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Best Time to Hike

What’s the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu? When should I travel to Cusco? When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?

 

These are just a few of the questions you’re probably asking yourself!

If you’re wondering when is the best time to travel to Peru, you’ve come to the right place! On this page, we give you a primer about what the weather is like in Peru and how that affects hiking in Cusco or visiting other parts of the country. We also cover Wet Season in Peru. The wet season – also referred to as the rainy season in Peru – can have a big impact on the trekking available in the area around Cusco. It’s important to understand how the wet season can affect your trekking plans. Be sure to scroll down to our section on Wet Season Trekking in Peru for everything you need to know come prepared.

Peru’s Climate

In a nutshell

The Best Time to Travel to Peru

Peak travel season is largely dictated by the weather. Peru is located in the southern hemisphere, where winter extends roughly from June through August, and summer runs from December through February. The Andes experiences two distinct seasons: dry season and wet season. Dry season runs approximately from May through September, and wet season from November through March, with April and October considered “shoulder months” which experience a mixed climate as the seasons start to change.

This is essentially opposite to the weather experienced on the coast, including Lima: during the southern summer months, the coast experiences hot temperatures, lots of sun and virtually no precipitation; during the winter, it is cooler, constantly overcast and there are occasional light rain showers.

So, the best time to travel to Peru depends a lot on where you want to go!

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

For most people, the best time to travel to Peru will coincide with the best time to visit Machu Picchu. As the name implies, dry season in the Andes experiences the lowest average rainfalls during the year, and this is what makes it peak tourism season: less rain makes for easier travel in the mountains, both by vehicle and on foot. In Cusco, daytime temperatures during dry season can feel quite warm as the sun is intense, but the nights are extremely cold, frequently dropping below freezing.   

During wet season, the temperatures are considerably warmer at night, but the overcast sky and rain showers can make it feel quite chilly. At this time of year, rain is more frequent and can be quite heavy at times; however, rain showers are usually short in duration. More often that not, you can expect an intense shower in the early afternoon or evening almost every day, but the rest of the day may experience sunny breaks.

Trekking in Wet Season vs Dry Season

Outside the city, temperatures and conditions can vary from those experienced in town. The Sacred Valley is typically warmer than Cusco, since it is located at a lower elevation, but it is often windier as well. Most trekking routes pass through elevations much higher than Cusco, meaning that temperatures are frequently a few degrees colder. During wet season, when it is raining in Cusco or in the Sacred Valley, you can expect snow at the higher elevations!

>>Don’t miss our Wet Season Trekking information below!

 

Wet Season vs Dry Season

When Should I Hike?

If you want to trek in the Andes, there are pros and cons to hiking during both wet and dry seasons. Dry season offers more route options and more comfortable, less risky hiking conditions. However, as it is peak season, tourist traffic is heavy both in town and in the mountains.

>>See below for our specific Wet Season Trekking Booking Policy

 

When considering when is the best time to travel to Peru, wet season hiking can actually be quite enjoyable – especially if you come prepared with really good rain gear! The rains turn the mountains into a brilliant green, giving you a whole different perspective on the Andes. Since it is low season, it can be a great time to more fully experience the remoteness of the routes, and enjoy some high Andean solitude.

The Best Treks to Hike in Wet Season

That said, some routes are impossible to hike during the wet season. This is due to the unpredictability of the weather and the trail conditions. On most routes, you are likely to experience mud, rockfalls, fog, snow, rising rivers and general slipperiness on the trail. The best wet season treks are the Lares Trek and the Inca Trail

Best Time to Travel to Peru – Optimal Trekking Months in Cusco

If you’re thinking of hiking the Inca Trail during wet season, it is important to note that it is closed in February for maintenance. May and September are frequently considered the best months to travel. May and September are just either side of high season, meaning that the city and the trails are not yet likely to be overrun with tourists and hikers. As the seasons are beginning to change, they are also the two months with some of the best weather.

February is another great month. It is the warmest time of the year, and it is also when Carnival is celebrated in the Andes – a crazy time when strangers attack each other in the streets with water balloons, water guns and foam. It is also the best time to visit Machu Picchu. With the Inca Trail closed, the number of daily visitors to the site is seriously reduced, meaning you get much more quality time communing with Inca history and taking in the gorgeous vistas. The mist that often enshrouds the site at this time of year just increases the site’s ethereal appeal!

Being in the middle of low season means that February is also when tourists have peak bargaining power! Some might consider it the best time to travel to Peru as you can often find some great deals on food and accommodation.

Important Information!

Booking a Wet Season Trek

Despite the many advantages that trekking during wet season can bring, it’s important to be clear about the risks involved before making a decision.

Each route is affected by the weather in different ways, but generally the risks include:

  • decreased visibility due to fog;
  • frequent rain causing discomfort and making trails muddy and slippery; and,
  • snow at higher altitudes. 

In addition, for canyon treks such as Choquequirao there is a risk of landslides. High mountain treks like Salkantay risk impassibility due to snow. On all treks, there is a risk that swollen rivers and streams will be too difficult or dangerous to cross.

By booking a wet season trek, you confirm that

  • you and everyone in your group have fully read and understood the implications of wet season trekking, including the discomfort and risks that come with rain, mud, fog, snow and other wet climate conditions.

Cancelling or Changing Your Trek Due to Bad Weather

As the weather is unpredictable, we reserve the right to cancel your trek with little notice or make last-minute route changes if we receive news that weather conditions make completing the trek inadvisable. However, be advised that any such situations could occur even after you depart. Your guide will make decisions about how best to proceed in the event conditions make continuing your trek risky.

If we are forced to cancel your trek at any time due to inclement weather, your booking deposit remains non-refundable. However, we will transfer the value of your deposit, at no additional cost to you, to another, less risky trek such as the Lares Trek or the Inca Trail if permits are available.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

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