Quick Summary in 3 Sentences
It is best to avoid the wet season from December through until the end of March. Low lying clouds and rain during the wet season can affect visibility at Machu Picchu. May – September & December is considered to be peak season at Machu Picchu, often reaching maximum capacity for entrance tickets.
The Dry Season (April – September)
From mid-April through until the end of September is considered the dry season at Machu Picchu. Days are bright and sunny with daily average temperatures of 18 °C (64 °F), after sunset (around 6.15pm) temperatures drop down to around 10 – 12 °C (50 – 54 °F) and evenings are cooler. Humidity is also at its lowest during the dry season, remaining stable at 45 – 55%. Any month during the dry season is considered a good time to travel.
For early morning visitors to Machu Picchu low level cloud is often prevalent until 9am. This may affect visibility and views if visiting the view point of Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Montana or the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). Low level broken clouds can also add to the mystical effect of visiting Machu Picchu.
The Rainy Season (November – April)
From mid-November until the end of April is considered to be the wet season, with the peak rainfall occurring during January and February. Although it may not rain every day or for even for a few days at a time, there is a significant chance that you will encounter wet weather. Be prepared with appropriate clothing and even an umbrella. Daily temperatures average 18 °C (64 °F), but unlike the dry season, night time temperatures are just a few degrees lower. Humidity ranges from 60 – 65% during these months.
Disruptions Caused by the Rain
Although most Peru travel agents might not like to admit it, to one extent or another, rain often causes disruptions to travel to Machu Picchu. This is particularly relevant during the months of January and February when the rainfall is at its heaviest. There are two main areas where problems frequently occur: 1) on the trains to Machu Picchu, 2) domestic flights in and out of Cusco (see below for more information).
Trains & Land Slides
After constant and often torrential rainfall in December and January, much of the terrain around the area of Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley becomes more unstable and susceptible to landslides. As the rain continues into February, it is not uncommon to hear of landslides blocking the train route from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu. Although often dealt with swiftly, landslides can cause delays or disruptions of a few hours, or on some occasions days at a time. If Machu Picchu is your main reason for travelling to Peru, ensure that you have a few days leeway just in case it is needed.
Flight Cancellations from Cusco
During the wet season in Cusco mornings are typically clear and sunny, with stormy wet weather closing in by mid to late afternoon. For this reason there is an increased risk of flight delays and even cancellations for afternoon flights. LAN and TACA operate superior on-board navigation equipment which allows them to take off and land during adverse weather conditions, but from our 7 years of Peru travel planning experience, this is not often the case. Morning flights are recommended with Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines.
Avoiding the Crowds
As one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions, you can be assured that Machu Picchu will be busy throughout the year. May – September plus the month of December receive the most visitors, with June (around Inti Raymi) being the most crowded. A few times a year, when peak tourism months and Peruvian National holidays coincide the 2,500 daily ticket limit can be reached. Visit during the months of October – November and January – May for the least amount of crowds. Visiting Machu Picchu after 4pm in the afternoon is also a good way to avoid crowds (any time of the year).
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