What is the best time to Visit Machu Picchu Peru?
Peru's Machu Picchu is renowned as one of the most popular and most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. With the amount of annual visitors making their way to the site, it's no wonder numbers are closely monitored and limited to 2500 per day.
Machu Picchu, which the Incas called "old mountain" or "old peak" has been a place of mystery and intrigue for archaeologists and explorers alike for hundreds of years. It can be found on many intrepid travellers' bucket lists, and is one of a few favorite stops in Peru on our Jaguar trip that offer the extra "wow" factor!
In contrast to the steamy humid rainforests that much of South America is known for, Machu Picchu's impressive altitude at almost 2445 meters (8000 feet) above sea level, means its climate is alot more temperate, and is shrouded year-round in mist for much of each morning. The lush green tops of the surrounding peaks frame the iconic ruins at their feet, leaves you with a sense that you could be hovering in a mystical realm, separated by cloud from the earth below.
1 day Machu Picchu Hike
You can trek from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu all year round. The actual trek up to Machu Picchu from Aquas Calientes takes about 1 hour 30 minutes up, and slightly less coming down. The hikes ascends about 390 meters (1,280 feet) up on a dirt track, stone pathways or shuttle bus routes.
Multi-day Hikes To Machu Picchu
You also choose arrive at Machu Picchu via one of the many networks of trails that criss cross the andes ranges around Machu Picchu itself. The two most popular of these trails are the Inca Trail and the Lares Trail. Depending on which option you choose, a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu (usually 4 or 5 days or as part of an 11 day Peru experience) will take you on an incredible journey through authentic Peruvian villages, ancient agricultural terraces, Incan ruins, a cycle ride through Andean wilderness, and even an optional kayaking adventure to the floating reed island communities which have a unique feel all of their own.
No matter what journey you decide to take to Machu Picchu, whether a life changing week long adventure, or a one day hike up from Aquas Clientes, it does require a little planning and consideration to get the very best from your visit.
So what is the best time to go to Machu Picchu?
There are several things to consider including weather, seasons, opening times, when transport is available and even how busy the region may be due to school holidays and festivities on.
Below you'll find a selection of information including:
- Best Time To Trek
- Seasons & Weather In Machu Picchu
- November to April or July to August
- Best Times Of The Day To Visit Machu Picchu
- Machu Picchu Ticket Availability
- Peru Trips 11 to 14 Days
- Peru Rail Timetable
Best Time to Trek
During the wet season there is a higher likelihood of heavy rainfall. The trail and ladders may become slippery and more challenging to traverse. The region has a sub-tropical feel throughout the year with average daily temperatures of 18 °C (64 °F). During the dry season the humidity is around 40 – 45%, rising to 60 – 65% during the wet season. Early morning trekking offers cooler temperatures and better shade from the sun.
Seasons & Weather In Machu Picchu
There are generally just two recognised seasons in Peru, the dry and wet seasons. Temperatures vary little each side of 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 27 degrees Celcius) year round on average, but temperatures in the higher parts of the central Andean ranges, (like you'll encounter on the Inca Trail and at Machu Picchu), can drop below this.
Most mornings you'll encounter mist year round which clears in the after noon. This is an opportune time to climb Huayna Picchu, the peak directly behind Machu Picchu citadel. There are two sessions, or two groups allowed up to Huayna Picchu per day, and if you climb it during the morning, you usually ascend through mist and pop out above the cloud for a magnificent view of Machu Picchu and of the Urubamba Valley below.
November to April - Wet Season
Because November to April is considered to be the rainy season, many people choose to visit Machu Picchu either side of this period. During the rainy season, trails can be muddy, and a little more treacherous along the stunning but precarious steep mountain trails. On the upside, areas inundated by fellow tourists will be less crowded, so jostling for that perfect camera shot, or a resting spot atop some amazing vista, for a view of the valley below and it won't feel like a competition for a seat on the London Tube or New York subway. You'll also be able to enjoy more magical misty mornings which amplify the mystique of the place.
July to August - Dry Season
This season brings cool nights and dry days, so it makes sense that this is the most popular time people choose to visit Peru and Machu Picchu. You'll be in for lots of glorious sunny days, with the odd rain shower here and there just to make things interesting.
Best Times Of Day To Visit Machu Picchu
You can visit Machu Picchu between its opening time at 6:00 a.m and its closing time at 5:00 p.m daily. If you want to take on a more daring and slightly longer Huayna Picchu trek (the view of Urubamba Valley makes climbing the steeper sections totally worth it), then you can also opt for the Huayna peak morning or afternoon sessions.
You can see the available day ticket options for both below.
Machu Picchu Ticket Availability
Prices range from $37 to $62 USD (children to adults and non locals)
The Peruvian Government limit the access to the areas in Machu Picchu:
- Machu Picchu Site Ticket 2500 spaces per day. Children 8 to 18 yrs and students $37. Adults $62 (non Andean residents)
- Tickets for Machu Picchu Plus Huayna Picchu first group. First group (07:00 to 08:00 a.m.) 200 spaces per day. Children 8 to 18 yrs and students $42. Adults $71 (non Andean residents)
- Tickets for Machu Picchu Plus Huayna Picchu second group. Second group (10:00 to 11:00 a.m.) 200 spaces per day. Children 8 to 18 yrs and students $42. Adults $71 (non Andean residents)
- Tickets for Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain 400 spaces per day. Children 8 to 18 yrs and students $40. Adults $67 (non Andean residents)
- Site and trails closed for clean up during February.
- Machu Picchu Ticket sales here: http://ticketmachupicchu.com
- See trip dates for Peru packages here
School Holiday Trip Times For Machu Picchu
Another consideration many people forget about is the number of school and family trips taken during holidays.
- Thanksgiving Holiday - End of November (Thanksgiving & Day after, and usually Wednesday)
- 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 Labor day in early September
- Major federal and state holidays - religious holidays also need to be considered
- Snow Days - usually a few days in places where it snows in winter
Many school and family trips to Machu Picchu are booked in advance, so if you are traveling during these periods, it pays to allow for this.
If you are thinking of organising a Machu Picchu trip yourself, it is a good idea to book well in advance, say at least a couple of months out if you want to go during the busy season. Due to the sheer number of different historical and cultural places on offer in Peru, unless you are traveling with a local guide, or someone who knows all of the local legends and off the beaten track hidden treasures, it's well worth doing your homework before setting off for Peru.
If you'd like to learn more about the type of itinerary you could expect from a Peru adventure, you can read more about our Peru trips and where we go here.
There are untold sites to explore, legends to be heard, and a cultural immersion that you can only really find if you travel with the right people to guide you. You could buy a dog eared, note filled, travel worn copy of a Lonely Planet Peru guidebook off EBay. Or alternatively, you could travel with a guide who knows the special places to see, local dishes to sample, and ensures you bypass all of the stressful parts of making your way around a country with locals who, when you need to negotiate your way around some of the most interesting divergent parts of the region, may understand English only as a second or third language. You may like to learn some of the local uniquely Peruvian lingo, like the word for beer (no it's not Cervesa), dotted around local restaurant signboards.
Peru Trips 11 to 14 Days
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If you do want to go it alone, and navigate the sometimes colorful gauntlet of organising your own trip, then here are some useful resources for you:
Peru Rail Timetable
Peru rail runs services regularly during the day. Generally trains run two to three hours apart. Remember that Machu Picchu itself opens from 6am and closes at 5pm. so you'll need to allow ample time either side of the opening and closing hours to arrive and depart. You can book online and order snacks or buffet service with your tickets.
For the actual Peru Rail schedule, check out their timetable here:
Best Trip Ever!!!
Kathleen Bowser – Ontario, Canada, Jaguar, November 2016
Dates For 2015/2017 South America Trips
You can also take a look at some of the popular guided trips you can book here: