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.
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.
There is no need to worry about temperature when hiking Machu Picchu. Generally, the temperature remains consistent and moderate throughout the year.
On average, the highs are between 25-28 degrees Celsius and the lows are between 7-10 degrees Celsius. Of course this fluctuates with altitude and wind so expect cold spells on the higher reaches of the trails.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Don’t be disappointed if the view while you’re hiking is a masked in cloud. The mysterious fog will clear and you will be crestfallen.