Does it snow in Machu Picchu? Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site tucked away in Peru and is a true gem.
The Incas used their craftsmanship skills from 1450 to 1532 AD to create this amazing marvel.
Fast forward to today, and this place attracts millions of visitors annually. But, those traveling for the first time always ask, “Does Machu Picchu get snow?”
Yes, Machu Picchu does get some snow, but not enough to make it suitable for winter sports; Still, it offers unique opportunities to explore in pleasant weather.
More about the Climate of Machu Picchu
Located at latitude 13º7′ South and longitude 72º34′ West, Machu Picchu is situated at a lofty elevation of 2,350 meters (7,710 feet) above sea level.
Machu Picchu is located in a subtropical zone with lots of dense forests, which gives it a nice, warm, and humid climate.
Throughout the year, the average temperature hovers around 55°F during the day.
How Many Seasons Are in Machu Picchu?
The region has two different seasons:
- The rainy season soaks the land from November to March.
- The dry season brings hotter temperatures from April to October.
There is not a huge variation in temperature throughout the year, making it an exciting tourist destination.
Here is a bit about the temperature range in the area.
|Month||Temperature Range (F)|
|Jan||46F to 62F|
|Feb||46F to 61F|
|Mar||46F to 62F|
|April||46F to 62F|
|May||45F to 63F|
|Jun||44F to 63F|
|Jul||43F to 65F|
|Aug||44F to 66F|
|Sep||46F to 67F|
|Oct||46F to 66|
|Nov||47F to 66F|
|Dec||47 to 63F|
Fact: The dry season is especially popular with travelers who are eager to explore the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.
Does it Snow in Machu Picchu?
Sure thing, Machu Picchu does see some snowfall, but it is definitely not something you see every day.
Located in the Andes Mountains, famous for their cold weather, Machu Picchu has a one-of-a-kind location.
It is actually located at a lower elevation compared to many other Andean spots.
This, along with its closeness to the Equator, means that Machu Picchu has a pretty mild climate compared to the other mountains around.
Although it rains frequently, snowfall is not a common occurrence.
Fact: If you really want to see snow, you are more likely to see it on the mountaintops surrounding the ruins rather than covering the ruins themselves.
Has It Ever Snowed in Machu Picchu?
Yes, snow can occasionally show up in Machu Picchu, but it is a really rare sight.
It is important to keep in mind that as it is in the Southern Hemisphere, Machu Picchu’s winters (from June to September) might give you a shiver, unlike those North American or European winters.
Although snow is not common right near Machu Picchu, do not be too surprised if it snows in the nearby area.
If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu and snow is something you are considering, targeting late September or early October would be a smart choice.
How Cold Does It Get in Machu Picchu?
When planning a trip to Machu Picchu, it is natural to be concerned about how cold the area is likely to get. This helps you plan your trip accordingly.
Here is a bit more to help you with this:
|Season||Months||Avg. Temperatures||Weather and Characteristics|
|Summer||Dec to Feb||68F to 77F||In the rainiest period, evenings can be cool, remember a sweater or jacket|
|Transitional spring||Mar to May||68F to 77F||Dry and mild weather, comfortable temperatures|
|Winter||Jun to Aug||59F to 64F||Least rainfall, mild winter, comfortable temperatures|
Understanding the Reasons Why Snow is So Rare in Machu Picchu
Located in the beautiful Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is famous for its incredible archaeological site, fascinating history, and stunning views.
Although it is a place of wonder and fascination, one natural phenomenon that is pretty uncommon in this area is snowfall.
Here are some possible explanations for this:
The geographical location of Machu Picchu plays a big role in why it does not get much snow.
Located at a latitude of approximately 13 degrees south of the equator, the place is closer to the tropics, where warm temperatures usually dominate.
Moreover, the surrounding landscape is known for its abundant vegetation, deep valleys, and steep mountains.
The geographic features help create an environment that generally does not support significant snow buildup.
The tropical climate in the region is another big reason why it hardly ever snows in Machu Picchu.
It gets wet and dry seasons mainly due to:
The wet season is all about getting lots of rain instead of snow. This happens because it is still pretty warm, even up in the mountains.
This hot weather stops the right conditions for making snow from happening.
Temperature and Altitude
In order for snow to form, temperatures need to stay consistently below freezing (0°C or 32°F).
Although Machu Picchu’s is at a good elevation, it is still pretty low for getting regular snowfall.
Snow is more likely to occur at higher elevations, where temperatures are consistently colder.
Fact: The Andean mountains, which are at much higher elevations, get snow more often because it is colder up there.
Rain Shadow Effect
The rain shadow effect occurs when mountains block the moist air, making snow even harder to fall in Machu Picchu.
The eastward prevailing winds bring in air full of moisture from the Amazon rainforest.
As this air goes up the eastern slopes of the Andes, it gets cooler and lets out moisture in the form of rain.
By the time the air comes down the western slopes, it loses a lot of its moisture, which makes the weather drier and causes less snow to fall on the western side.
El Nino and La Nina Phenomena
The El Niño and La Niña phenomena have a big impact on the weather patterns in the region.
El Niño is known for warming up the waters of the Pacific Ocean. It typically brings more rainfall to the western coast of South America, including Peru.
However, even when El Niño events occur, the temperatures at Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas stay pretty warm, which stops the necessary conditions for snow from happening.
La Niña, on the other hand, is known for cooler Pacific Ocean waters, which can potentially cause cooler temperatures. But stil, it usually does not bring a lot of snow at this altitude.
Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
You are going to have a lot of fun visiting Machu Picchu in May and October.
On both sides of the main tourist season from June to August, you will experience quieter trails. But, the weather is perfect for hiking the Inca Trail with lots of sunny, gorgeous days.
Also, September is a great time to visit the area.
The weather is fantastic, the landscapes are lush and green, it is less crowded, and everything is more affordable.
Plus, this is one of the best times to go climb some of the mountains at Machu Picchu.
Fact: In September, bring sunscreen (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses), bug spray, and lots of water, and as the nights are chilly, make sure to bring some cozy clothes.
Things to Do and Explore in Machu Picchu
No matter when you travel to Machu Picchu, you will have plenty of opportunities to keep you entertained.
|What to Do||Description|
|Explore Temple of the Three Windows||It is a highly respected site in Machu Picchu, which pays tribute to the sun god and attracts visitors with its magnificent beauty.|
|Go to the Temple of the Moon||A smaller moon temple at Machu Picchu offering a unique experience.|
|Try the Intihuatana Stone||A huge stone utilized by the Incas to foretell celestial movements.|
|Explore the Inca Bridge||A truly amazing bridge constructed by the Incas that stretches across a deep valley, demonstrating incredible engineering skills.|
|Enjoy hiking||Explore a bunch of trails around Machu Picchu, like the famous Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, and Lares Trek, that offer different levels of adventure.|
Does it snow in Machu Picchu? In short, it does rain in Machu Picchu, but it is extremely rare.
The area is not known for its winter sports activities, such as skiing or snowboarding.
Yet, there is a lot to see and do for those who want a glimpse into the history.
The weather stays rather mild through the year, so you can plan a trip whenever you like.