When is the best time to do the inca trail

by | Dec 3, 2023 | Inca Trail | 0 comments

Machu Picchu best time to visit

Are you a thrill-seeker looking to embark on an unforgettable adventure? do you want to know when is the best time of year to do the Inca trail? If so, hiking the Inca Trail for 4 days should be at the top of your bucket list. This iconic trail not only offers stunning views of the Andes Mountains and ancient Inca ruins but also a chance to immerse yourself in diverse Andean ecosystems.

However, like any epic journey, timing and preparation are key. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of when is the best time to hike the Inca trail.

RELATED: When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu Hiking Tours – Tour Leaders Peru

Listen To the Inca Trail Experts

Descending just a few hundred meters on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can transport you from wind-blasted plains into lush montane forests. It’s a unique climate that requires you to be prepared for all weather conditions, regardless of the season.

Even in the ‘dry’ season, you’ll need good, waterproof clothing and boots, along with a mix of warm and cool layers. Sunscreen is a must, and a fleece may prove to be your best friend during the chilly evenings. The Andes are full of surprises!

Wet Season Along the Inca Trail

The ‘wet’ season spans from November to March; during this time, you can almost guarantee you’ll be caught in a downpour. Consequently, this period is not the most recommended for hiking the Inca Trail.

Conversely, the ‘dry’ season, which coincides with Peru’s winter, presents a different challenge. While temperatures can drop close to freezing at night, days can still be gloriously sunny and less likely to have clouds and fog obstructing your view of the Andes’ magnificence.

For further advice on the best time to embark on an Inca Trail Trek Vacation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

book the inca trail
how far in advance do you need to book the Inca trail

How long is the 4-day Inca trail

The Classic Inca Trail Route offers a thrilling adventure—a moderate distance of the Inca trail is a 26-mile hike that takes around 4 days to complete, reaching an impressive maximum elevation of 13,828 feet (4,215 meters).

This trek presents a challenge, but with a solid fitness routine before the hike, most hikers conquer it with enthusiasm and satisfaction. Get ready for an incredible journey!

Best Time to Hike the Inca Trail

Peak Season (May – September) The best time to hike the Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. The weather is generally dry and sunny, perfect for soaking in those breathtaking mountain views.

But remember, this is also the peak tourist season. So, expect crowded trails and campsites. You’ll also need to book your permits well in advance and be prepared for slightly higher prices for accommodations and services.

Low Season: For a more serene and less crowded experience, it is advisable to embark on the Inca Trail during the off-peak months (October – April). These months are optimal for hiking this iconic route to Machu Picchu, offering a delightful blend of tranquility and exploration.

Although you might encounter some rain, the perks include easier permit availability and potentially lower prices for accommodations and services. Plus, there’s something uniquely serene about the misty mountains and lush greenery during this season.

Classic Inca Trail To Machu Picchu 4 days
Classic Inca Trail To Machu Picchu 4 days

When is the best time to hike the short Inca trail?

The optimal time to embark on the Short Inca Trail is from April to October, offering dry and sunny weather with minimal rain. Interestingly, during the rainy season, the trail tends to be less crowded.

Presenting an opportunity for adventure enthusiasts equipped with proper gear to relish the experience regardless of weather conditions. So, be prepared and get ready to enjoy the trail in all its glory!

2 Days Hike to Machu Picchu
Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail Month by Month

In the Andes, the wettest month tends to be towards the end of February. For this reason, the Inca Trail and several other national parks in Peru are closed for essential maintenance. It’s important to note, however, that Machu Picchu remains open during this period. By March, the trail is reopened, though the highlands continue to experience rainfall into early April.

May and October are standout months to trek the Inca Trail. During these times, permit availability is often better as they may sell out slightly less quickly than in the peak months. Additionally, the weather is typically dry and slightly warmer than in June, July, and August.

Near the end of June, the local Festival of the Sun, or Inti Raymi, takes place. This event often leads to bustling crowds in cities like Cuzco, with many locals venturing towards Machu Picchu. Likewise, Peru’s national vacation at the end of July brings a surge of Peruvians looking to hike the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu by train.

The dry conditions continue to draw vacationers through August and September. By November, the rainy season begins to return in full swing. Despite the weather, it might still be a good time for trekking, as the trails are far less crowded and permit availability is easier.

December experiences wet weather and a rise in crowds over the holiday period. This influx leads to increased pricing for accommodations and flights. In January, things begin to ease off again. Despite the wet climate, the trails are less crowded as the holiday rush subsides.

Unique Features of the Trail

No matter where you go, the Inca Trail promises an array of natural wonders and historical treasures. From cloud forests and high mountain passes to ancient Inca ruins and the iconic Machu Picchu, every step of the journey offers a new surprise. Be sure to pack your camera and a sense of adventure!

Inca Trail Temperature Weather
when is the best time to hike the Inca trail by month

Prepping for the Hike

  1. Physical Fitness: The Inca Trail is no walk in the park. Make sure you’re in good physical shape to handle several days of hiking at high altitudes.
  2. Acclimatization: Spend a few days in Cusco or another high-altitude area to get used to the altitude before you hit the trail.
  3. Permits: Don’t leave this until the last minute. Permits can sell out quickly, especially during peak season.
  4. Packing Essentials: Pack lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a good quality backpack, a sleeping bag, a rain jacket, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat. Always be prepared!
  5. Altitude Sickness Prevention: Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and consider taking medication for altitude sickness prevention, as recommended by a healthcare professional.
  6. Hiring a Guide: A knowledgeable guide can provide invaluable insights into the trail’s history and culture, as well as assist with logistics.
  7. Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by properly disposing of waste and not damaging the trail or archaeological sites.
Inca TrailMap
Map Of The Inca Trail 4 Days

The Journey

Be ready for long hiking days, basic camping facilities, and limited access to amenities. It’s a challenging journey, but one that’s worth every step. Remember, it’s not just about reaching Machu Picchu, but also about enjoying the journey along the way.

So there you have it, Tour leaders and hikers! With the right preparation and timing, your Inca Trail hike could be the adventure of a lifetime. All that’s left is to lace up your hiking boots and start planning your epic journey. Safe travels!


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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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