Before you plan to come and visit the famous Machu Picchu, one of the seven world wonders since 2007, you should be aware of the weather so you can prepare yourself accordingly. I’m sure that when most people think of South America, they associate it with sunny & warm weather – and yes, part of this is true.
But what kind of weather can you expect at the Machu Picchu (2400m above sea level) which is located in the Andean mountains?
What is the best time of the year to do a Machu Picchu tour? This blog post will focus on these and many more questions regarding the weather at Machu Picchu.
In Cusco, you have to be aware of two different seasons, dry season and rainy season.
Dry season normally lasts from April to September and rainy season from October/ November up to March.
The high and low season go in hand with the two weather seasons, meaning that you can expect a lot of travelers during dry season (nice rhyme btw) and whereas it’s rather calm during rainy season.
“You can’t be prepared for the weather at Machu Picchu… in the morning it was foggy, then it started to rain and at the end of our tour it was humid and sunny. Be prepared for a unique day at the sanctuary with some unpredictable weather.” – Michael Dixon, USA
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Machu Picchu Weather – Dry Season
From April to September, the Machu Picchu weather is rather good (sunny and most likely dry). Considering the weather alone, this is the best time of the year to visit the famous wonder of the world.
You certainly won’t be the only explorer visiting the Machu Picchu during that time of the year.
In fact, between July and August it can get pretty crowded, as these months mean summer vacations for many countries.
These months are the peak season and the weather at Machu Picchu is sunny and dry.
This makes it easy to walk on the ancient paths of the Incas. If you’re looking to get the best shots of Machu Picchu, this is probably the right time for you as the hours of sunlight are twice as much in this time period.
And trust me, seeing how the sun rises over Machu Picchu is an incredible feeling which you will never forget.
However, during the rainy season you can also get some amazing, mystic shots.
Even if September is still considered dry season, the weather will be a lot more unpredictable than in the months before.
October normally marks the change of climate, as it starts to rain more and more.
Machu Picchu Weather – Rainy Season
The Machu Picchu weather from November – March is not really the best and it can potentially rain a lot.
What I mean by “a lot” is around 80% of annual rainfall!
From March to April, the rainfall will reduce by half, but the humidity goes up a lot.
This causes a lot of fog, which can make it quite difficult to see the Machu Picchu.
However, these moments when Machu Picchu pops out of the fog are incredible and will make you feel like a real discoverer.
Normally, the rain at the Machu Picchu almost never endures more than 2 hours before it stops. So it’s rather rare that you will be covered in rain the entire day.
Temperatures at Machu Picchu
The annual average temperature at the Machu Picchu is around 16°C, but the sun can burn on your skin with up to 25°C during the dry season.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like too much but due to the altitude you can get sunburned easily, so make sure to use sunscreen.
However, it can also get really cold in the early mornings of June & July, where the temperature can drop to -2°C.
This is why the next topic about what clothes to wear is crucial so that you are prepared properly.
If you are looking for a weather guarantee I have to disappoint you, because the only guarantee is that the weather can change regularly!
What clothes to wear for your Machu Picchu tour
As you just learned about the unpredictability of the weather in the Andean mountains, you can guess how important the right clothing is.
Do you want to hear about a great tip for your Machu Picchu tour? It’s all about wearing multiple layers! This way, you can deal with the cold temperatures in the morning and enjoy the sun in the afternoon at the same time.
The best way is to take a small backpack with you to Machu Picchu, so you can put some of your layers in it once inside instead of carrying them all the way.
In general, I would recommend a light zip-off hiking pants. I personally like to wear the zip-off pants, because they keep me warm in the morning and in case it’s getting warm during the day, I just take the lower part off and have some nice shorts.
Let’s go from top to bottom considering the right clothing.
I’d recommend wearing either a synthetic performance shirt or just a regular cotton T-shirt, both will do their job!
Otherwise a long-sleeve is also pretty good, because it will help you to keep the annoying bugs away.
For a mid-layer I can recommend something that is not too warm and not too heavy. Therefore, a good choice is a polyester fleece or just a regular hoodie/ light wool sweater.
The outer layer is really important in case it starts to rain or if it gets windy at the Machu Picchu, because keep in mind that the weather is really unpredictable there.
Thus, I’d go for something “water repellent & breathable”, if you plan on hiking in the Andes.
We are almost done talking about what clothes to wear for Machu Picchu, but let’s also take a quick look at some other necessities.
These would be your sunglasses, sunscreen, repellent, an umbrella/a rain poncho and a hat.
Last but not least, make sure you have some solid hiking shoes!
This is crucial, because some hiking paths can be very slippery and steep, especially if you are planning to climb the Huayna Picchu.
Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
As you guys already know, the dry season is pretty popular amongst travelers, especially the months of July and August.
In these months the weather at Machu Picchu is amazing and you will have the most hours of sunlight and the least chance that it will rain.
But keep in mind that a majority of travelers will come during these months and therefore it will get more difficult to get tickets for Machu Picchu and especially for Huayna Picchu.
To enjoy the Machu Picchu experience, I recommend you to go either just before July or slightly after August as the weather will be still good in the dry season, you will have enough hours of sunlight and especially it will be not so crowded at the sanctuary.
Therefore you should aim to visit the Machu Picchu in the months of May, June, September as well as October to enjoy the overall experience! This is also the best time if you are looking to combine your Machu Picchu visit with a hiking tour, such as the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek.
In my opinion, the first months of the year, January and February, are probably the most difficult to visit Machu Picchu as it’s really wet and difficult to get around.
Besides that many roads are closed due to bad weather and it can occur that you won’t be able to climb up Huayna Picchu – believe me you don’t want to miss that!
If you plan to reach the Machu Picchu through the Inca Trail, remember that the famous trail will be closed in all of February.
So if you plan on visiting the wonder of the world, be prepared for potentially inconsistent weather, the so-called “Machu Picchu weather”.
Depending on when you visit, there can be substantial differences considering the amount of people, the difficulty to get tickets and, of course, the weather.
In general, we recommend you to visit shortly before or shortly after high season. The chances of good weather and no large tourist groups are high during this time.
Apart from the weather, do you already know which train to take to get to Machu Picchu? There are different possibilities so make sure to choose the one that suits your needs best.
Do you know the differences of the Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu?
Have you been to Machu Picchu before and want to share your experiences with us? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what it was like!