Best Time To Hike To Machu Picchu | Mountain IQ
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Best Time To Hike To Machu Picchu

Machu-Picchu-Hight

Machu Picchu is one of the most admired archaeological and historical sights in the world. It was built in the 1450s and is thought to have been a country residence for an emperor or an important place of worship.

Now, an estimated 1.2 million people make the journey to Machu Picchu. If you’re considering doing it yourself and want to plan a trip, we’ve got the low-down on the best time to hike.

Best Time To Trek Machu Picchu Overview

Inca-Trail-Machu-Picchu

Simply put, we think that the best time to hike Machu Picchu is at the beginning and end of the dry season:

Late April to early May and Late September to early October. 

These times have the advantage of significantly fewer tourists on the trails and in the Citadel than during peak season, and have relatively little rainfall. These times of the year are also slightly warmer than the July/August peak hiking period.

However, if you do not mind being bustled about by busy tourists, on the trails, in hotels and on the daily train from Cusco to Machu Picchu then the best time to visit and hike Machu Picchu is during the dry season from May to September.

Note that if you want to hike the Inca trail during the peak season, then it is important to book early to ensure that you secure a permit (only 500 official permits are issued per day, and about half of these are used by guides and porters). Otherwise, you could hike Lares Trek, Vilcabamba or Salkantay, which are less crowded than the Inca Trail but are also a bit more challenging. 

The rainy months are not great for hiking, and we suggest you avoid planning a hike over December, January and February. Rather than simply being uncomfortable, the rain and fog cause muddy, tricky terrain and there is a real possibility of flashfloods and landslides. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed each year in February for maintenance.

If you just want to take a train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you could get lucky with clear weather and have a lovely day with Machu Picchu to yourself (mostly). There is still a slim possibility of rain in November and March which would make hiking tricky if you’re unlucky.

This article with provide you with historical weather charts on rainfall, wind and temperature during different parts of the year. There are only really two seasons in sub-tropical Andes – dry and wet, and that temperature generally remains moderate in the day and cold at night.

Machu Picchu Weather Considerations By Month

Have a look at the break down of weather and other considerations to help you decide when to visit Machu Picchu.

Click on each tab to read more details.

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

April

Rain starts to dry up towards the end of April, fewer tourists than in the dry season, good time to visit Machu Picchu and to hike the Inca trail

Temperature: Average daytime high is 21 °C (70 °F), average nighttime low is 6 °C (42 °F)
Rain: On average, 9 days of the month are affected by rain or drizzle, amounting to approximately 41 mm (1.6 inches) of rain per month
Wind: The average daily wind speed is 5 km/h (3.1 mph)
Humidity: Relative humidity is 63 % on average
Fog: Generally low levels of fog

Two Seasons

Machu-Picchu-Purpose-Mistery

There are two main seasons in the sub-Peruvian Andes; the dry and the wet.

Late April to late October are the months during which Machu Picchu is dry. Therefore, it is probably a better time to hike for most people. This is due to the lesser chance of rain which makes the terrain easier to hike and more of an enjoyable experience in general.

In early November to early April, the wet and warmer season is in full swing. This is the less popular time of year to hike to Machu Picchu because of the increased rain chance and more humid weather.

Peak Season

Machu-Picchu-Marathon

Photo By Inca Trail Marathon

Machu Picchu attracts most of its visitors during May through to September as the chance of rain is lower than that at any other point in the year.

This means that trails at this time of year are busy and you will not have them to yourself. Hotels will be busier and to secure permits you have to be prepared months in advance.

If being part of a large crowd doesn’t bother you, we would recommend going in peak season.

Definitely travel in May through to September if you are not a seasoned hiker too. After all, you do not want to be caught off guard by some tricky terrain.

We would also say that if you are going during the peak season and want to do the Inca Trail then you must book in advance. Hiking to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail without a permit is not possible and there are only five hundred available a day (250 of which are for staff and guides).

Off-Peak Season

Machu-Picchu-Best-Adventures-For-Solo-Females

February is our ‘no-no’ month.

The famous Inca Trail is actually closed during February for restoration, so if you’re planning a trip during this month, you will be disappointed.

There is no alternative Inca route that arrives directly at the Inca ruin. No other trail replicates the stunning view we have seen time and time again. However, there are other trails to explore.

In addition to this, both January and February are the wettest months of the year.

We would not recommend Machu Picchu during this time because of the increased chance of rainfall. There is still a possibility of hitting lucky with some lovely weather but we wouldn’t suggest pinning your hopes on this.

Unfortunately, the weather is unpredictable. We would say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you really want to hike Machu Picchu without a large group with you, we recommend the shoulder months of the dry season (April-May) and late September through October to early November.

Temperatures By Month

There is no need to worry about temperature when hiking Machu Picchu. Generally, the temperature remains consistent and moderate throughout the year.

The temperature during the day will usually be warm and quite humid, while at night it can drop to zero or below. This is common in May through to September and is a key feature of sub-tropical regions.

Below are the average high and low temperatures for each month of the year in Machu Picchu.

The average highs are consistently around 22°C and the average lows around 5°C. Notice that while the temperatures can fluctuate up to 30°C in the day, they plummet in the evenings and are known to reach well below 0°C. 

It is therefore essential that you pack layers of clothing, so that you are prepared of whatever weather the mountain throws at you. See our list of gear that we suggest you pack for your trip to Machu Picchu.

Machu-Picchu-Temperatures-by-Month-Farenheit-Celcius

Average Monthly Rainfall

The rain chart below shows the distinction between the rainfall in the dry months (May – September) and the wet months (October – April).

If you want to avoid the rain and don’t mind being joined by crowds of other tourists, the best months for your trip are between May and September. We recommend optimizing the weather and busyness by planning your trek for April or October.

Machu-Picchu-Average-Rainfall-By-Month-MM

Shown differently, here is the number of days per month affected by rain or drizzle. This will give you a better idea of your chances of encountering rain on your trek.

Machu-Picchu-Days-With-Rain

Average Wind Speed Each Month

As shown in the chart below, the wind speeds in Machu Picchu are rather low and constant throughout the year. The grey bars show the record highs in the region.

Machu-Picchu-Average-Wind-Speed-By-Month-KmH

Final Tips

While we recommend that you hike Machu Picchu in Early May or Late September, we realise that you can’t always go exactly at the perfect time for the mountain – life gets in the way.

So, if you’ve managed to get a hiking permit for one of the drier months, or if you’ve planned a Peruvian Christmas and are wondering whether hiking the Inca trail is still worth it – of course it is. Many trekkers have reported fantastic experiences at almost all times of the year (barring February) – even those who have hiked in constant rain. In fact, the foggy atmosphere and spooky drizzle of a December trek has turned out to be a highlight for many.

Whenever you get to Machu Picchu, we’re sure you will have a great time. For seasoned travellers and hikers, the shoulder months of the dry season as well as the latter three months of the year will be the best time for you.

Anyone relatively inexperienced and comfortable with sharing the popular Inca Trail will benefit from travelling during the peak season.

Remember that no matter what time of year you hike to Machu Picchu, fog will be present. It usually prevails until late morning or early afternoon, but it does often clear!

Best-Time-to-Hike-to-Machu-Picchu-MountainIQ

About the Author Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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