Both of these cases have a little hole for attaching a lanyard that comes included. The lanyard is short and loops over my wrist. It looks silly until it’s in use… Would you hold your phone over a cliff without a second chance at catching it if it slips out of your hand? Or out a bus window for some cool video?

Pro Tip For any waterproof case, read the instructions!! I know many of us don’t like reading instruction booklets, but make an exception on this one– you don’t want to ruin your phone!

Lens

Olloclip – This 4-in-1 lens is slightly bigger than my thumb and slides onto the phone. This 1 small piece allows for macro, wide-angle, and fish-eye photos. It fits tightly, staying in place throughout the day. I haven’t found a clip-on lens that I like, since they shift with the slightest bump, and fall off when when I put my phone in my bag.

Tripod

I love my Gorillapod by Joby! The jointed legs wrap around fences and rocks. And, this version has magnets on the bottom of the legs, allowing it to stick to lampposts and other metal objects. The phone snaps into the mount, so goes on and off the tripod in less than a second. Easy to use.

Recharger / Power Bank

This power bank recharges my phone a few times, so definitely lasts all day long. At home I rarely run through my phone battery in 12 hours. However, when shooting a lot of photo and video, the battery runs down quicker than I expect. The recharger requires 2 cords. One cord to charge the recharger from the wall, which I leave in the hotel room. The 2nd cord is the same one that charges your phone from the wall or any other device, and must be brought along anyway.

Questions for You, Dear Reader

What items would you (or have you) include on this photography gear travel packing list for Machu Picchu?

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Do you have questions about any of the items? Let me know in the comments below, so everyone can learn. Finally, for all photography or Peru content on this website, please use the search tool for ‘Peru’ or ‘photography’.

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photography gear travel packing list for Machu Picchu

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Using the links to these products when purchasing them, or anything else on that website, is much appreciated! At no cost to you, a small percentage of your cost will come to me. That helps pay for things like website hosting, internet connectivity, and more. Thank you!

packing list