Best time to visit Machu Picchu?

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Mar 9th, 2003, 01:31 PM
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Best time to visit Machu Picchu?

I am new to the Latin America board. I've been on the Europe board, but it's been a few years. I was hoping to get some advise on the best time of year to travel to Machu Picchu. I'm a photographer, and photographing the ruins there is a dream of mine. Thanks for any advise.
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Mar 13th, 2003, 06:04 AM
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Hi Cindra,

I do a lot of photography in Peru, and although I always make use of whatever time of the year I can get there, for your first trip here are some ideas:

January to May is the rain season (summertime-autumn in Peru), so Cusco and Machu Picchu will then have cloudy skies and overcast conditions for the most part. There are, however far less tourists running all over the place. January to March daytime temperatures are 85°F 30°C, milder nights (typically to 45°F 8°C) and plenty of rain.

From June to August, winter in Peru, days are typically sunny and warm. The temperature can drop to below freezing (27°F -3°C) at night in high camps. Rain seldom falls during winter. This time of year is considered the High Season in Peru and the time most tourists visit the area.

So, a good time would be June to September sometime around a full moon, if you are into the night shot, early morning stuff.

To visit Machu Picchu you take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, a town at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu sits atop. Buses run each morning from Aguas Calientes up to the ruins starting around 6 am (about a 20 minute bus ride). Sunrise is actually around 5-6 am so the regular tourist does not get to the ruins before sunrise. Also, the ruins are on top of the mountain, so once the sun begins to rise this area becomes light very quickly. That does however give a fairly exciting light show in the early day and late evening.

The official hours of the ruin site is 7 am to 5 pm, but at the entrance gate you can also buy a special pass for visiting the ruins at night.

No camping is allowed at he ruins itself so to be there for the very early morning experience you would have to leave your Agas Calientes hotel about 3-4 am and hike to the ruins (before you do this make sure you will be able to gain entrance to the ruins when you get there, check with the main gate entrance the day before you do this). Or you can stay at the hotel that is next to Machu Picchu, the Machu Picchu Ruinas, but the cost for this hotel is something like 250$ per night (and reservations have to be made months in advance for stays during the tourist season).

June 24 is what is called the Inti Raymi festival time for Cusco and Machu Picchu. Tens of thousands of tourists will show up for this event and it can be a really cool experience for a photographer. The festival includes special events in Cusco, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, and at Machu Picchu. If you decide to visit during this time, make all you arrangements well ahead of time (hotel/hostel, train tickets, etc.) as by the time April come there will hardly be a place to stay in cusco left.

I will be in Cusco and Machu Picchu the first week of April, so I will let you know what the current conditions are like (every year it is always different, and my Karma seems to bring clear skies when I visit Peruvian ruin sites).

Hope this helps,
There is a bunch of info about Peru at www.peruperu.com and some of my personal travel stories are at www.expphoto.com (have to get more time to write more stuff!)

Have a great trip and let me know how it goes!
Dav
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