When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
The best time to hike the Inca Trail – Many travelers frequently asked this question before deciding on a final date: Peru has 2 seasons – wet and dry – you can hike the Inca Trail all year round except February, that is closed for maintenance.
The wet or rainy season starts from November to April. The average daytime temperature is 18 °C (64 °F), while the night temperature can be around 9 °C (48 °F).
The dry or winter season starts from May to October; the average daytime temperature is 16 °C (61 °F) while nights are much colder, sometimes below 0 °C (32 °F).
Inca Trail Weather
The weather in the Andes is really unpredictable. You can be enjoying a sunny and in a matter can turn into rain. Inca Trail is located in the Cloud Forest, a warm, humid mountainous area that divides the cold Andes with dense Amazon. No matter what season you are traveling, you must always be prepared for all seasons (sun, rain, wind, cold, and even snow at Dead Women’s Pass).
Inca Trail in January
January is the month with more rainy days on average; however, hiking the Inca trail can be a beautiful experience. After Christmas and New Year celebrations, Inca Trail gets few visitors during January every year; this will make your trip memorable as you will be hiking with few people.
Pros: Rains usually happen in the afternoon or for a couple of hours, and then the sun will come out. This is the season of orchids, rainbows, and spectacular pictures with mist and clouds. Least temperature variation between day and night from 19°C (66°F) during day time to 7°C (45°F) during night time.
Cons: Landslides can affect the trail, train delays, and flight delays.
Inca Trail in February
Inca Trail is closed all February for maintenance; this month is the height of the rainy season. Machu Picchu is still open during February, and it is possible to hike alternative trek such as the Lares Trek, Quarry Trek, Huchuy Qosqo Trek. Other tours like Salkantay Trek are available. However, we strongly suggest not going to the Salkantay area during February due to the heavy rains and landslides’ risk.
Inca Trail tours: Closed for maintenance
Salkantay Trek Tours: Not recomended
Choquequirao Tours: Not Recomended
Inca Trail in March
Inca trails reopen this month, and many travelers will hike to Machu Picchu. March is still inside the Rainy Season, but the weather will improve as the rains begin to subside. It is also important to consider that all February Inca Trail has been closed for maintenance, all campsite, trails, bridges, toilets have been repaired and cleaned.
Pros: Clean campsites, toilets, new bridges. Semana Santa or Holy Week takes place in all Peru and Cusco with various celebrations. Temperatures variations stretch between 17˚C/64˚F during day time and 6° C/ 42° F during night time.
Cons: Landslides are still at risk, wet trails, and Campsites.
Inca Trail in April
The rainy season is over, and there are still fewer crowds in Machu Picchu compáring with the high season. During April, trails are not so crowded, and the vegetation is still dense from the rainy season, offering great views. April is considered the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu before entering the winter season.
Pros: Warmers temperatures during the days, longer sun hours, clear sky nights, and the temperatures at night are not very cold. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during day time and 5° C/ 41° F during night time.
Cons: During the holy week in Peru can be crowded, and prices can increase in hotels and other sites. We recommend booking early.
Inca Trail in May
May is the beginning of the dry season and also the high season for tourism in Machu Picchu. This means long lines for the buses in Machu Picchu, and more people on the trail. Despite the crowds, May offers incredible views of the mountains during the treks.
Pros: Sunny days with clear sky nights offering great views during the day and night. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during day time and 3° C/ 37° F during night time.
Cons: Long lines for buses, for Machu Picchu, and you need to book tours and hotels long in advance. Nights become colder.
Inca Trail in June
June is arguably one of the best months to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu. This is the peak of the high season and comes together with the biggest festival in Cusco, ” The Inti Raymi festival.” Rains are scarce this month. However, it would be best to prepare for both rain and sun during hiking the Inca Trail.
Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offering magnificent views during the treks. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during day time and 1° C/ 34° F during night time.
Cons: Crowds approach the maximum allowed per day, and the line to enter sites and buses is usually long. It would be best if you had sunscreen for day hours and good layers for nighttime.
Inca Trail in July
During July, all the attraction in Cusco is overcrowded, and in Machu Picchu, we reach the maximum of people allowed per day. Inca trail is dry, sunny, and offers wonderful views of the landscapes. The weather is very similar to June, with colder nights.
Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offering magnificent views during the treks. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during day time and 0° C/ 32° F during night time.
Cons: Attractions are overcrowded. You need to book hotels and tours long in advance.
Inca Trail in August
August is the end of the high season; however, this is the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere, and most of the trails and Inca sites will still be with lots of visitors. Together with July, this month will bring lots of European and North American travelers.
Pros: Sunny days with clear nights; however, unannounced rains may occur at any time during the Inca Trail. Rains can happen at any time, even in the driest months. In August offers magnificent views during the treks. Temperatures variations stretch between 20˚C/68˚F during day time and 3° C/ 37° F during night time.
Cons: Crowds are still considerable in all tours and Machu Picchu. Most hotels and tours remain the same as in the high season’s peak due to the high demand. Book your tours early.
Inca Trail in September
Although most days remain sunny and clear at the end of the dry season, the chances of rain increase, and you need to wear good rain equipment. During September also the temperatures will increase significantly, becoming warmer during day time and night time.
Pros: Crowds are down in the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, and it is the last month of the year to enjoy the treks before entering the wet season. The temperatures you’ll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
Cons: Rains can happen at any time during the day and night, and you must always be prepared with good rain gear.
Inca Trail in October
The beginning of the wet season; however, you will still enjoy sunny days with fewer visitors in October, making this month a perfect time of the year to visit and enjoy in solitude Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. October is considered the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu before the rainy season.
Pros: Good month to hike the Inca Trail before the rains, fewer visitors in the Inca Trail. The temperatures you’ll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
Cons: Rains usually take place in the afternoon, you need to wear always good rain gear.
Inca Trail in November
Hiking the Inca Trail in November can be wet and muddy as is officially the wet season; however, rains are not all day long, and there can be weeks with no rain at all. Also, there is an increase in the weather from highs as 22° C/71° F and lows around 7° C/44° F. Travelers will be able to enjoy the green landscapes of the thriving flora.
Pros: Fewer visitors and spectacular views of the mountains, the temperature is warmer, especially at night with a significant variation comparing months like June or July.
Cons: Hiking the Inca Trail can be with rain, which means wet and muddy trails and campsites.
Inca Trail in December
December started with fewer visitors at the beginning of the month and finish with very crowded at the end of the year due to the holidays. Inca Trail offers great views as the vegetation is flourishing: the mist, rains, clouds, and rainbows give a mysterious touch to this iconic trek.
Pros: Great views from the flourishing landscapes, warm weather from 22° C/71° F and lows around 6° C/42° F.
Cons: Campsite and trails can be muddy and wet, the chances of landslides increases as we enter into the heavy rainy season.