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xiao83 Dec 3rd, 2016 12:38 AM

Machu Picchu in January
Had to repost in the Peru subforum, because I didn't realise it existed and couldn't move the original post...

I have a few weeks free in January and am thinking of heading to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia for some photography.

Trouble is, it's the rainy season, and my main objective is landscape photography. Rain doesn't bother me (especially if it's the usual short periods of heavy rain every afternoon, like the wet season in most places) but overcast skies are awful and sometimes render an entire trip wasted for photography. What are the chances of of the sky not being overcast at Machu Picchu in January (some clouds are fine, just not a solid sheet of grey)? Are the odds good, or should I just go elsewhere and come back in May?

Also, in terms of shooting the sun hitting Machu Picchu, do I have to get there at sunrise for that (i.e. taking the Inca Trail and going past the Sun Gate to be at the ruins when the sun rises) or does the sun only rise above the surrounding mountains much later than that?

South America's pretty much on the other side of the planet for me, so gambling on the weather isn't something I'd do unless the odds are good.

crellston Dec 3rd, 2016 02:29 AM

I wouldn't say the odds are good. January sees good weather on the coast of Peru but it is the rainy season in the Andean highlands an extract from

’This is the wet season with most rain in January and February. It's usually clear and dry most mornings with outbursts of heavy rain in the afternoons. The daily temperatures are typically mild with only a small drop at night.”

It is a gamble but you might catch a break, especially in these days of global warming. It also may be a lot greener at that time

You have to be lucky to catch the sun at MP . We visited in the high season had fog until 9-10am. Still very atmospheric though. The inca trail usually closes in Feb , not sure about January.

Salar de Uyuni may be a good bet in January when it is flooded to catch the reflections when the Salar is flooded.

xiao83 Dec 3rd, 2016 09:56 AM


I'm wondering what to make of the 'clear and dry' most mornings. Certainly, most rain would be in the afternoons - does 'clear and dry' refer to blue skies and few clouds in the mornings, or just minimal fog and no rain, with an overcast sky?

I've heard that there is often less fog during the rainy season - is that correct?

What are mornings like during the rainy season? Mostly overcast, mostly clear, or something in between? Do you tend to get lots of gaps where the sun shines through?

Either way, regardless of the time of the year, I'm thinking I should schedule 2 nights in Aguas Calientes in order to have a backup day in case of adverse cloud cover, and just head back to Cusco for an extra day if I get good conditions on the first day.


crellston Dec 3rd, 2016 11:45 AM

To me, clear and dry means blue skies with a little could ; but this is the Andes and it is not an exact science. You could be lucky, maybe not. if you want any certainty, go May-sept. two nights in AC gives you possibly two dawns in MP. again, you may be lucky, but there are no guarantees.

You will need to buy entrance tickets for MP both days, although in low season you may be able to buy on the spot.

There is a reason there are high and low seasons and that is largely down to the weather. There is no getting away from the fact that this is not the best time to be in the Andes. Have you considered SE Asia?

mlgb Dec 3rd, 2016 12:21 PM

I don't think you will see obscure heavy fog in January. The big risk is an afternoon or even day of solid rain. The weather does vary each year. My first trip was in January and we had the atmospheric clouds in the mornning, followed by clearing, then rain starting at 1 pm. (The following year the train tracks washed away). I was able to watch the weather online and go on a day when it was not supposed to rain all day. You can probably stay in Ollantaytambo and buy train tickets a day ahead, and entry tickets the same day. If you are going after New Years another good reason to go is fewer people at the site especially first thing in the morning. I wouldn't expect to see sunrise.

xiao83 Dec 3rd, 2016 07:11 PM

Fair enough.

When it's not raining during the wet season, do you tend to get patches of blue sky and sun coming between the clouds? Or is it more a solid, grey ceiling? What was it like when you were there?

mlgb Dec 4th, 2016 06:13 AM

In between storms there was clear weather.

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