The Inca Trail in Peru is a world-renowned trek that offers hikers a unique opportunity to experience the ancient ruins of the Inca civilization while immersing themselves in breathtaking natural landscapes. However, if you’re considering hiking the Inca Trail in February, there are some important factors to take into account. This blog post will provide you with objective information about why it is not possible to hike the Inca Trail in February, as well as some alternative options and recommendations for your trekking adventure.
Is the Inca trail open in February?
The answer is no, Inca trail to Machu Picchu is closed in February for maintenance, and as well not recommended any hikes in Cusco this month is the heaviest rainy season you could have rain every day and this is dangerous in the Andes mountains, but if you still want to travel in this month Machu Picchu is open all the alternative treks only the classic Inca trail is closed as well is a perfect month to book for the following months!
Read: Is Machu Picchu Closed?
Things to Know
Before embarking on any hiking adventure, it’s crucial to gather all the necessary information to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential details to keep in mind regarding the Inca Trail in February:
- Closure: The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance every February. This closure allows for necessary repairs and restoration work to be carried out on the trail, ensuring its preservation for future generations of hikers.
- Alternative treks: While the Inca Trail itself is closed, there are alternative treks available in the region that offer equally stunning landscapes and cultural experiences. Some popular alternatives include the Salkantay Trek, the Lares Trek, and the Choquequirao Trek.
- Permits: If you plan to hike the Inca Trail, permits are required regardless of the time of year. These permits are limited and highly sought after, so it’s important to book well in advance to secure your spot on the trail.
Why Hike Inca Trail in February (Pros)
Although the Inca Trail is closed in February, there are still some advantages to visiting the region during this time. Here are a few reasons why you might consider hiking in the surrounding areas:
- Lower crowds: Since the Inca Trail is closed, the overall number of tourists in the region decreases significantly in February. This means you can enjoy a more tranquil and peaceful experience while exploring alternative treks. Check out our Machu Picchu 2-Day tour from Cusco.
- Lush greenery: February marks the end of the rainy season in Peru, resulting in lush vegetation along the trekking routes. The landscape is vibrant and alive, with blooming flowers and cascading waterfalls creating a picturesque backdrop.
- Cultural festivities: Cusco, the gateway city to the Inca Trail, celebrates the annual Carnaval during February. This vibrant festival showcases traditional dances, parades, and colorful costumes, providing a unique cultural experience for visitors you can be part of it.
Why Not Hike Inca Trail in February (Cons)
While there are some advantages to visiting the region in February, there are also significant challenges and reasons why the Inca Trail itself is closed during this time. Here are a few cons to consider:
- Weather conditions: February is part of the rainy season in Peru, and hiking during this time can result in heavy rainfall and increased chances of mudslides or landslides. These conditions can make the trails unsafe and hinder the overall hiking experience.
- Trail maintenance: The closure of the Inca Trail in February allows for essential maintenance work to be conducted. This ensures that the trail remains in good condition for hikers throughout the rest of the year. The maintenance work helps preserve the trail’s integrity and minimize the impact of heavy foot traffic.
- Limited accessibility: Due to the trail closure, it is not possible to hike the Inca Trail itself in February. This can be disappointing for those who specifically planned their trip to experience this iconic trek. However, alternative treks offer equally rewarding experiences.
Weather in February
The weather in Peru especially in Cusco during February can be unpredictable. While the rainy season is in the middle you may have showers. The temperatures can vary, with daytime temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) and nighttime temperatures dropping to around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s important to be prepared for varying weather conditions by packing appropriate clothing and gear such as waterproof jackets, sturdy hiking boots, and quick-drying layers.
Best alternative trek to Inca Trail
When it comes to alternative treks to the Inca Trail, there are several remarkable options that showcase the beauty of the region and offer unique trekking experiences. Here are three popular alternatives to consider:
- Salkantay Trek: The Salkantay Trek is one of the most famous alternative routes to Machu Picchu after the Inca Trail. This trek takes you through diverse landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and cloud forests. The highlight of the Salkantay Trek is reaching the Salkantay Pass, which stands at an impressive elevation of 4,650 meters (15,091 feet). Along the way, you’ll witness breathtaking scenery, encounter local communities, and have the chance to spot diverse flora and fauna. Check out our Salkantay Trek 5 Days.
- Lares Trek: The Lares Trek offers a unique cultural experience combined with scenic mountain views. This trek takes you through traditional Andean villages where you can interact with local communities and learn about their customs and way of life. You’ll pass through beautiful valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and stunning mountain landscapes. The Lares Trek also includes a visit to the renowned hot springs of Lares, where you can relax and rejuvenate after days of trekking. Check our Classic Lares Trek 4 Days.
- Choquequirao Trek: For those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, the Choquequirao Trek is an excellent choice. This trek takes you to the ancient ruins of Choquequirao, often referred to as the “sister city” of Machu Picchu. The trail offers a challenging but rewarding journey through remote and untouched landscapes. The highlight of the trek is exploring the impressive archaeological site of Choquequirao, which features terraces, temples, and intricate stone structures.
If you plan to visit Peru and explore the region in February, here are some recommendations to make the most of your trekking experience:
- Choose alternative treks: Since the Inca Trail is closed, consider exploring alternative treks that are available during this time. The Salkantay Trek offers breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, while the Lares Trek takes you through traditional Andean villages. Research and select a trek that aligns with your preferences and fitness level.
- Check the weather forecast: Stay updated on the weather conditions before your trek. Keep in mind that you will hike in the rainy season and you will have rainfall most of the days. Knowing the forecast will help you pack accordingly and make any necessary adjustments to your itinerary.
- Book in advance: If you plan to hike alternative treks in February, it’s still important to book in advance, especially for popular routes.
- Prepare for the terrain: Research the terrain and difficulty level of your chosen trek. Some alternative treks may have steep ascents, muddy or challenging sections.
February Events in Cusco
Although you won’t be able to hike the Inca Trail in February, it’s an excellent opportunity to explore the cultural festivities in Cusco. The annual Carnaval celebration takes place during this month, offering a vibrant and energetic experience. Join in the festivities and witness traditional dances, lively parades, and colorful costumes as the city comes alive with music and laughter. Immerse yourself in the local culture and create unforgettable memories during this joyous celebration.
In conclusion, while it’s impossible to hike the Inca Trail itself in February due to its closure, there are still plenty of reasons to visit the region. Enjoy the lower crowds, lush greenery, and cultural festivities in Cusco. Consider exploring alternative treks that offer equally stunning landscapes and cultural experiences but in case you don’t want to hike in the rain try to book your tour after April.