January is a good month to travel to the sanctuary of Machu Picchu as long as you want to avoid the crowds of tourists because in this month the travel season drops considerably due to the rains.
This time I will tell you the best reasons why it is worth visiting Machu Picchu in January, and everything you should know before traveling to the sanctuary safely and without inconveniences in this month of the year.
January: is it a good time to visit Machu Picchu?
Generally, rainy weather means that we will find a lot of mud, slippery ground and humidity on the trail, so trekking is not ideal. However, with the arrival of the rain, there is also lush vegetation to enjoy during the tour of the archaeological site.
In this sense, you will see how the trails, the valley and the surrounding mountains look spectacularly green. In addition, we must consider that, although January is a rainy month, it does not rain every day, so, we can visit the Inca City with a radiant sun on some days.
However, another advantage of visiting Machu Picchu in January is that it is low-season for tourists and travelers, which means that we will find fewer crowds and lower rates for lodging and transportation.
What is the weather like in January?
First of all, during the month of January in Cusco the weather is more cloudy, which could affect the visibility of the panoramic views. Unless, as I mentioned before, you can climb Machu Picchu on a sunny day, where these conditions are not a problem.
On the other hand, average daytime temperatures hover around 19° C, while average nighttime temperatures are around 5 to 9°C. Rainfall is intermittent throughout the month, with an average of 16 rainy days in January.
As we can see, temperatures do not vary much between day and night, making it one of the low-season months with climatic conditions with less temperature variation throughout Cusco, especially in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
Another aspect that you should consider is that rains often cause landslides, which could delay or temporarily prevent the passage of trains to Machu Picchu, and some flights from Lima to Cusco.
Rains usually occur during the afternoon, so I recommend booking your flight in the morning to avoid inconveniences, delays or last-minute cancellations. On the other hand, keep in mind that the weather in January in Machu Picchu can change drastically in minutes, so it is important to consider all possible alternatives and be prepared.
What to wear for Machu Picchu in January?
As temperatures fluctuate a little during this month, it is important to bring comfortable and appropriate clothing to adapt to these temperatures. So, consider the following aspects of what to wear to Machu Picchu and other items you will need to bring in your suitcase:
- Warm clothing for the night: temperatures can drop quite a bit, so it is important to bring warm clothing such as a sweater or jacket.
- Light and breathable clothes for the day, as temperatures could rise a bit, but without getting hot. In this case, I recommend wearing clothing that allows you to add or remove layers, such as a zippered sweatshirt, to adapt to temperature fluctuations.
- Be sure to bring comfortable, but sturdy footwear for walking the trails and the sanctuary. Sneakers designed for hiking are an excellent choice.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen! Also, a hat or cap, since, at some times the sunrise comes with intense solar radiation.
- Add a raincoat to your suitcase as well. It will be very useful when it rains and you don’t want to miss out on the fun of walking around the area.
- Lastly, add basic essentials, such as a water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, and any medications you may need, and don’t forget to use dry bags to protect your cell phone or device from the humidity and rain!
How crowded is it during the month of January?
As I indicated above, one of the advantages of traveling to Machu Picchu in January is that it offers incredibly cheap deals and discounts on hotels, tours, and other popular activities in the Sacred Valley.
In addition, it is a great opportunity that we should take advantage of before the Inca Trail closes in February, and after the wave of tourists at Christmas and New Year. In fact, some tour agencies tend to lower their prices on some of the most exciting activities.
It is worth it, as we will also find the trails much quieter compared to other seasons of the year, especially during the summer, when we see tourists in every corner.
Recommendations for visiting Machu Picchu in January
Although it is not the best month for hiking, it is still possible to hike in the sanctuary if we take some precautions. Also, January is a great month for rafting, as the water levels in the rivers are much higher and class IV rapids.
Likewise, it is a great opportunity to get close to the edges of the Cusco jungle to get the best views of animals and birds in the canopy, which are much better than when we are on the river. Also, if you are a great photographer, you will love to see the rising clouds to capture stunning images.
On the other hand, if you are passionate about botany or want to discover new plant species, you will see many endemic flora specimens in the surroundings of the archaeological site, which bring a greater richness of tonalities to the sanctuary.
However, you can also do other activities that do not depend on the weather, such as visiting museums, enjoying its rich and exquisite gastronomy, and more. In fact, in January you can spend much more time by the park’s flames!
Finally, you should take note of the following: if you wish to travel by train from Cusco to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes train station) this month, services from Cusco’s Poroy train station will not be operating.
In this case, you will be taken by bus for the Cusco-Ollantaytambo section and continue by train to Aguas Calientes from there. Although it is necessary to make this transfer, it is worth it in the end.
Another factor to consider is that statistics indicate that landslides usually occur in the last two weeks of the month, so I recommend you make your trip in the first two weeks of January.
As for the best time to visit Machu Picchu in January is from 9am to 1pm, preferably after 10 am, since early in the morning the sky is very cloudy and you can not appreciate Machu Picchu in all its splendor. Remember that in the afternoon it usually rains a lot!
In closing, if you are prepared for rainy conditions and are looking to avoid the crowds, January may be a good time to visit Machu Picchu. But, if you prefer drier, more predictable conditions, you may want to consider visiting at another time of year.