By Allie Almario
As one of the most iconic sites in all of South America, Machu Picchu is probably also Peru’s most popular destination. It’s been named one of the New Seven Wonders of The World. American explorer Hiram Bingham found the mythical Machu Picchu in 1911, hidden in the clouds at about 8,000 feet in elevation.
The 15th century citadel is open daily, rain or shine, even during major holidays. When you are planning a trip there, keep in consideration the following information when deciding when to go to Machu Picchu:
Avoid Rainy Season
No one can predict Mother Nature and sometimes, even she can surprise us with changing her mind. Typically, rainy season for Machu Picchu runs from December to March. In fact, no Inca Trail permits are issued in February as it’s usually closed for maintenance. Historically, the worst of floods and landslides have happened in the early part of the year. While getting stranded in a remote mountain outpost may seem like an adventure to some of us, it can cause havoc and travel nightmares for anyone else with plane connections and hotel reservations elsewhere. For those who are prepared to go despite the likely rains, you’ll be blessed with a World Heritage Site that will be fairly clear of crowds and hotels that might even offer discounted rates.
Skip The End Of June
One of Peru’s biggest festivals, Inti Raymi, celebrates the Inca Empire’s most revered gods. This colorful religious festival takes place around the end of June, so crowds swell as travelers swarm into the Sacred Valley and hotel prices sky rocket. Some people book as far as a year in advance to guarantee hotel space around festival time. It is difficult to plan any travels in and around Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, around this time, so think ahead and avoid traveling here from about June 15 to the first week of July if possible.
Crowds, Crowds, Crowds
In the southern hemisphere, our winter is their summer, so that means the months of June, July and August are wintertime in Peru. That doesn’t stop the biggest crowds from heading to Machu Picchu because it’s also when most of North Americans and Europeans take vacation. Visitors who are ready to wear layers of warm clothing to protect themselves from crisp mountain temperatures can expect to feel chilly temperatures in the morning and in the evening. Bundle up! The sun will warm you up during the day, and you won’t likely need an umbrella as it’s generally dry.
Many travelers rush through the ruins, arriving in the morning and taking an afternoon train back to Cusco. Take your time and overnight at one of the many lovely hotels and inns located below in the town below Machu Picchu. By overnighting, you just might see the ruins the way it should be seen – shrouded in mysterious fog – or the way it’s best photographed, with blue skies and the gorgeous Andean mountains in the background. Entrance tickets into the citadel must be purchased in advance and are timed for crowd control.
The Best Time To Go To Machu Picchu? When It’s Lush and Green
Personally, we love to recommend travel to Machu Picchu between May and October. It’s after the rainy season, so the mountains are verdant. Temperatures stay mild without too many extremes. If you are combining Machu Picchu with the Galapagos Islands, you’ll have good weather in both destinations.