The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most famous treks in the world. For many travellers, this hike is the highlight of a trip to Peru in general.
So when is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?
The Inca trail hike is open almost all year-round but some months are definitely better than others. Take the weather into account and be aware of the peak tourist seasons.
***Read on for a season to season guide for hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In this blogging article, we will tackle the pros and cons of hiking each month of the year..
Peru is blessed with good trekking conditions for most of the year.
Strictly speaking, May to September have the best weather for hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Over these months, the days are sunny with a low chance of rain.
You can book the Inca trail for every month except February. Personally, I recommend April, May, September or October as the best time to hike the Inca trail. At this time, the weather is good plus you miss the crowds. You can usually find great deals on Inca trail trek tours over these shoulder months.
Hiking the Inca Trail in the Dry Season
The dry season; on the Inca Trail falls between April and September. At this time of year, you can expect blue skies and sunny days, also making this the best time to hike the Inca trail.
These are the winter months. Night skies are clear and temperatures can drop to almost zero degrees Celsius (about 32 degrees Fahrenheit) in the evenings.
Let’s go through the most ideal months to hike the Inca Trail.
Hiking the Inca Trail In April 2024
April is the tail end of the wet season on the Inca Trail. Generally, you can look forward to excellent hiking weather as April marks a change of seasons and you may catch a few showers.
Following the rain, the mountainside turns green. Hikers can enjoy seeing thousands of wildflowers along the trail.
Hiking The Inca Trail In May 2024
May is often said to be the best month to hike the Inca Trail. At this time of year, the rains have ended and there is plenty of sunshine.
May falls in the shoulder season. There are not as many bookings during this time of year compared to June and July. This combination of factors makes May a perfect month to hike the Inca Trail.
Hiking The Inca Trail in June, July, and August
June to August is peak season on the classic Inca Trail. Hikers can enjoy warm days with a low likelihood of rain. There is also no fog to obscure the breathtaking scenery.
In addition, Cusco has a festive atmosphere in June. There are lots of festivals and events happening around the city at this time of year.
Please Note: Permits for these months sell out fast. If you plan on hiking during this time of year, you should book your trail package at least 10 months in advance.
The Inca Trail in October
October is a shoulder month on the Inca Trail. Personally, this is one of my favourite months to hike this trail. The weather is ideal with warmer temperatures than those in June-August. October is also early enough to avoid the rain.
If you think that the best time to hike the Inca Trail is in October, you would also be right. You will find that most of the crowds have already cleared off. This makes it easier to book the trail at this time. Decreased foot traffic means it is also one of the best times to visit Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail Rainy Season Hiking
The rainy season in Peru runs from November to March. If you are planning on hiking the Inca Trail over the Rainy season, know what you are getting into.
Hiking Tip: Trails are wet and sudden downpours are almost guaranteed at this time of year. Be sure to pack lots of layers and waterproof clothing.
Hiking The Inca Trail in November 2024
November is the start of the rainy season in Peru. Even so, most days are rain free. Summer days and warm temperatures make for comfortable walking conditions.
The only negative with the warmer weather is that there are more bugs around the trail.
Hiking Tip: Make sure you pack good repellent! I personally recommend buying a product like Repel Insect Repellent. It’s made from natural ingredients like lemongrass eucalyptus which protects your skin, leaving it feeling and smelling fresh for up to 6 hours.
Less people book the hike in November, so you can sometimes find better prices on tours. This also means you will see fewer crowds on the trail.
The Inca Trail in December and January 2024
December and January are in the middle of Peru’s summer and the rainy season. Heavy downpours are common at this time of year.
Rain here is unpredictable and you can experience multiple conditions in a single day. As the famous English saying goes, ‘when it rains, it pours’. Flash floods and landslides are a real risk during this period. The pathway is also muddy which makes for a slower trek.
If you prepare well, the wet weather can add a certain ambiance to the landscape. Mist snaking around the ruins is an eerie and beautiful sight.
The Inca Trail In February is CLOSED!
The Inca Trail is closed during the month of February. This is when the most rain falls. The closure period is necessary to maintain the trails, which is why it is not the best time to hike the Inca trail.
The Inca Trail In March
During March, the change of seasons is well underway. The rains have all but disappeared and temperatures are still fairly warm. Tourist season has yet to properly begin. This makes March another great month to find deals on Inca Trail Tour Packages.