Best time to hike the Inca Trail

by Freddy September 20, 2022
camino inca machu picchu

The famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the principal attractions of Peru. Known locally as the ‘Camino Inca’, it consists of a network of ancient Inca paths that lead to the lost city of the Inca’s through the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. The ‘Classic 4-day Inca Trail‘ is considered to be 1 of the 10 best hikes in the world, and is a 43 km (26 mile) route starting from the check point at Kilometre 82. The trail is notoriously challenging as it ascends and descends over the Andes Mountains, through Amazonian cloud forests and alongside ancient archaeological centers. Therefore, physical ability and thorough preparation, both mentally and logistically is recommended.

The ‘Short Inca Trail’ is a 2-day excursion, starting at the checkpoint of Kilometre 102. The 13km trail takes you on a journey through Inca history, visiting the impressive sites of Chachabamba and Wiñayhuayna, before culminating at the famous panoramic viewpoint atop the Inti Punku Sun Gate. The 2-day tour treats you to not one, but two chances to get to know Machu Picchu, with the in-depth guided tour of the Inca citadel taking place on day 2.

Due to the prestige and popularity of the Inca Trail, we strongly recommend that you book your place in advance and start preparing yourself for the challenge ahead. Below is a guide of the climatic and tourist seasons in Peru, to enable you to make the most informed decision on when to embark on the adventure.

What is the best time to do the Inca Trail?

The mountainous Andean region surrounding the Inca Trail experiences two primary climatic seasons throughout the year. The rainy season runs from December till April and the dry season runs from April to December. The winter months are June-August, making them the coldest, but with 12 hours of high-altitude sunshine a day, you will only tend to feel the cold throughout the night. Daytime temperatures typically range from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F) for most of the year.

Both the Classic 4-day Inca Trail and the 2-day Short Inca Trail are open 11 months of the year. By order of the Ministry of Culture, the trails are closed during the month of February to enable them carry out conservation, maintenance and cleaning work. February is the wettest month of the year in this region, so owing to the constant rainfall and thick jungle fog, it has been determined that the trails would be too dangerous for visitors to attempt. The Inca Trails reopen on March 1 each year.

Naturally we recommend that visitors favour the dry season, with the best months for exploring the Inca Trail being May and October. Not only are the conditions during the dry season more preferable for hiking, but the trails themselves are significantly less wet. In the case of the Inca Trail, this really does make all the difference, since you will be ascending and descending ancient stone steps for many hours a day. Not to mention your final prize at the finish line, the famous view of Machu Picchu. Your souvenir photo of the citadel is almost certain to be much more glorious throughout the drier months.

Inca Trail Rainy Season

The rainy season runs from December till April, with the wettest months being in January and February. Although we advise visitors to be prepared for wet conditions during this season, it is worth bearing in mind that it does not rain all the time. The summer months in Peru also take place during this period, with the warmest months occurring in January and February. Despite the increase in temperature however, the overcast skies and rain showers can make it seem colder on gloomy days. The Inca trail is closed during the month of February to the volume of rainfall and unfavourable hiking conditions.

Inca Trail Dry Season

The dry season runs from April to December, with the high season for tourism taking place in May, June and July. The best months for exploring the Inca Trail are May and October, as not only are the conditions more preferable for hiking, but the trails themselves are significantly less wet. In the case of the Inca Trail, this really does make all the difference, since you will be ascending and descending ancient stone steps for many hours a day. The clear skies also treat visitors to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glacial mountains, subtropical jungles and archaeological sites that are visited on route to Machu Picchu. Due to the increase in tourism in Cusco during this time, you will need to share the experience with others.

Weather in real time

El tiempo

Make your reservation to the Inca Trail in advance

Entrance into the Inca trail can only be achieved through entering the official government checkpoints that are stationed along the trail. It is therefore a provision of the Ministry of Culture of Peru that in order to enter, visitors must be accompanied by a licenced tour guide who is registered with an authorised travel agency. Reservations for the Inca Trail must also be secured 3-4 months in advance, due to high demand and a government limit of 500 entrances per day.

Where the Inca Trail begins

The classic 4-day Inca Trail starts from the check point at Kilometre 82 in the community of Piscacucho. The checkpoint is on the edge of the Machu Picchu National Park at an altitude of 2,709 m / 8,887 ft. Piscacucho is 6km away from the town of Ollantaytambo, and is accessible via a 3-hour bus journey from Cusco. Once at the checkpoint, your designated team of personnel and porters, will accompany on your adventure along the Inca Trail.

The short 2-day Inca Trail starts at the checkpoint at Kilometre 102. The checkpoint is located at altitude of 2,200 m / 7,217 ft and is accesible via a 1-hour train from Ollantaytambo train station.

Choose the best agency

Machu Picchu Viajes Peru can guide you on an effortless journey through your Inca Trail adventure. We have more than 10 years’ experience in the tourism industry in Cusco, offering our clients a trustworthy service and a wealth of knowledge about the geography and history of Peru. Our accomplished tour guides deliver an outstanding service to our clients, through their expert navigational skills, multi-lingual capabilities, and long-established careers in the industry. Our tour makes trekking the Inca Trail cost effective and painless, thanks to its all-inclusive nature of transportation, accommodation, freshly prepared food, and porters to carry your luggage. You will also have the peace of mind knowing that your entrance tickets and through the checkpoints and into the citadel of Machu Picchu are booked well in advance of your arrival. From the moment you contact us, we will ensure you are well informed and looked after, and have the perfect customised package to suit your itinerary. Peru is a magnificent country will an abundance of treasures to see and do, so look no further than Machu Picchu Viajes Peru to make your dream adventure a reality!

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