Best Time to Visit and Hike Machu Picchu: A Detailed Guide

Apr 22, 2023 | Tour, Travel, Travel Articles | 0 comments

Best Time To go to Machu Picchu post

Machu Picchu when is the best time to visit?, the legendary Incan citadel nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru near Aguas Calientes town, is a destination that beckons travelers from around the globe.

Its mystique, architectural inca engineering building, and stunning natural setting make it a bucket-list adventure. However, the timing of your visit can significantly impact your experience.

In this Peru Vacation Travel Guide, we’ll delve into the best times to explore Machu Picchu, considering various factors such as weather, crowds, and local events to help you plan the perfect trip.

The Seasons of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu experiences two primary seasons: the dry season and the wet season. Each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Dry Season (April to October)

  • Weather: The dry season, from April to October, is considered the best time to visit Machu Picchu. During these months, the weather is generally clear, providing stunning views and excellent hiking conditions. Daytime temperatures are mild, ranging from 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), while nights can be chilly.
  • Crowds: This period, especially from June to August, coincides with the peak tourist season. Expect larger crowds and the necessity for early bookings, particularly if you’re planning to hike the 4 days Inca Trail.
  • Pros: Clear skies and minimal rain enhance your chances of capturing those iconic photos of the ruins. It’s also the best time for trekking, with dry and stable trails.
  • Cons: Higher tourist numbers can detract from the tranquility of the site. Accommodations and flights may be more expensive and harder to secure.

Wet Season (November to March)

  • Weather: The wet season runs from November to March, characterized by frequent rain showers. Temperatures remain relatively warm, but the rainfall can make hiking trails slippery and less accessible.
  • Crowds: This is the low season for tourism. You’ll find fewer visitors, which means a more serene experience at Machu Picchu and better availability for last-minute bookings.
  • Pros: Lush, green landscapes make for beautiful scenery. The lower number of tourists allows for a more intimate exploration of the site.
  • Cons: Rain can disrupt travel plans, and the risk of landslides on the Inca Trail can lead to closures. The famous Sun Gate view may be obscured by clouds and mist.
Blissful Travel escapes Machu Picchu
Blissful Travel escapes Machu Picchu

Month-by-Month Breakdown

April to May: A Perfect Balance

  • Weather: These months mark the transition from the wet to the dry season. The landscape is still green from recent rains, but the weather is becoming more stable.
  • Crowds: Moderate, offering a good balance between decent weather and fewer tourists.
  • Highlight: This period is ideal for photography enthusiasts looking to capture the vibrant greenery against the backdrop of ancient ruins.

June to August: Peak Season

  • Weather: Clear skies and minimal rain, making it perfect for outdoor activities.
  • Crowds: Expect the highest number of tourists, especially in June and July.
  • Highlight: The Inti Raymi festival in June is a major cultural event that attracts many visitors, providing a unique insight into Incan traditions.

September to October: The Quiet Dry Season

  • Weather: Similar to June through August, with clear skies and mild temperatures.
  • Crowds: Tourist numbers start to decline, making it a quieter time to visit.
  • Highlight: Ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed experience without compromising on weather conditions.

November to March: Embracing the Wet Season

  • Weather: Frequent rains, but also the lushest landscapes.
  • Crowds: Significantly fewer tourists.
  • Highlight: December through February is the low season, offering the most tranquil experience at Machu Picchu. The site feels almost magical amid the mist and greenery.

Special Considerations for the Inca Trail

For those planning to hike the Inca Trail, timing is crucial. The trail is closed in February for maintenance, making it impossible to trek during this month.

Additionally, during the wet season, the trail can be more challenging due to muddy conditions. If trekking the Inca Trail is a must for your visit, aim for the dry season months.

Best time to Hike the Inca Trail

Similar to Machu Picchu, hiking the Inca Trail is best just outside the busy dry season. The temperatures in October are ideal for hiking, ranging from 22˚C (72˚F) during the day to 12˚C (54˚F) at night. May is another great time to hike the Inca Trail, with similar temperatures and quiet trails.

Even so, if you don’t mind the crowds and want nearly guaranteed sunny days, July and August will be superb. Just be sure to book your Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu in advance as permits sell out quickly!

Inca Trail Weather

The Inca Trail is a gorgeous hike, especially in the dry season. There’s nothing like the feeling of the hot sun on your skin after a chilly morning. You’ll need to pack layers and be prepared for all types of weather during any season though, because the weather on the trail can change rapidly.

You’re pretty much guaranteed blue skies during June, July, and August, but just in case, you should still come prepared with rain gear.

When is the Inca Trail Closed?

Although the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed in February, the Lares Inca Trail remains open. The Lares trek is a great alternative, especially since there are fewer hikers on the trail during this season, meaning you can enjoy the scenery in solitude. Hike through the beautiful, lush landscapes of the Lares Valley in the wet season.

Insider Tips for a Memorable Visit

  1. Book Early: Regardless of the season, it’s wise to book your tickets to Machu Picchu and any associated tours or treks well in advance, especially if visiting during peak season.
  2. Acclimatize: Spend a few days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before heading to Machu Picchu to acclimatize to the altitude and avoid altitude sickness.
  3. Pack Wisely: Bring layers, as temperatures can vary widely throughout the day. Waterproof gear is essential during the wet season.
  4. Visit Early or Late: To avoid the largest crowds, consider visiting the site early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Inca Trail 4 days
4 days Inca Trail

Best time of day to visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an incredible historical site, but visiting can be busy because of the large number of visitors that come daily. If you want to have the best possible experience, I would highly recommend arriving early in the morning.

You will be able to watch the sunrise and beat all the crowds. If you don’t want to get up super early, another great option is to arrive around 3 pm. By then the majority of the crowds will have already left, and you will be able to experience the underrated beauty of the sunset.

Planning a trip to Machu Picchu

If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Machu Picchu yourself, here are a few things you should consider: book well in advance, especially during the busy season, and do your research before setting off.

Peru is home to countless historical and cultural sites, and unless you’re traveling with a knowledgeable local guide, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with all of the local legends and hidden treasures off the beaten track. Here are a few things to do in Machu Picchu that you should consider!

When is Machu Picchu the most Crowded?

In the main season of June through August, you can assume every day will be busy at Machu Picchu. Outside of the dry season, other dates also see an influx of travelers, students, and families. These include:

  • Thanksgiving Holiday – End of November
  • Christmas Holiday & Winter break – December 23 to mid/late January
  • Spring Break – One week in March or early April. This is a popular time for students to visit the Americas
  • Summer Break – Early/mid-May to the day after Labour Day in early September
  • Major federal and state holidays – Religious holidays also need to be considered
  • Peru Independence Day (July 28 – 28), is a very popular time for Peruvians to visit Machu Picchu

Availability of Machu Picchu Tickets

Machu Picchu is a bucket list destination for a lot of travelers because of its mystique, architectural grandeur, and stunning natural setting. If you’re planning to visit Machu Picchu for the best experience, it’s important to know that the Peruvian government controls the number of people that can visit each day, how long visitors can stay, and where they can explore.

This is to ensure that every visitor can experience the magic of Machu Picchu without hordes of people and to also preserve the World Heritage Site so that future generations can appreciate its beauty.

Since prices and the number of visitors have been changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s best to refer to www.incatrailpe.com website for the most up-to-date information. You can also choose to leave the planning to local experts by joining an all-inclusive Inca Trail and Machu Picchu tour.

Machu Travel Peru way To Get There
Machu Picchu Inca City from the Sun Gate

Popular Machu Picchu Tours

Machu Picchu, a place of stunning natural beauty and historical significance, offers travelers two main options for exploring it: a one-day trip or a longer multi-day hike. Which one is right for you depends on your time, activity level, and personal preferences.

The one-day option is ideal for those with limited time. The hike up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes takes about an hour and a half, and the journey down is slightly shorter. It is also possible to get there by bus. The trail is generally easy to follow, and you can choose whether to walk, run, or even take a shuttle bus for a large portion of the way.

The multi-day hike is a more immersive and active way to experience Machu Picchu. These guided hikes typically last four or five days and include visits to authentic Peruvian villages, ancient agricultural terraces, Incan ruins, and even a bike ride through the Andean wilderness.

No matter which option you choose, Machu Picchu is sure to impress you with its awe-inspiring beauty and incredible history.

1-Day Machu Picchu Hike

You can trek from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu at any time of the year. The actual trek up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes uphill and slightly less coming down. The hike ascends about 390 meters (1,280 feet) on a dirt track, stone pathways, or shuttle bus routes.

You can choose to do this hike if you are hiking the Lares Inca Trail on your journey to Machu Picchu or on our Peru & Galapagos Explorer tour. The only time you cannot take this one-day hike to Machu Picchu is when hiking the Inca Trail, as this route brings you to Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate.

Multi-Day Hikes To Machu Picchu

The two most popular trails to hike on your journey to Machu Picchu are the Classic Inca Trail and the Lares Inca Trail. Depending on which option you choose, a multi-day guided hike to Machu Picchu, usually lasting 4 or 5 days or as part of a 10-day Peru experience, will take you on an incredible journey through authentic Peruvian villages, ancient agricultural terraces, Incan ruins, and a bike ride through the Andean wilderness.

Additionally, we will explore the inca trail Amazon Rainforest on our 12-day Ultimate Peru Adventure.

Conclusion

Choosing the best time to travel to Machu Picchu depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and activities.

Whether you opt for the clear skies of the dry season or the lush landscapes of the wet season, Machu Picchu’s awe-inspiring beauty and historical significance will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. Plan thoughtfully, prepare adequately, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to one of the world’s most iconic destinations.

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