What’s the Best Month to Go to Salkantay?
The best times of year to enjoy the Salkantay Trek and get the best weather are April and May or September and October. These months are a little quieter tourism-wise, and the climate is extremely pleasant with little rainfall.
However, many travelers like to plan their trip around other events in Cusco, and June is the best month of the year for this. June is Cusco’s anniversary, and there’s always something going on, including the incredible reenactment of the Inca festival Inti Raymi. Remember that this month is busier in general and booking hotels, restaurants, and trips in advance are a must.
Keep reading to discover the weather each month of the year along the Salkantay route—during the dry and wet season—so you can better plan your trek to Machu Picchu.
Salkantay Rainy Season: What to Expect
In the wet season, the climate along the Salkantay Trek is a little unpredictable, but you should always be prepared for a shower. We recommend that you always carry a lightweight poncho or rain jacket in your backpack during the day. However, you’ll also find there are many days where there’s no rain at all, and the sun is shining bright.
The wettest months along the route are January and February, and many trekking companies don’t operate in February. The Inca Trail is also closed this month due to maintenance and the risk of slipping.
Here’s a description of each month and what to expect during the wet season.
November marks the end of the dry season in Cusco and along the Salkantay Trek. The fields are dry and lacking color—but the rain is about to start and begin the wet season. The later on in the month you travel, the more likely you are to experience rain along the trek. However, the temperature overall is very pleasant, and you’ll feel warm most of the way.
This month is the start of summer throughout the country and is when most national tourists start going on vacation. Temperatures are still warm, but more rain will start to fall. This is a nice time of year to travel as you won’t see too many large crowds—just make sure you take waterproof gear in case.
January is getting wetter, and you’ll see less of the sun this month. You’ll likely witness showers almost daily this time of year. They don’t tend to last long, though, and with help from the strong sun, the ground dries pretty quickly. You’ll still get to enjoy warm spells throughout the day.
This is the wettest month along the Salkantay Trek, and it can cause the ground to get a little slippery. If you travel this month, make sure you take waterproof clothing and hiking boots with excellent grip. The weather is generally warm, though, and once the showers stop, you’ll enjoy being in the sun.
The heavy rainfall continues throughout March, but you’ll also get to enjoy more breaks in the clouds and see the sun pop out more. The Salkantay route is a little drier this month on the ground, so you’ll start to see more visitors on the trail again. Still, make sure you take all the right equipment to keep you dry and safe.
Finally, the rain is coming to an end, and there’s a significant drop in the number of showers. April is still considered as part of the rainy season, but it’s far less wet. You’ll enjoy plenty of sun rays and generally pleasant days on the trail.
Salkantay Dry Season: What to Expect
The dry season is known for some wonderful sunny days and the opportunity to enjoy the most spectacular views of the gorgeous Andean landscapes. However, this also means the arrival of many more visitors to Peru who want to take advantage of the dry weather. You’ll likely see a lot more people on the Salkantay Trek during these months.
As we mentioned earlier, planning is essential when traveling during the dry season as everything gets booked early. Making reservations around three months in advance is usually a good idea to ensure you get spaces on the trek and in the hotels you like. If you wish to hike up Huayna Picchu once inside Machu Picchu, you MUST book well in advance.
Here’s a breakdown of each month during the dry season on the Salkantay route.
Hooray! The dry season has officially begun. You might see showers here and there, but they’ll be short and light. Precipitation, in general, has decreased tenfold, and the climate is lovely during this time of the year. This is a great time to trek Salkantay before the large crowds come.
This is the driest month of the year, and you’ll see little to no rainfall along the route. However, it’s also winter and the temperature at night drops dramatically. It can go below 0°C at the highest points of the route and the Soraypampa campsite. During the day, the climate is still nice and warm. If you travel in June, you need to remember that in Cusco they’ll be celebrating their anniversary and it’s very busy throughout the city and on tours. You’ll likely see larger crowds on the route this month.
July gets even colder at night, so you’ll need to make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag and lots of cozy clothes for your first night in Soraypampa. In the middle of the day, though, the high sun will keep you warm—use high SPF sunscreen for protection. This month, there are patriotic festivities, so the city is still busy, as is the Salkantay Trek. Although July is in the middle of the dry season, you might experience an odd hailstorm.
Winter is drawing to a close, but nighttime temperatures on the high-altitude parts of the Salkantay Trek will still be chilly. The days are getting warmer, and there’s still very little rainfall. August is still busy with tourists, and you can expect some outstanding views with clear skies along the route.
September is a wonderful time of year for weather. It’s getting warmer, and there’s only the odd shower now and again. You’ll feel warm and get to enjoy lots of sunshine and fantastic views. The tourists are still coming, but there aren’t quite so many. This is a great time of year to trek to Machu Picchu.
This is the warmest month of the year on the Salkantay Trek, and we recommend traveling now to make the most of the climate while avoiding large crowds. The skies are mostly blue and clear, but you might experience light showers here and there. This is the last time of the year to get optimal views of Salkantay and Machu Picchu before it begins to get cloudier.
What Is the Average Temperature of Salkantay?
Throughout the year, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much. The average temperatures at the Soraypampa campsite and in the higher altitude sections are around 20°C in the day (70°F), and then close to or below 0°C (32°F) at night.
As you head down to the edge of the jungle, it gets much warmer, and you won’t be so cold at night. On the day, it’ll likely be around 26°C (80°F).
What Is the Coldest Month in Salkantay?
The coldest months throughout the year are June and July, with July being slightly colder. These months are right in the middle of the dry season, which is also winter. This means that at night it gets very cold and often drops below 0°C. On the Salkantay Trek, we strongly recommend you come well-equipped with a warm sleeping bag (-15°C) and plenty of warm layers of clothing. However, the days are still pretty warm despite the chilly nights.
Does the Weather in Salkantay Affect Flights?
You can’t fly to Salkantay—you need to land in Cusco. Sometimes, the rain gets so strong that a flight or two are delayed or even canceled. But this isn’t usually a problem as the airlines will put you on a different flight, or you’ll just have to wait a short while for the shower to pass.
What to Pack When Visiting Salkantay
To find a detailed packing list for the Salkantay Trek, check here. Below we’ve added a brief checklist of what you need to take.
- Clothing - thin layers that you can take off and put on as the temperature changes.
- Raincoat or waterproof poncho.
- A warm jacket and sweater.
- Hand towel.
- Hiking boots or shoes - well worn-in.
- Warm pajamas.
- Sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen factor 50+.
- A warm hat, scarf, and gloves for the cold nights and when you’re up on a mountain on a trek.
- Insect repellent.
- Reusable water bottle.
- Daypack to carry all your things around in.
- High-quality camera or phone with a good camera.
- Personal medication.
- Guide book/map.
- Lock for bags.
- Adaptors for plugs (if needed).
Plan Your Trip Now
Using our ultimate Salkantay Trek weather guide, you should have a better idea of when best to travel or what time of year best suits your preferences—small crowds, no rain, great views, etc.
Most tourists tend to trek the route between May and October—June is the busiest time of year. If you prefer to stay away from the crowds, we recommend either side of the rainy season when it’s a little quieter, but the weather is still nice.
If you decide to come during the wet season, we guarantee you’ll still have an amazing experience; just make sure you’re prepared for the rain.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s time to get excited because you’re going to be hiking along THE BEST ALTERNATIVE ROUTE TO MACHU PICCHU!