What is the best time of the year to hike the Inca Trail?
If you have decided to hike the Inca Trail, there are some aspects you need to take into consideration whether you prefer a private service or be part of a group. Also, you need to consider your Physical resistance and prepare physically before coming.
Something that is very important is to decide the time of the year you will come. The weather is a determinant factor since the perfect climate will make this experience a memorable one.
Weather in Cusco
“The weather of the Andes is like the women of the Andes: changeable and unpredictable.”
– A popular Cusco saying
In Cusco, the weather can be very changeable during the day and night, since, being located in the mountains, the days can be very hot while the nights become frosty. It never snows.
- The months of September, October, November, and December have a nice average temperature.
- On average, the warmest month is September.
- On average, the wettest month is January.
- The average annual maximum temperature is: 19.0° Celsius (66.2° Fahrenheit)
- The average annual minimum temperature is: 4.0° Celsius (39.2° Fahrenheit)
Cusco has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy.
The dry season: From May to October
The weather during this period is predominantly dry, especially in June, July, and August. Days are bright and sunny with a temperature of 16 °C (61 °F) while nights are much colder sometimes with a low temperature of 0 °C (32 °F).
The dry season is widely considered the best time to come to Cusco, but it is also the busiest time to travel.
The rainy season: From November to April
During this time Cusco receives a greater amount of rainfall. Average daytime temperatures are higher than the dry season at 18 °C (64 °F) while night temperatures can be as cold as 9 °C (48 °F).
If you don’t mind getting wet, visit during Cusco’s summer season for unbeatable hotel prices and fewer tourists. But, heavy summer rains leave the trail muddy and difficult to hike. On the bright side, if you do decide to visit during these wet months, you’ll find the rain doesn’t halt activity in Cusco city.
Is the Inca Trail crowded?
Since 2002, access to the Inca Trail has been limited to 500 people per day (roughly split among 200 tourists along with 300 guides and porters), no matter the time of the year.
You won’t see all the 500 people at once. Each tourist agency walks at a different pace.
There are months where all spots are sold out, and months where there aren’t. The high season is the dry season especially from May to September. The spots in May and June are sold out first.
The season where you won’t see many trekkers in the Inca Trail is from October to April. During the rainy season, there is a high probability you will find a spot closer to your start date. However, we always recommend booking months in advance. Remember the sooner the better.
It is important to come some days prior to your trek to acclimatize to the altitude. You can check this article from a previous blog to be well prepared: How to acclimate to the altitude in Cusco.
Note: Beware: If you have the intent of trekking to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is closed in February due to the heavy rains. During this month the trail is in maintenance.
What is the best month to do the Inca Trail?
Many people prefer to travel in May since there is minimal chance of rain and the mountains are lush and green from the passing rainy season. However, since many tourists come, Inca Trail permits are sold out really fast. We recommend booking with at least 6 months in advance in order to secure your spot for the Inca Trail.
Securing a permit is only possible with an approved tour operator, like Inkayni Peru Tours, who buy these daily permits in advance. This means that you can only do the Inca Trail with an approved tour company to secure your spot. It is necessary for everyone to obtain permits in advance to do the hike.
Inkayni Additional Tips: If you decide to come in June, you can add the Sacsayhuaman visit on June 24 and enjoy the Inti Raymi feast. There are some activities that you can do while acclimating to the altitude like a city tour.
Visit our website and check all the tours we offer: Inkayni Peru Tours
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch