Machu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and also one of the most visited sites in South America, if not the world. The ruins are on many people’s wish lists to visit before they die. The spectacular Inca site has an interesting history and complicated location, which is why the Spanish invaders never found it. Machu Picchu, which means old mountain in the local Quechua language, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed on any trip to South America. One of the things on most people’s minds when planning a visit to the Inca citadel is, of course, the Machu Picchu weather, what is the best time to visit it, and what to wear, among other facts. And for this reason, together with Machu Travel Peru, we have proposed to delve into these topics to assure the best experience possible in Machu Picchu.
Everything you need to know about the weather in Machu Picchu
- Machu Picchu conditions
- Annual average temperature
- The Rainy Season or rainy summers
- The Dry Season or sunny winters
- The best time to go
- Useful tips for the Machu Picchu weather
Machu Picchu conditions
Machu Picchu has an average temperature of around 50 – 75ºF (12 – 24ºC) due to where is Machu Picchu located. The Inca citadel is located in a tropical cloud forest, between the Andean mountains and the Amazon basin, to over 2400 m.a.s.l. That’s meaning warm days, cool-off nights, a humidity of 86% on average, and a constant rain threat. Of course, its weather is divided into two seasons during the year, the dry season and the rainy season. As you can see, the beautiful lost citadel of the Incas is hidden in the middle of a magic cloud forest in Peru. So sunny winters and rainy summers make up the general climate of the subtropical lands of the Inca citadel.
Annual average temperature
As we indicated before, the average temperature during a year can range between 50 and 75ºC (12 – 24ºC). The average minimums range is between 46 and 52ºF (8 – 11ºC) But on the hottest days, it is possible to see up to average highs around 69 – 80ºF (21 – 27ºC). These can remain fairly constant throughout the year. But this does not mean that there are no potential frosts, especially during May, when the weather begins to drop.
Also, two other important factors that affect the climate are the proximity of the site to the Equator and its significant elevation. The Inca citadel stands at an elevation of 7,972 feet or 2,430 meters above sea level.
A. Constant Rain Threats
With more than 100 rains per year, the site reaches an average of 1803.4 mm or 71 inches of precipitation per year. The most frequent rains occur in the intermediate months between the dry to rainy seasons; October, November, and March. Also, the weather in the Inca citadel can have a few thunderstorms from time to time. If you see a virtual Machu Picchu map, you’ll note that thunderstorms can be seen passing through the slopes of the mountains. And although it is usually very rare, hail can be a possibility that we should not overlook.
B. Beautiful days
But rains and storms are not the only visible weather in the citadel. On the positive side, Machu Picchu has more than 2460 hours of sunshine a year. Mornings can get foggy. But as the sun breaks through, the fog dissipates and the ruins light up in all their glory. These climates are much more visible during April as the dry season approaches.
The Rainy Season or rainy Summers
Among interesting Machu Picchu facts, the two seasons that form its weather is the most important. As the name implies, between December to April, copious and intense rains are present all days over Machu Picchu. 75% of annual precipitations occur in this season, resulting in 91% of humidity all day. That means foggy days, humidity, rain, and muddy paths (Once inside the citadel). Moreover, every 3 or 4 days, the mornings will be opaque totally. The average minimum can drop to 46 – 52ºF (8 – 11ºC) becoming the coldest months of all year. But, not all have to be negative, the low number of tourists is an advantage for someone who wants to visit the citadel during this season and have Machu Picchu completely for oneself.
December is the beginning of summer in Machu Picchu. The daytime average temperature is 19ºC (66ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 7ºC (45ºF). Even though the temperatures are warmer, the rains are more frequent. It is the official start of the rainy season, and this coincides with the low tourist season. Thunderstorms are possible throughout the day. During this month, the weather can be unpredictable.
The daytime average temperature is 20ºC (68ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 8ºC (46ºF). During January, the Inca citadel weather is marked by cloudy skies. Especially during the early hours of the morning. But eventually warmer sensations are appreciated during the day and afternoon. January is still the rainy season, but the rains are not so frequent. The climate of the month is characterized by misty horizons and some occasional rains. It is ideal to take advantage of the sporadic sunny hours (if there are any) to take different photos. And we always recommend touring the place with a qualified guide. A guided tour will teach you about what is Machu Picchu and its different constructions.
The daytime average temperature is 20ºC (68ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 8ºC (46ºF). The rainy season continues during February. You can expect numerous persistent showers of rain. February is not one of the best months to visit Machu Picchu, as it is full of wet trails and covered in clouds. But, sometimes, when the rains stop and the clouds recede, the sun appears in all its splendor. February is characterized by warm afternoons and humid nights. Something to keep in mind is that during February, the Inca Trail is closed. Although the citadel remains open, the hiking trail is closed for maintenance. In addition, the persistent rains make February the worst month to walk the Inca Trail. If the weather is favorable, there are other hiking alternatives to Machu Picchu.
The daytime average temperature is 18ºC (64ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 6ºC (42ºF). March is on average the month with the highest rainfall of the year. During this month, the temperatures begin to transition to a slow decrease. Therefore, March is considered one of the coldest months in Machu Picchu. But the humidity maintains a much higher heat index. Cloudy skies can be expected for most of the day. But once the skies clear, the sun can be a bit strong. March can be a good option to avoid the big crowds. You will have plenty of free space to roam the ruins, but expect to get a little wet.
The daytime average temperature is 21ºC (70ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 6ºC (42ºF). April is a month of transition for the weather in Machu Picchu. During April, you begin to see a decrease and there are no longer so many rains. The skies are not so covered in clouds anymore, and you can try climbing the surrounding mountains. During April, the flow of visitors begins to increase. Rain begins to occur to a much lesser extent, welcoming sunny afternoons and lush greenery.
The Dry Season or sunny Winters
No rain, but plenty of tourists. The dry season goes from May to November, and it is characterized by warm days, clear skies, hard rays of sunshine, and a humidity of 77%. The average maximum can get up to 69 to 80ºF (21-27ºC). No wonder that season will be the best to visit and discover the meaning of Machu Picchu but with lots of tourists lining up to enter Machu Picchu or a crowd taking one of the buses to climb citadel mountain. Hours of sunshine are twice that of the rainy season, too. But, it is not all rosy, the mornings can dawn cloudy and rainy, remember that Machu Picchu is located in a tropical cloud rainforest and the nights can be freezing with temperature drops between 17 – 19 degrees. But, definitely, the perfect photos will be done this season.
The daytime average temperature is 21ºC (70ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 3ºC (37ºF). May is the beginning of the dry season in the Peruvian Andes. May is when the Machu Picchu weather can be truly enjoyed. The days are bright and warm, but cooler temperatures can be seen in the afternoon. May is when visitors begin to flock to the citadel and the spaces turn green. If you don’t know how to get to Machu Picchu, you can always go by train. So, what is the best month to go to Peru? Between May and October is an ideal time to visit Peru.
The daytime average temperature is 20ºC (68ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 2ºC (35ºF). June is on average one of the driest months to visit the citadel. Only 2 days of the month can have rainfall. The chances of a clear day are guaranteed. The afternoons are warm and the nights are cool. But May is when tourism starts to pick up again, so June is quite a busy month. Book in advance.
3. July (the coldest month)
The daytime average temperature is 20ºC (68ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 1ºC (33ºF). And what is the coldest month in Machu Picchu? July is the coldest month of the year but with plenty of sunlight every day. Just expect very cool nights with a chance of frost. Be aware that the weather in Machu Picchu can be very unpredictable. So during this time, it is possible to see hailstorms. And despite clear, sunny skies, the temperature can fluctuate from one moment to the next. Dress in layers of clothing.
4. August (best month)
The daytime average temperature is 21ºC (70ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 3ºC (37ºF). And what is the best month to go to Machu Picchu? August is the best month to visit Machu Picchu. The warm days and the pleasant sun are still present. You can appreciate beautiful, clear views of the surroundings of the Inca citadel. August is one of the best months to visit Machu Picchu. Also, it is one of the best months to enjoy alternative walks like Huayna Picchu. An ideal moment to enjoy a honeymoon in Machu Picchu.
The daytime average temperature is 21ºC (70ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 5ºC (41ºF). This is one of the mildest weather months of the year. The sunny days are still appreciated, but the skies begin to partially cloud. The nights start to get colder and the humidity starts to rise. Occasional rainfall is no surprise, and the fog begins to show in the citadel.
The daytime average temperature is 22ºC (72ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 7ºC (45ºF). October is already a month of transition to the rainy season. The little rains are already much more frequent and the skies remain cloudy. Despite this, the sun is still present enough to give pleasant afternoons. Tourists begin to decline.
The daytime average temperature is 22ºC (72ºF) and nighttime average lows are around 7ºC (45ºF). November is characterized by occasional rains in the afternoon and cloudy skies at noon. The weather begins to gradually increase along with the rains. With the decrease in crowds, few tourists enjoy the Inca citadel. November is usually a month with incredible deals for those looking to travel on a budget. Many companies take advantage of this last time of the year, so offers and sales are common.
The best time to go
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season (specifically in august). Since it is characterized by having clear skies and views, pleasant warm climates, adequate humidity, and zero rain in sight. In other words, the perfect time for the perfect photos. The only downside is that this period usually matches the peak tourist season and the Machu Picchu tickets can be sold out within 6 months in advance. So you will have to book your entrance fees, train tickets, and hotels among others, as soon as possible to guarantee your adventure without drawbacks.
Besides, weather seasons vary as much as the wonderful landscapes that Peru is home to. The temperature of Machu Picchu is not the same as in Lima or Arequipa. In fact, the climate of Cusco or the Sacred Valley is not an indicator of what to expect either.
But this is not to say that the rainy season is not a good time to travel. The weather in the Inca citadel is pleasant in some rainy months, as these little drizzles are infrequent, and it is not crowded with crowds of tourists, the last fact is very important. Everything will depend on your budget, the time available, and how many months in advance you have organized the Peru trip.
Useful tips for the Machu Picchu weather
- The rainy season occurs every year from December to March or maybe April. And in these months, yes it does rain, but it does not rain all day. The ground at Machu Picchu will be muddy and the steps inside the ruins will be slippery, so you will need to be prepared with good waterproof shoes with non-slip soles. Raincoats are also essential in these months, so make sure you bring one with you on the different Machu Picchu tours.
- During the rainy season, the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed for February. The reason for this is that the government of Cusco has decided that this is the best month to clean and do maintenance on the trail. On the other hand, this is a great time to visit Machu Picchu as there are fewer crowds and no hikers. Yes, it is wet, but you will get to spend more time wandering around the ruins.
- The dry season is from May to November and is a great time to visit Machu Picchu. The sky is a perfect color of blue there are no clouds and the middle of the day is warm. The mornings are cold, so you will need to bring your jacket with you and also a warm hat will come in handy. If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, make sure to do it within this season.
- The high season coincides with the dry season in Machu Picchu, so there will be crowds. Lines will be long to enter the ruins and to take the buses up and back from the ruins. The site is popular for Europeans and North Americans during these months, so hotels fill up and rooms are sometimes hard to get.
- The dry season and the high tourist season in Machu Picchu are the most frequent. So if you plan to do the famous Inca Trail during these months, you must book about 6 months in advance. This is to guarantee and secure your space on this wonderful hiking trail. There are only certain agencies that are licensed to do the Inca Trail, so do your research if you want to do the Inca Trail.
- The Sun at Machu Picchu, as you are at an altitude of over 2500 meters above sea level, is strong. Make sure you take your sunscreen with you when traveling to Machu Picchu. It does not matter if it is the rainy season or dry season, the sun will still be strong. Take a good hat also.
- Some people seek to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. But this show can be a bit difficult to spot. For this, you will have to arrive at the doors of the ruins at 6 am. But it is worth mentioning that at this time it can get a bit cold. However, be sure to bring enough warm clothing. A good jacket is essential to ward off the cold. If you are cold, you will not enjoy the experience.
- In the heights of the Andes, where Machu Picchu is located, you will need water. We recommend staying hydrated, especially when the sun is out. Take lots of water with you on your visit to the citadel. If you take an alternative Machu Picchu way like the Inca Trail, you can fill your water bottle at each lunch break. Do not forget to drink water during your tours in Peru.
- Not really much to do with the weather, but again, if you are doing the Inca Trail, take snacks and chocolate to help with the hike. The hike can be challenging, so remember to do a few walks before you leave home as it will help you on the test.
- The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the weather and the site no matter what time of year you choose to travel to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful places you will visit in your travel life.
- On the top of Machu Picchu always you’ll feel warm weather, not cold. Because, the citadel is located closest to the sky, inside a jungle region. Therefore, the area receives a more direct influence from the sun despite cloudy skies.
“THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, JUST SOFT PEOPLE”
As you will see, the Machu Picchu weather is one of the factors to take into account. Especially if you are looking to plan your dream trip. You don’t want to be surprised by unforeseen weather or heavy rain. It is important to know when we will travel and what will await us. Together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we hope we have been helpful. If you want to know more about our different routes, do not hesitate to consult with our qualified advisors. Our team will be delighted to help you make the trip of your dreams come true. We believe that any time is ideal to visit Machu Picchu. This destination is a magical corner that we cannot miss on our visit to Peru.