Machu Picchu is a breathtaking archaeological wonder located in the southern Andes region of Peru. It is situated precisely within the Urubamba province, which is part of the Cusco department. This iconic Inca city is gracefully perched on a mountain ridge, boasting an impressive elevation of approximately 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level.
Machu Picchu’s geographical setting immerses it in a captivating environment, surrounded by towering peaks and lush vegetation. This unique location establishes it as one of the world’s most prominent and frequently visited archaeological marvels, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. In this article, I will show you everything you need to know about the climate in Machu Picchu. I will also provide a detailed explanation of the general climate in the Inca Citadel, including the two seasons we have here. Additionally, I will describe the months and their accompanying weather conditions, along with their packing lists. Last but not least, I will offer some recommendations to enhance this journey
The Average Weather in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu boasts a high-altitude subtropical mountain climate, characterized by cool temperatures year-round. Here’s a detailed overview of Machu Picchu’s climate:
Daytime temperatures typically range from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F) for most of the year.
Nights can be cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 10°C (50°F) or even lower, especially during the dry season.
Rainy Season (November to March): Machu Picchu receives its highest rainfall during these months, with frequent rain showers and high humidity.
Dry Season (April to October): During this period, rainfall significantly decreases, making it the most popular time to visit Machu Picchu due to the drier and more stable weather.
Machu Picchu is situated at an altitude of approximately 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level. This attitude can influence the perceived temperature and acclimatization, especially for those traveling from lower elevations
Due to its proximity to the equator, seasonal variation in Machu Picchu is not as pronounced as in other locations, but there are still differences in temperatures and precipitation between the dry and rainy seasons.
Machu Picchu weather
Weather Seasons in Machu Picchu
The rainy season in Machu Picchu
During the rainy season, the weather can be a little unpredictable. You should always expect rain, so have a lightweight poncho or raincoat with you, but you’ll also find many days are still nice and sunny. The months with the most likelihood of showers are January to March, which are also the quietest months for tourism.
This might appeal to you if you prefer fewer people when you visit Machu Picchu, but this can also make it misty and difficult to see the site in its entirety. Below is a brief description of the weather month by month in the wet season.
Machu Picchu Rainy Season
Machu Picchu in November
You’ll find at the beginning of this month, the grass at Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas isn’t as lush as it’s been dry for many months, however, it does also start to rain a bit in November, so this month is a bit hit and miss. The temperature is relatively warm with a low of 13°C at night and a high of 26°C during the day. The average rainfall in November is 86 mm.
Machu Picchu in December
This is the start of summer in Machu Picchu and the rest of the southern hemisphere, so temps, on average, are warm again being similar to November with a low of 13°C at night and a high of 26°C in the day. However, it also marks the beginning of more heavy rainfall, despite being summer. It’s still manageable in December, though, and you just need to make sure you have rainproof gear. The average rainfall is 121 mm.
Machu Picchu in January
You’ll find the atmosphere at Machu Picchu becomes mistier in January due to heavy rainfall. There are also warmer periods when there are breaks in the clouds and the sun shines through. The rainfall average is 138 mm and the temperature ranges between 12.8°C and 23.9°C.
Machu Picchu in February
We’re still getting wetter and you’ll find that many treks don’t operate this month. The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance and because it’s too slippery and dangerous to walk. If you do visit Machu Picchu this month, you can expect it to be cloudy and mild temperature-wise ranging from 12.8°C to 24.9°C. However, you still need to be careful when the sun does make an appearance as you’re at a high altitude and can burn easily. The rainfall average in February is 141 mm.
Machu Picchu in March
In March we see the heaviest rainfall of the whole year with the average being 151 mm. Routes are all open again, but you need to make sure you have the right gear with good traction hiking boots and waterproof clothing. The climate is still nice and warm, though, with a low of 13°C and highs of 25°C. This is a good month to come to avoid big crowds.
Machu Picchu in April
Rainfall drops significantly this month with the average plummeting to 62 mm. You may see a little more at the beginning of April, which is why we still consider it the wet season, but overall you’ll see the sun more and the view of Machu Picchu should generally be clear. You’ll start to see more tourists this month with pleasant temperatures of between 12°C and 25°C
The advantages of the rainy season
Lush Scenery: The increased rainfall transforms the landscape into a lush and vibrant paradise, with the vegetation coming to life in a riot of green.
Fewer Crowds: This period is less busy with tourists compared to the dry season, offering a quieter and more serene experience at the archaeological site.
Lower Cost: Accommodation and tour prices are often more affordable during the rainy season, making it an economical choice for travelers.
Mild Temperatures: Despite the rain, temperatures remain comfortable, providing a pleasant climate for exploring the historic ruins.
Cultural Experiences: The rainy season coincides with various local festivals and celebrations, allowing visitors to engage with Peruvian culture and traditions.
While the rainy season presents these advantages, it’s important to be prepared for wet conditions, muddy trails, and the potential for trail closures. Packing appropriate rain gear and maintaining a flexible itinerary can help ensure a rewarding experience during this time
The disadvantages of the Rainy Season
Heavy Rainfall: The most prominent drawback is the frequent and intense rain. It often leads to slippery and muddy conditions on hiking trails and within the archaeological site itself, making exploration less comfortable and more challenging.
Risk of Landslides
The heavy rain significantly heightens the risk of landslides, particularly in the region surrounding Machu Picchu. This can occasionally necessitate trail closures for safety reasons.
The rain and cloud cover can limit the visibility of the iconic vistas of Machu Picchu, especially from key viewpoints such as the Sun Gate and the Inca Bridge.
The rainy season may result in transportation disruptions, including train and bus delays, which can impact travel plans to and from Machu Picchu.
Insect and Disease Concerns
The wet season can bring an increased presence of insects and a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the region, necessitating precautions like insect repellent.
While the rainy season offers its own unique charm and benefits, as mentioned earlier, it’s essential for travelers to weigh these disadvantages and plan accordingly, taking into account the potential for wet conditions and associated inconveniences when choosing to visit during this time.
What to wear for the rainy season
Waterproof Clothing: In this season, it’s essential to wear waterproof clothing, such as a waterproof jacket and pants, to stay dry in the rain.
Waterproof Hiking Boots: Use waterproof hiking boots or water-resistant footwear to walk on muddy trails.
Waterproof Backpack: Protect your belongings, including cameras and electronic devices, in a waterproof backpack.
Extra Layer: Since it can be cooler in this season, bring an extra layer of clothing to stay warm.
Poncho or Umbrella: A portable poncho or umbrella can also be useful to shield yourself from the rain.
In addition to these considerations, it’s always advisable to carry water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.
The Dry Season in Machu Picchu
During the drier months, you can expect to see the sun most days and are almost guaranteed a great view of the mystical Machu Picchu. This also means, however, that there are much bigger crowds and you’ll find more hotels and restaurants are booked up.
If you want to hike Huayna Picchu during these months, you really need to book at least 3 months in advance as the spaces sell out very quickly. Now, let’s look at the dry season month by month.
Machu Picchu in May
We’re starting to get into the dry season properly now, and you’ll see little to no rain. The average is a lot less than the previous month with just 23 mm of rainfall. The temperature is warm as well at 12°C at night or 25°C during the day. This is a great time of year to come before the high season kicks in and a nice time to hike the extra mountains.
Machu Picchu in June
This is the driest month of the entire year with just 17 mm on average of rainfall. This also marks the start of the busiest time of the year as it’s the anniversary of Cusco amongst other celebrations. Expect big crowds at Machu Picchu with an average temp of between 11°C and 25°C. You’ll notice this month starts to get a little chilly in the evenings.
Machu Picchu in July
This is another very busy month with patriotic festivities celebrating Peruvian independence. Average rainfall starts to go up again a little at 22 mm. Temperatures get colder at night at 9°C but stay warm in the day at 25°C. Rain isn’t common in these months but there is the occasional hailstorm. You need to take extra care of the sun in these months as there are no clouds and you’re at a high altitude. Sunblock, hat, and sunglasses are a must.
Machu Picchu in August
We’re still in winter in August, so it’s still pretty cold at night at 10°C but warm in the day with a nice 25°C being the average. Rainfall is also still low at 24 mm, so this makes it another very popular month to visit Machu Picchu. This is a great month to get the perfect postcard shot of the site with Huayna Picchu behind due to clear skies and low precipitation.
Machu Picchu in September
This is the mildest month of the year with the temperature being between 11°C and 26°C. Most days are clear and sunny and i’s still a busy time of year, but you’ll also see the rain start creeping in with 44 mm of rainfall. That’s still not a lot, though, so this is a nice time of year to come when crowds start to die down slightly.
Machu Picchu in October
This is the last of the dry months, and you’ll see rain starts to fall more with an average of 75 mm of precipitation. However, days are still mostly clear and this is an excellent month to get great views and avoid the large crowds. The temperature is nice ranging from 12°C to 15 °C. This is your last chance of the year to get one of the better views of the archaeological site.
The advantages of the dry season in Machu Picchu
Stable Weather: During the dry season, Machu Picchu enjoys consistently stable and sunny weather, creating the perfect conditions for outdoor exploration and hiking.
Crystal Clear Views: With minimal rainfall and cloud cover, visitors can revel in unobstructed, breathtaking views of Machu Picchu and its majestic surroundings, including iconic viewpoints like the Sun Gate.
Trail Accessibility: Hiking trails, including the renowned Inca Trail, are generally in better condition, with reduced mud and improved accessibility, ensuring a smoother and safer hiking experience.
Comfortable Temperatures: Daytime temperatures are delightfully mild, typically ranging from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F), providing a pleasant environment for exploring the site.
Reduced Inscet Activity: The drier conditions lead to decreased insect activity, contributing to a more comfortable experience and a lower risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
Ideal Photography Conditions: The dry season offers optimal lighting conditions with clear skies, making it a photographer’s paradise and allowing visitors to capture Machu Picchu’s beauty at its finest.
Cultural Festivals: This period coincides with various local festivals and cultural events, giving travelers the chance to immerse themselves in Peruvian traditions and vibrant celebrations.
The dry season is the favored time for most visitors to discover the wonder of Machu Picchu due to its favorable weather and improved trail conditions. However, it’s worth noting that this period is also the busiest, so advance planning and reservations are highly recommended to secure accommodations and permits, especially for sought-after treks like the Inca Trail.
The disadvantages of the dry season in Machu Picchu
Crowded Conditions: The dry season is the most popular time to visit Machu Picchu, leading to larger crowds and busier trails. This can diminish the sense of tranquility and solitude some travelers seek.
Higher Cost: Increased demand during the dry season often results in higher prices for accommodations, tours, and other services. Budget-conscious travelers may find this period more expensive.
Limited Availability: Due to high demand, obtaining permits for popular treks, such as the Inca Trail, can be challenging, and accommodations within or near Machu Picchu may be booked quickly.
Altered Landscape: The lush, green landscape of Machu Picchu that blooms during the rainy season can transform into a drier and browner environment during the dry season, which might not be as visually striking for some visitors.
Greater Sun Exposure: The dry season’s sunny and clear weather also means increased sun exposure. Visitors need to be vigilant with sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
It’s important to weigh these disadvantages against the benefits of the dry season when planning your visit to Machu Picchu. For those who prioritize lower crowds and ideal hiking conditions, the dry season remains the preferred choice, despite these drawbacks.
What to wear for the dry season in Machu Picchu.
Light Clothing: Due to warmer temperatures, opt for lightweight and breathable clothing, such as short-sleeve shirts, shorts, or lightweight pants.
Comfortable Footwear: Choose comfortable and sturdy footwear for hiking, like hiking shoes or trekking boots. Ensure they are well-worn and comfortable.
Sun Protection: Since there is increased sun exposure, don’t forget to apply sunscreen, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and use sunglasses to shield yourself from UV rays.
Light Backpack: Carry a lightweight backpack to transport water, snacks, and other essentials for your excursion.
Preparation for Unexpected Rain: Despite the dry season, it’s advisable to carry a light raincoat or waterproof layer in case of unexpected rain.
In addition to these considerations, it’s always advisable to carry water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.
Recomendations for Machu Picchu Weather
The experience of visiting Machu Picchu, the legendary Inca city, is a dream for many travelers. However, one of the crucial factors influencing the quality of this experience is the weather, as it can be unpredictable and significantly vary depending on the season. Therefore, taking some recommendations into account will help you enjoy this adventure better.
The best season to visit Machu Picchu.
The dry season (from April to October) is the most popular due to favorable weather conditions. However, if you prefer to avoid crowds, enjoy green landscapes, and take advantage of lower costs, the rainy season (from November to March) may be worth considering. Whatever season you choose, be sure to prepare adequately for the weather and check the weather forecast before your trip.
The best month to visit Machu Picchu.
The “best” month really depends on your priorities. If you’re looking for a balance between good weather conditions and fewer crowds, May and September are usually ideal months. June to August is excellent for the weather but be mindful of the crowds. If you’re seeking a quieter and greener experience, consider the rainy season from November to March. Regardless of the month you choose, make sure to plan and prepare adequately to make the most of it.
The warmest month to visit Machu Picchu.
The warmest month in Machu Picchu is generally August. During this month, daytime temperatures can range from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F), providing very pleasant conditions for visiting the archaeological site. Keep in mind that, due to Machu Picchu’s altitude, nights can still be cool, with temperatures dropping to around 10°C (50°F) or lower, so it’s advisable to bring an extra layer of clothing for the evenings.
The coldest month to visit Machu Picchu.
The coldest month in Machu Picchu is usually June. During this month, daytime temperatures can range from 15°C (59°F) to 20°C (68°F), while nights tend to be colder, with temperatures dropping to around 5°C (41°F) or even lower. It’s important to be prepared for the lower temperatures, especially during the nights if you plan to visit Machu Picchu in June. Wearing warm clothing and an additional layer is advisable to stay comfortable.
With the weather as our ally and advisor on this journey, we can fully enjoy this adventure. However, it’s important to mention that whatever decision you make, you won’t regret it because visiting Machu Picchu on any day of the year is one of the most incredible experiences in the world.
Machu Picchu trek
Time to Plan Your Visit
Now you know the Machu Picchu weather to visit and when it’s likely to be wet or dry, all that’s left to do is book your trip. Remember to think about whether getting wet will bother you and if you like big crowds or not.
Also, please make use of our packing list to make sure you have everything you need for your visit to the New Seven Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu. Enjoy your trip!
So book your tickets, pack your backpack, and see you soon!