Best time to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco

Inca Trail High Season in Machu Picchu and Cusco

One of the most popular trails in the world offers you stunning landscapes, natural beauties and ancient civilization’s ruins

Best time: April–October

Inca Trail High Season
Inca Trail High Season

This amazing trail leads you through kilometers and kilometers of history and culture, usually ending up at Machu Picchu, probably the most popular destination on this journey. Actually there are several Inca trails that lead to the Sun Gate of the ancient sacred complex. They differ by the level of complexity and length, and, unfortunately, you have to book your permit to get there in advance - half a year in beforehand would be the best timing.

The Classic Trail is hard but manageable. It takes four to five days from Sacred Valley to a final destination point. It definitely challenges even those who consider themselves professional hikers, especially on a segment called Dead Woman's Pass. Its crests lie on 4,200 metres above the sea level and they resemble a supine female's body. Even though you may get some sweat from a physical load, most of the visitors can make it.

The Short Trail is the easiest one. It starts much closer to Machu Picchu than the Classic Trail and it can be managed in two days of hiking. Mostly following the Urubamba River the path doesn't climb higher than 2,700 metres. Choose this option if you lack enough time or you doubt your health abilities.

The final option is a prolonged Classic Trail. You firstly walk around the gorgeous snowy mount Salkantay. This trek is not only the longest, as it requires six to seven days, but is also the hardest, as the altitude reaches about 4,900 meters.

Despite the Trail you choose, keep in mind that in February they are closed for cleaning. But in general, the best time to visit Inca Trails is in April and May or September and October, when the weather is comfortable, crowds are bearable, and you can be sure to book your permit for hiking.

No matter when you go, mind that nights are pretty cold, so bring some warm, good quality sleeping bags.

Practical info

When should you hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Cusco?

The recommended time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Cusco is from April to May or September to October. These months provide the best weather conditions and fewer crowds for hikers. It's crucial to note that permits for the trail must be obtained at least six months in advance. Show more

What is the starting point for the Short Trail?

Starting much closer to Machu Picchu than the Classic Trail, the Short Trail is the easiest trail and takes two days to complete. Its starting point is at Kilometer 104, about a two-hour train ride from Cusco. The trail follows the Urubamba River and climbs to an elevation of no more than 2,700 meters. Show more

Which segment is the most challenging on the Classic Trail?

The Classic Trail to Machu Picchu is demanding, with the toughest section being Dead Woman's Pass. This steep ascent leads to a crest at 4,200 meters in altitude. Professional hikers can manage this trail, which takes four to five days from Sacred Valley to the final destination. The trail provides stunning landscapes, ancient ruins, and natural beauty. Show more

What is the highest point on the extended Classic Trail?

The prolonged Classic Trail to Machu Picchu is the longest, taking six to seven days to complete, with the highest point reaching approximately 4,900 meters. This trail leads around the stunning snow-capped Mount Salkantay and is recommended for only experienced and physically fit hikers. Note that the trails close for cleaning every February. Show more

When should you book a permit for the Inca Trail?

It's required to book a permit in advance to hike the Inca Trails in Machu Picchu and Cusco. The ideal timeline is a minimum of six months before the departure date. The Peruvian government limits the number of hikers each day, and the trails fill quickly due to massive popularity. Booking well in advance is crucial to secure a spot. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin