What is the Best Month to Hike the Inca Trail?

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Inca Trail | 0 comments

best month to hike the Inca trail

Are you ready for an unforgettable journey through history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes? Strap on your Best Inca Trail hiking boots, because we’re about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime – hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

The best time to visit Machu Picchu and hike the Inca Trail is from late March to May and from September to mid-December. These months fall before and after the rainy season, providing excellent weather conditions and fewer crowds.

However, the dry season from June to August is also great but may be crowded. During the buffer months, the hiking trails and Machu Picchu are less crowded, and the weather remains good for the most part, with occasional rains providing great photo opportunities.

Inca Trail Tours
Inca Trail To Machu Picchu

When To Go To Hike The Inca Trail?

Our first question is. When is the month to visit the Inca trail? The ideal time for this epic hike is during the dry season, which lasts from May to September. During these months, you’ll enjoy beautiful weather with clear skies and minimal rainfall – perfect conditions for hiking.

However, keep in mind that June to August is peak season, so expect more tourist traffic in Machu Picchu and other national park attractions in Peru.

Not to worry though for the Inca trail, as the trail has a limited number of permits available 500 each day, ensuring it never feels too crowded. Just remember to book your hike well in advance!

RELATED: Hike the 4 Days Inca Trail Group Service

Machu Picchu Ina Trail Hike
2 Day Hike Machu Picchu Picchu Inca trail

How Much Cost To Hike The Inca Trail?

Next, let’s talk budget. The cost of this amazing experience can vary widely, depending largely on the level of comfort you prefer. On average, expect to spend around $500 which does not include an extra porter, some transportation, or food may not be included in this budget.

Another hiking benefit to $1000 for a 4-day hike including most of what we call the Inca trail package. This includes permits, meals, and camping equipment. Sounds like a pretty good deal for a walk back in time, right? recommended!!!

RELATED: Peru Travel and Trips

How Hard is The Inca Trail?

The Classic Inca Trail, renowned for its breathtaking beauty, presents a moderate-level hiking challenge. Spanning across a distance of 43 km (26 mi), this iconic trail takes you through rugged terrain, with steep inclines and descents. Over the duration of four days, you will journey at an elevation nearing 13,828 feet (4,215 meters), immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring Andean landscapes.

While the trail is rated as moderate, the relentless uphill and downhill sections can test your endurance and resilience. However, the rewarding experience and the sense of accomplishment make it all worthwhile.

Read: Complete review about How Hard Is The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Now, onto the exciting part – choosing your itinerary. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Classic 4-day Inca Trail: This is the most popular choice. Covering approximately 26 miles, you’ll traverse stunning landscapes and explore awe-inspiring Inca ruins.
  2. Shortened 2-day Inca Trail: If you’re short on time or prefer a less strenuous hike, this option covers a shorter distance but still offers the highlights of the trail.
  3. 5-day Inca trail for family and friends: Inca Trail 5-day tour to Machu Picchu with family in small groups to explore Inca cities.
  4. 7-day Inca Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu: This combination of Salkantay and the Inca Trail allows people to have a complete hiking experience. You will get to see some amazing landscapes along the way.
Inca Trail + Ancascocha
Ancascocha Trail with Inca Trail 5 days

Where to Stay and sleep along the Inca trail

During your hike, you’ll be camping under the stars in designated campsites along the route. Most tour operators provide tents and camping equipment, but it’s always wise to double-check.

If you’re after a touch of luxury, there are upgraded camping options available that offer enhanced facilities and services.

Exploring Alternatives Hiking Tours to Machu Picchu

If the Inca Trail permits are sold out or you’re seeking a less crowded experience, consider alternative trails like the Salkantay Trek 5 Days or the Lares Valley Trek to Machu Picchu 4 days. These trails offer equally stunning scenery and a glimpse into the rich Andean culture.

Essential Tips for Hikers

Last but not least, here are some crucial tips to ensure your hike is smooth sailing:

Permits: Secure your Inca Trail permit well in advance through a licensed tour operator to avoid disappointment.

Cultural Significance: Take time to learn about the cultural significance of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Understanding the history of these ancient ruins will enrich your journey immensely.

Gear: Pack appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy boots, clothing layers for varying weather conditions, a reliable backpack, a sleeping bag, and a headlamp.

Inca TrailMap
Map Of The Inca Trail 4 Days

Inca Trail Weather by Month

It’s crucial to understand the weather conditions when planning your Inca Trail adventure. Here’s a monthly breakdown of the average temperatures and rainfall:

  • January: This month experiences daily high temperatures around 19°C (66°F) and lows around 7°C (45°F). January is wet with around 18 rainy days, accumulating up to 145mm (5.7 inches) of rainfall. Despite the rain, there are periods of beautiful sunshine that can make it hot and humid.
  • May: Expect daily high temperatures around 19°C, with lows rarely falling below -1°C. Rain is minimal in May, you might experience up to 2 days of rain and about 5mm (0.3 inches) of precipitation.
  • August: The weather in August is similar to May. The daily high temperatures are around 18°C, with lows ranging from 1°C to 3°C and rarely falling below -2°C. Rainfall in August is similar to what you’d find in May.
  • October: Daily high temperatures this month are around 20°C. Low temperatures range from 5°C to 6°C. October records about 40mm (1.6 inches) of rain throughout the month with plenty of dry, sunny days.

As you can see, the best times to trek the Inca Trail largely depend on your preference for hiking conditions and weather.

Trekking in Wet Season

The wet season in Peru extends from November to April, with the heaviest rains typically falling in January and February. Hiking during this period can be more challenging due to slippery trails and reduced visibility.

However, the landscapes are lush and vibrant, and there are fewer tourists. Trekking in the high-altitude regions can be particularly challenging, as rain in the lower areas translates into snow at higher elevations. Be sure to pack waterproof gear and be prepared for colder temperatures if you decide to brave the wet season!

Trekking in Dry Season

The dry season, from May to October, is the most popular time for trekking in Peru, with July and August being the busiest months. Trails are generally dry and the weather is warm, making conditions perfect for hiking.

The mountains, while not as green, provide breathtaking views, especially under the clear blue skies. However, due to the lower humidity and higher winds in the Sacred Valley, nights can get quite chilly, so bring layers to stay comfortable. Remember, this is also the peak tourist season, so secure your permits early!

While each season has its pros and cons, the experience of hiking the Inca Trails and exploring the rich Andean culture is rewarding, regardless of the time of year.

Inca Trail 4 Days
Inca Trail 4 Days Group Service Picchu Peru

When is the Best Month to Hike the Inca Trail? A Month-by-Month Guide

Please note that while weather conditions can be unpredictable, this guide provides a fairly accurate overview of what each month offers for hiking the Inca Trail.

January

As the wettest month in the Andes, January brings heavy downpours, often in the form of hail, snow, or sleet at higher altitudes. However, the rain typically follows a tropical pattern, building up in the afternoons. After the New Year rush, the Inca Trail is less crowded during this time. Take caution as rock falls can occur and have caused accidents in the past.

One advantage of trekking the Inca Trail during the rainy season is that a significant portion of the trail is paved, providing a solid and relatively dry path. In comparison, other trails in the Andes can be slippery and muddy, making hiking uncomfortable.

February Is the worst month to hike the Inca trail

February is considered an extremely wet month on the Inca Trail, and as a result, it is closed for hiking. The steep mountainsides become loose and slippery, making it the most dangerous month for landslides and rock falls.

However, don’t despair if your only available vacation time falls in February – Machu Picchu remains open, and there are other excellent wet season treks, such as the Lares and Machu Picchu trek.

March Month

March marks the reopening of the Inca Trail for the year. With fewer rainy days and more sunshine, it can be an ideal time to embark on the trek. The trails are generally less crowded, and everyone is filled with anticipation for the upcoming year. However, be aware that if the rains persist longer than usual, there may be a risk of landslides.

April Month shoulder season

In our opinion, April is the best time of year for the Inca Trail. It tends to be dry, and sunny and attracts fewer tourists. Keep an eye on your calendar when booking, as Easter often falls in April.

May: Best month to hike the Inca trail (shoulder season)

May is one of the driest months and an excellent time to hike the Inca Trail, especially early in the month.

If you’re interested in experiencing the blend of Andean traditions and Christian festivities, you might want to plan your trip around the Corpus Christi festivities, which usually occur in May. The QollorRiti festival takes place in the days leading up to Corpus Christi and offers a unique and otherworldly experience for adventurous travelers.

June: Is the best month to hike the Inca trail

June is known for its dry days and cold nights, making it a popular time to hike the Inca Trail.

Not only does the weather cooperate, but it’s also the month of Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun. Celebrated on June 24th, it is the busiest time of the year in Cusco and adds an extra layer of excitement to your journey.

July: Perfect month to hike the Inca trail

July is an excellent month to embark on the adventurous Inca Trail hike. However, it’s important to note that Peru’s national holiday falls at the end of July (28/29 July), which makes it a busy time for both Peruvians and visitors to conquer the Inca Trail or explore the magnificent Machu Picchu by train.

August is the windy season to hike the Inca trail

Similar to June and July, the weather in August is ideal for hiking the Inca Trail, making it another popular month for outdoor enthusiasts.

Although there are fewer festivals in Cusco during August, the vibrant Peruvian traditions are still waiting to be experienced.

September Snow season on the high Andes mountain

September is considered one of the best times of the year to embark on the Inca Trail adventure. With generally dry days and occasional rain, it provides favorable trekking conditions.

The nights are slightly warmer than the winter months, and with fewer travelers from the Northern Hemisphere, it offers a more serene experience.

October is the beginning of the rainy season (shoulder season)

For those choosing to trek the Inca Trail in October, expect slightly warmer weather, although rain becomes more frequent. Permits may not sell out as quickly as during the peak months of May through August.

A special highlight of October is the ‘Mes Morado’ or Purple Month, where devotees of the Lord of the Miracles can be seen dressed in purple. If you’re fortunate, you might witness the main feast days in either Cusco or Lima.

November Rain season (shoulder season)

As November marks the start of the rainy season, trekking conditions can vary. However, you might still encounter good weather for your adventure. One advantage is that you won’t need to book your Inca Trail pass as far in advance as during other months.

December Christmas and rainy days

December brings rain, with an average of about 5 inches (125 mm) throughout the month. Despite the wet weather, it’s a popular time for vacations among Peruvians and international travelers alike.

The holiday season, including Christmas and New Year’s, attracts a significant number of visitors, so it’s advisable to secure your permits well in advance.

Conclusion

Embarking on the Inca Trail is more than just a hike; it’s a journey into the past, a testament to the grandeur of an ancient civilization, and an adventure that will leave you with memories of a lifetime. So, are you ready to hit the trail?

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about hiking or traveling in Peru, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can leave a comment below or chat with us anytime. We’re here to answer all of your questions, including those related to the Inca Trail.

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Cesar Conde

I’m Cesar Conde, owner of Tour Leaders Peru & Travel Advisor and my other side job is Nomadic Digital. I share my own amazing Tour Experiences, travel stories, guides, and itineraries for travelers like you and me!

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