Best time to hike Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

To explain about the best time to do Inca Trail 4 days to Machu Picchu, we have to explain the weather in the Cusco region, witch is very uncertain, you can never know when it will be cold or hot.

The best time to hike the Inca Trail is before and after the rainy season, also considered high season, i.e. late April, May, September, October and early November. The dry months of June, July and August are also excellent. However, crowds can be very large during this period.

The reason to hike the Inca Trail during these months is that everything is in bloom. The mountains are covered in shades of green and along the trail you can see many flowers and orchids in bloom. The weather is still mostly dry and temperatures are pleasant. Permits may be used somewhat less quickly than in the peak months and the trails are not yet crowded with hikers.

Rainy season

The months where we have more presence of rain are from December to April, for this reason the government prefers to close the Inca Trail for a whole month (February) to keep all visitors safe as well as to refurbish and preserve our heritage.

Best time to do Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail 4 Days

Dry season

In the dry season (high season in tourism) which is from May to November we enjoy a better summit but with a high number of visitors, however this does not mean that we do not have presence of rain along our route since the Andes never stop surprising us. This is the time when temperatures drop the most, with cold nights but gloriously sunny and cloudless days.

For both routes it is recommended to bring warm clothes, a good pair of walking shoes, wind breaker, sunscreen, sunglasses, a T-shirt.

Hiking the Inca Trail from March to April

During these months, rainfall decreases. The skies begin to clear and in a month the high tourist season arrives. One of the reasons to hike the Inca Trail during these months is that you can see everything green.

The good

  • Waterfalls to see in the middle of the hike.
  • The temperature is warmer, especially at night, with a significant variation from months like June or July.
  • The Inca Trail has recently undergone maintenance.
  • See the valleys covered in green before winter.
  • Walking among fewer people in Machu Picchu.
  • Possibility of obtaining permits for the Inca Trail, even arriving in Cusco in March.
  • Perfect weather to catch the clouds.
  • Witness the incredible rainbow phenomena.

The bad

  • There is a 70% chance of rain in March until early April.
  • The view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate is constantly obscured by fog in March.
  • Risk of landslides in early March.
  • Does not coincide with the vacation months.

Inca Trail hike from May to August

June and July are the best seasons for hiking on the Inca Trail and in the Cusco region. Daytime temperatures exceed 20°C and nighttime temperatures drop well below 5°C at the highest campsites. Only these months are the busiest because they coincide with the summer vacations of the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere. This season is more suitable for those who don’t care about crowds but do care about the weather.

The good

  • An excellent opportunity to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.
  • On sunny days you can admire the beautiful flora and fauna and the occasional bird.
  • Capture the extraordinary views of the snow-capped mountains.
  • The southern Milky Way appears in the night sky.
  • The sky will be blue and bright.
  • Precipitation will be lighter.
  • This is the month when the moon is brightest in the night sky.
  • Wild animals, such as deer, come to drink at small lakes.

The bad

  • It can be very cold at night, but quite warm at dawn.
  • Inca Trail permits wear out more quickly.
  • Brown grass in the landscape instead of greenish tones.
  • Long queues at the entrance to Machu Picchu and at the train stations.
  • Lots of people around strategic points to take pictures.

Hiking the Inca Trail from September to November

How about an Inca Trail hike in spring? From September to November, the number of visitors starts to decrease. With the nice weather and thinning crowds, it’s also a good time to enjoy the picturesque Inca Trail ruins without the fog getting in the way.

The good

  • Thanks to rainwater, a variety of plants bloom and flower beautifully along the sides of the trail and beyond.
  • Hiking the Inca Trail in spring, without bad weather, is phenomenal.
  • Orchids and hummingbirds are often visible along this spectacular stretch of trail above the Urubamba River.
  • Waterfalls are visible from the middle of the hike.
  • An ideal moment to photograph a time lapse of clouds.
  • Observe the incredible rainbow phenomenon.

The bad

  • Showers usually occur in the afternoon, so always bring good rain gear.
  • Mosquitoes get to you and bother you.
  • The first rains start in September.

Hiking the Inca Trail from December to February

December, January and February are wet seasons. It is not recommended to hike the Inca Trail, especially in January, where Inca Trail is closed. Landslides can occur, especially in January, February and March. For example, on January 23, 2020, the Inca Trail had to be closed early due to a landslide (which unfortunately caused the death of one person).

The good

  • All the vegetation takes on a greener color, enveloping the valleys along the trail.
  • Thanks to rainwater, a wide variety of plants flourish and thrive on the sides of the trail and beyond.
  • After the bad days, there are the good ones.
  • Hiking the Inca Trail in December, without bad weather, is phenomenal.
  • It is common to see orchids and hummingbirds along this spectacular stretch of trail along the Urubamba River.
  • Permits for the Inca Trail can sometimes be obtained upon arrival in Cusco.
  • Waterfalls can be seen halfway along the trail.
  • Perfect time to photograph a time lapse of clouds.
  • Witness an incredible rainbow phenomenon.

The bad

  • In February the Inca Trail is closed.
  • Reduced visibility of the surroundings due to cloud movement in the area, especially on day 03.
  • Most of the time, you will walk in the rain.
  • Possible snowfall at the Dead Woman’s Pass.
  • The view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate is constantly obscured by fog.
  • Campsites and trail will be wet.
  • Landslides may occur in January and early March.
  • The railroad from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo may be blocked by landslides and cause delays.

Weather on the Inca Trail month by month

MonthDescription
JanuaryWith a lot of rain but few tourists along the trip.
FebruaryThis is the month with the most rain unlike the other months, this month the Inca Trail is closed by the government for essential maintenance. Machu Picchu remains open so you can get to. Visit it without any problem through our other tours:
MarchThe Inca Trail reopens its doors to all its visitors in March, although we will still have rain until the beginning of April.
MayThese are the best months to visit the Inca Trail and these are also the months when the trail is full of visitors, so we recommend (if you want to visit this trail in these months) to book in advance because the permits may be sold out.
JuneThis is the month that we have the most passengers, it coincides with the Cusco festivities and the sun festival also called Inti Raymi, our city is full of crowds, the weather is dry. June is the best time to do Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
July to OctoberThe dry season continues and Peru’s national holidays begin, which makes tourism increase, once again we recommend booking your tour in advance, the dry conditions are popular among vacationers during May to October.
NovemberThe rainy season begins. However, it is still possible. Visit the Inca Trail as it is just the beginning, the positive thing here is that you will find fewer visitors on your tour and you won’t have to be so eager to buy your permits well in advance.
DecemberIs a wet month with more rain, yet it attracts crowds because of the interest of spending Christmas and New Year in our country, the prices of accommodation and flights increase, despite the weather.

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