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When is the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu? A Comprehensive Guide

April 9, 2015 8 min read

If you’re visiting Machu Picchu soon, you may be wondering when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu, and honestly, it’s great any time of the the year. Of course, there are a few months I recommend more than others, but it depends on what your preferences are. Before I get into the best months, however, here is a bit of my journey to when I visited Machu Picchu and why exactly I went the month I did. 

Having a Peruvian family, I grew up visiting Peru every month. While I learned a lot from my time in Lima, I didn’t travel to other places in Peru unless you count my trip to Huacho. Aside from that though, I had never been to Cusco, I had never been to Machu Picchu. That all changed though, when my cousins and I decided to make a three-day trip to Machu Picchu. 

We decided to go around July, which is the dry season in Machu Picchu, but also it is one of the winter months in Peru. While I knew it would probably be crowded, we went anyway. 

In this post, you will find a comprehensive guide to Machu Picchu – The best time to visit Machu Picchu, tours to go on, what to eat, and everything you need to know to make it a successful trip. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu would be during its winter months, May-Septemer. While this is the time tourists go to Machu Picchu, it is the best time to go because it is not only winter but also the dry months. When I went, I went around July and spent hours exploring the different museums, shops, and other tourist places in Cusco, and I also got to spend time in Machu Picchu.

You could also go during the summer months, December to April, but this is known as the wet season as there are showers in Machu Picchu that could ruin your visit. However, I would recommend April or May. April is when you finally start seeing the nice weather and there are fewer crowds as many tourists are not on vacation yet and the kids are still in school. May is also a good month to go because you not only have good weather but again, there are fewer tourists.

You may decide to go in October-November, which are both fine months to go, but because of the change in weather, you may get a mix of rain and no rain.

Wet and Dry Season

When I first learned about the wet and dry seasons in Cusco, I was surprised because in Lima, it hardly ever rains! It is rare to see rain in Lima, and when you do, it drizzles. It doesn’t compare to the rain showers you get in the United States.

A Comprehensive Guide to Machu Picchu

As previously mentioned, in this post I will be sharing food to try, tours to take, and so forth. This post will not go into detail about Cusco and all the other things I did in the city as the focus is on Machu Picchu and the journey there. However, there is so much to share as I spent a whole day in Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Tours

There are plenty of tours you can take during your time in Cusco. Some will offer a complete package of things to do around Cusco as well as take you to Machu Picchu, and others will offer trekking to Machu Picchu.

My cousins and I went with one that would allow us to take the bus up to Machu Picchu as the trek is usually harder and I am also not the trekking type. My cousins having lived in Peru their entire lives, did all the negotiating and research on the best tour operator, which led us to Expediciones Waynapicchu. If you’re looking for one local to Peru, this is the one. However, if you need one that is well-known in the U.S., I would suggest G-Adventures.

Fun Fact

I worked in the travel industry for a few years and actually got to meet the founder of G-Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip at one of the conferences I was attending. After reading his book Looptail, I was even more impressed with G-Adventures.

20150409_111258_Richtone(HDR)

The tour operator we went with had a few packages, but the one we decided to go with gave us access to their tourist bus, professional guide, admission to different tourist sites, and a whole day in Machu Picchu.

In one day, I went to Museo de Arte Popular, Museo de Sitio del Qoricancha, Saqsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo. By the end of the day, I could hardly feel my legs. The next day, however, I was only making one trip and that was to Machu Picchu.

In the train to Aguas Calientes.

Getting to Machu Picchu

When you use a tour operator, they have everything planned for you. From the bus to the train, everything is ready for your trip to Machu Picchu. When My cousins and I went, we had to wake up early to meet the transfer bus. This bus then took us to the Poroy train station.

Trains

There are three train stations in Cusco. You can also take the train from Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu.

Statue of Pachacuti in Aguas Calientes.

Once we arrived at the train station, my cousins and I had to go on different train cars. Since my cousins are citizens of Peru and have their documents, they paid a lot less than a tourist usually pays. Since I did not have Peruvian documents, I had to pay for a more expensive ticket and had to go in the tourist train car. I didn’t think it was fair that we got separated, especially since we are family and I would have thought they would have kept family together, but after hearing what their train ride was like, I was glad that I had the chance to ride the tourist portion of the train.

Train to Machu Picchu

Unlike the tourist portion of the train, the locals sit in uncomfortable chairs and they also do not get a good selection of food. Meanwhile, I spent 4-5 hours in the tourist section of the train with a good choice of food and drinks. It also had bathrooms, comfortable seats, and an amazing view of the Andes mountains and the lush, green landscapes. This section is a lot like being in first class on a plane.

After the train arrived in Aguas Calientes, a small town located at the base of Machu Picchu, we went to the Inca Citadel, before taking a 25-minute bus up to Machu Picchu. The ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu was scary, especially since the narrow roads are composed of dirt and rocks, and the bus had to be careful of incoming buses from the opposite side. Although I didn’t have a chance to record this ride, many before me have.

Below is a video from Youtube showing you how dangerous this road can be. It may not look like much, but just remember narrow roads, going up, incoming bus and a cliff side.

After what seemed like an eternity of holding onto my seat, hoping to survive, we arrived at our destination. One misconception I had about Machu Picchu was that once I got off the bus, I would be at the top, but I was wrong. We were at the entrance and would have to hike up. Thankfully the weather wasn’t rainy, it was a sunny cool day, which made my hike easy.

The climb up to the top wasn’t as tough, but on a few occasions, I was still out of breath. In my mind I kept thinking, when will I get there? I struggled to get my breath back, but I would continue following the group of people in hopes of making it to the top.

Panorama of Machu Picchu

When I finally got to Machu Picchu, I was speechless. It was an amazing experience, that I never thought I would ever go through. Not only was I enjoying the beauty of Machu Picchu, but I was also standing where the Incas once stood before.

As a young girl, I didn’t know much about Peru except for the things my grandparents taught me. Now as a young adult, I had finally learned what it was to be Peruvian and how amazing Peruvian history is.

My journey to Cusco was not only an amazing adventure, but it taught me about my Peruvian roots and how proud I should be to be Peruvian.

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Trek

While I didn’t trek to Machu Picchu, I did have a small hike to the top from the entrance of Machu Picchu. However, the trek is different. We are talking about trekking the Inca Trail or an alternative. Either one will require time, a good fitness level, and a lot of willpower as many of these treks are demanding.

The Inca Trail Trek is one of the most popular treks and requires an advanced booking to be able to trek this one. Some of the alternatives are quite wonderful from stories and photos I’ve seen, but definitely make sure this is something you know you will be able to do. Treks are also a few days long. I have yet to hear from anyone who did a trek in a day, so be prepared for 3-6 days of trekking depending on what you selected when booking.

Machu Picchu Food

You will not find food inside Machu Picchu, but outside of Machu Picchu you will find all sorts of vendors. After our adventure, we decided to buy a popular street food in the area – Choclo con queso (corn with cheese). When you get back into Cusco, there are plenty of restaurants as well, where you can find anticuchos, ceviche, papa a la huancaina, and more.

Tips for Planning Your Machu Picchu Visit

I’ve traveled to so many different countries, but when I went to Cusco, I was not prepared for the altitude. I had been told about the altitude, but I wasn’t aware that the altitude could cause altitude sickness, so I ventured into Cusco ready to conquer the world.

While I luckily did not get altitude sickness, one of my cousins did get sick. She felt nauseous and dizzy. So we stuck around in the place we were staying at drinking Coca Tea and acclimating to the altitude.

So here is my first tip. When you arrive, take it easy! No matter how great you feel upon arrival, take it slow and acclimate to the altitude. It is also recommended to either drink Coca tea or eat Coca candy, which helps with the altitude.

You should also drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated is important, especially when visiting Machu Picchu. There are plenty of things you should know before going to Cusco, but these are some of the tips I have that are worth mentioning.

Whether you are seeking the best time to visit Machu Picchu or a few tips to get you through your journey to Machu Picchu, I hope this mini guide helps you in preparation for your trip, and as always, I would be excited to hear from you! what would you like to see more of or less of?

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About Me

About Me

Hola!

Hola! I'm Hanny and I have been traveling since the age of three. Although, I grew up traveling, it wasn't until 2013, when I decided to start a blog. Read More

xoxo Hanny

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