Machu Picchu is a dream of many people to see and for these of you who love to travel; Peru is one of the destinations at the top of most people’s list. Hiking is also a love of many travelers and one of the best hikes without a doubt is the beautiful but challenging trek to Machu Picchu. Many of you will consider what is the best month to hike to Machu Picchu, when you have holidays this maybe the best time for you, or would you consider the rainy season when there are less people hiking or the dry and the high season when the treks are more popular.
There are many things you should know before making your decision. In this article we will give, you some tips and information that could help make your decision somewhat easier.
Let us start with the rainy season this is usually from December to March although the rain does start earlier than December. These months are also consider the summer months in Cusco and Machu Picchu, although it is the rainy season this does not mean that it rains all day, the sun does come out and makes the hike a little more pleasant. If you decide to do you trek in the wet months make sure you have good quality waterproof clothing and especially boots as you don’t want to have wet feet. Also, remember the sun does come out so you will need a good hat and sunscreen. The sun is also stronger at altitude so you will burn.
The dry and high season is from April to September and this is considered winter. Although this is winter during the day while hiking it can get very warm, so remember to dress in layers. As the sun starts to set it will get cold and especially at night when temperatures can get very cold. A good warm jumper and jacket are essential. The high season can also get very busy on the treks to Machu Picchu and you may need to queue to enter the ruins. The hikes especially the Inca Trail can sometimes book out months in advance so be aware so you are not disappointed.
It is not just the weather that affects you on the trail but also the altitude, it is a great idea to spend a few days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude, it is not great idea to arrive in Cusco and start your trek the next day.
You will need some level of fitness to do any of the treks in the Cusco region. These are not easy walks, you will be climbing to high altitudes and walking down steep hills, this can sometimes be hard on your knees so be prepared. It might be a good idea to do some training before you leave home.
Be prepared for early mornings on your trek, each day you will leave camp at the crack of dawn, this is also means that you will go to bed early so don’t plan for any partying.
If you are concerned about your meals, on your trek do not be as all of the treks have porters and cooks that feed you well. You will enjoy a hearty breakfast, a three-course lunch and a large meal for dinner. All the meals consist of mostly carbohydrates to help with your energy levels. Remember while walking to take snacks in your pack for when you are feeling low on energy. You will also need to drink a lot of water, which you will need to carry with you. You can refill at lunchtime, it is important to stay hydrated.
Once in Machu Picchu you will need to have Machu Picchu tickets, both entrance and the bus tickets down to Aguas Calientes. These tickets are normally included in your hike price, so make sure you check they are included in the price.
After you enter the ruins you will have a guided tour this generally lasts around two to two and a half hours where the guide will give you all the legends and history of the site. You will also get some free time to explore on your own. There are strict laws as to where you can and cannot walk so be aware, as you will have problems with the security guards if you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing. If you are a keen photographer, the photo opportunities are many, as you will discover.
Some people decide to stay overnight and not return to Cusco the same day they finish their trek. If you decide to stay, you will need a Machu Picchu hotel. There are many choices from expensive five star hotels to budget backpacker accommodation, this you many need to book before leaving home especially in the high season.
Therefore, whenever you choose to hike to Machu Picchu, many great agencies can help you. A great guide to help you is Trip Advisor; they have many reviews on the best companies to go with. Take the time to read the reviews. If you are interested in the Inca Trail, please be aware that most years the trail is closed for the month of February.