Does it snow in Machu Picchu?

machu picchu with a little snow on a wall

The short answer to this question is yes. Although it may be surprising, the ruins of Machu Picchu can be covered with a little snow and highlight, even more, its magical atmosphere full of mysticism.

But, when this happens, it is usually just a light layer of snow that melts quickly. However, there have been occasions when the snow has covered the entire area and has remained for days to the delight of travelers.

If you want to know when to travel to Machu Picchu to enjoy a humid and slightly snowy climate in Machu Picchu, do not miss the information we have prepared for you in this article.

What is the cause of this phenomenon?

In general, the climate in Cuzco is temperate and dry, but experiences a wet season with heavy rains from November to March. During this time, snowfall is possible in the mountains of the area, including Machu Picchu.

In essence, the amount of snow that forms on the mountains of Machu Picchu depends on two main factors:

  • The height of the mountain.
  • Air temperature.

The height of the mountain affects the amount of snow that forms on the ruins. In this sense, the higher mountains in the Machu Picchu area are more likely to have snow due to the colder temperature at the higher altitudes.

Likewise, snow is more likely to form in the mountains during the wet season, when precipitation is more frequent.

As a curious fact, this phenomenon also took place thousands of years ago, so snowfalls in Cuzco and Machu Picchu have been an important natural phenomenon that has influenced the lives of its inhabitants and the culture of the area.

According to a study published in the Journal of South American Archaeology in 2008, evidence of snowfall was found in the Machu Picchu area some 20,000 years ago. During this period, the area was wetter than today and it is likely that snowfalls were more frequent.

When is the best time to travel to enjoy the snow in Machu Picchu?

Since Machu Picchu’s climate is tropical mountain climate, it is characterized by a wet season and a dry season, with heavy rains during the wet season from January to March. During the dry season, temperatures are warmer and rainfall is lighter and less frequent.

As we mentioned before, the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu are covered with snow during the winter. However, in the course of the dry season, this snow gradually melts until it is completely removed.

Therefore, the season with the most opportunities to see snow in Machu Picchu is during the wet season from January to March, although there can be snow in the mountains at any time of the year, but on a smaller scale.

Although snow formation is not as common in Machu Picchu as it is in other parts of the world, the tropical mountain climate of the surrounding area makes snow formation less likely. However, when snow does appear on the mountains, it becomes a great attraction for tourists who decide to visit the Inca citadel during this season.

What is the weather like during this time?

If you want to make your trip to Machu Picchu in this season to see some snow and take spectacular pictures, it is important to know the temperatures, so you can make your stopover well prepared.

So, you should know that Cuzco is located at an altitude of more than 3,300 meters above sea level, so it is colder than the coastal areas of Peru. Therefore, the temperature can drop below 0 degrees Celsius during the snowy season in the mountains.

In addition, during the day the weather can be sunny and warm, while temperatures usually drop at night, so you will need to be well wrapped up. Thus, throughout the day the temperature ranges between 12ºC and 24ºC.

In summary, the best time to see snowfall in Cuzco is during the wet season, from December or January to March.

However, keep in mind that the probability of snow in Cuzco and Machu Picchu is quite low compared to other regions of Peru, and that the amount of snow that can be seen in a specific season varies.

Recommendations if you wish to travel to the citadel in the winter season

Traveling to Machu Picchu during the snowy season can be a unique and exciting experience. However, it is also important to take some precautions to ensure your safety and enjoyment. Here are some travel recommendations:

  • Plan your trip in advance: Be sure to book your airline tickets and accommodations well in advance. It is also important to book your excursions in advance (two or more months in advance) to ensure you have a place on the tours.
  • Find out what the weather is like at this time of year: This will help you prepare appropriate attire and plan outdoor activities in case of heavy snow or high humidity.
  • Hike with a tour guide: although it is possible to hike the site alone, it is advisable not to do so during the snowy season, as snow and rain can make the trails slippery and dangerous.
  • Get your gear ready: Prepare your clothing, shoes and snow hiking gear. Also, be sure to carry out maps, guidebooks, first aid kit and a flashlight to look for in case weather conditions change along the way.

Final words

A snowy season trip to Machu Picchu can be a unique and exciting experience. However, it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety if you want to enjoy some snow, as snow and rain can make the routes slippery and dangerous.

So, be sure to prepare your snow equipment and enjoy an unforgettable adventure!