Updated: Aug 10
No feeling can compare to how I felt when I stood at the sun gate and saw Machu Picchu for the first time.
The ancient Incan city seemed to ‘hang’ in mid-air, suspended on a thin strip of land and surrounded by mountain peaks.
Wow. I had read about it and seen photos of it – but seeing it with my own eyes was something I’ll remember forever.
We are often asked – when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
And the answer does depend on several things.
Weather, opening times, seasons, and local festivals play a part. Machu Picchu is located on the edge of a rainforest, so it enjoys a subtropical feel year-round, and daily temperatures hover at around 18 degrees C (64F).
Visiting Machu Picchu in June, July, and August
Warm days, cool nights, and the lowest rainfall of the whole year: the winter months are known as the ‘dry season, and you’ve got a very high chance of encountering a sunny day.
Remember that June, July, and August also coincide with North American and European summer holidays, so don’t expect to have the ruins to yourself. I
If you choose to visit Machu Picchu at this time, a great tip is to get up early and arrive at 6 am! Yes, the ruins are open from 6 am to 5 pm. In my book, it’s worth the early morning alarm.
This photo was taken in early June; the cloud cleared to reveal a perfect blue-sky day.
Visiting Machu Picchu in September, October, and November
This is shoulder season, and visitors can expect pleasant, enjoyable temperatures.
It’s also orchid season from about mid-October, which is a bonus!
These delicate flowers poke out from between the huge stone blocks and add a magical element to the ruins.
This time of year also sees far fewer people than high season. The downside is you have a higher chance of encountering rain or fog. I don’t mind the mist; it makes the ruins feel mysterious!
NOTE: From November, rain is an almost daily occurrence.
Visiting Machu Picchu in December, January, and February
This time of year sees the worst of the rainy weather.
Expect anything from drizzle to massive downpours almost daily. Again, crowds are far fewer; you’re likely to have large areas of the ruins all to yourself depending on the time of day you arrive. Orchids are at their most colorful best.
NOTE: The Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance, but Machu Picchu itself is open year-round.
Make sure to think about the flora when scheduling your trip. At certain times of the year, the flowers and orchids are stunning.
Visiting Machu Picchu in March, April, and May
March, again, is rather wet, but April and May are great options to visit – a balance between a pleasant climate and warm to cool temperatures.
Slightly more chance of rain or drizzle than in the winter months, but it’s not high season, so there still won’t be as many people to compete with.
NOTE: Spring Break is a popular time for students to visit South America. Remember, usually takes place for a week in late March or early April.
Co-founder at Across South America
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