Machu Picchu in December: Weather, Pros and Cons

Machu Picchu in December

December is a captivating time to visit Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The month is marked by vibrant Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, drawing both local Peruvian visitors and international travelers. A significant highlight is the renowned “Santurantikuy” fair, translating to “holy purchase,” which stands as one of the largest craft fairs in the Andes. In this guide, we delve into the weather, crowds, activities, and events that define a December journey to Machu Picchu.

Weather

The temperature range in December is relatively narrow, with highs hovering around 20°C (68°F) and lows at approximately 7°C (45°F). This month witnesses the peak of rainfall in the Andean region. However, interruptions in the rains are a common occurrence. Typically, heavy rains manifest in the afternoons, while mornings remain relatively dry. The rain, far from being a deterrent, brings forth a vivid tapestry of colors, transforming the landscape into a lush green expanse. It’s a spectacle to behold, offering a unique and captivating experience.

Read: Best time to visit Machu Picchu.

Crowds and Costs

The early days of December see lower tourist numbers due to the wet weather. However, as the month progresses towards the Christmas vacation season, crowds begin to swell. A local custom entails people from various parts of the Cusco region converging on the city and small towns of the Sacred Valley to reunite with family and friends. With strategic planning, it’s still possible to enjoy favorable weather without being engulfed by throngs of fellow travelers. However, lack of preparation might result in sharing your experience with hordes of tourists amidst continuous rainfall.

Hiking the Inca Trail

For enthusiasts considering the Inca Trail hike in December, exercise utmost caution. The rocks can be exceptionally slippery post-rainfall, potentially posing hazards, especially on precarious descents. Safety should always take precedence over ambition, and if conditions appear treacherous, it’s advisable to opt for alternative trails or activities.

Read more at: Inca Trail in December

Exploring Cusco

Cusco beckons with a plethora of activities in December. Commencing with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the month’s onset, and culminating in a vibrant craft fair and New Year’s celebrations, the city pulsates with cultural richness. Given the weather constraints, it’s an opportune time to immerse yourself in the local culture and heritage.

Activities

While persistent rain may deter multi-day treks, there’s no shortage of remarkable day walks to embark on. The increased river flow due to rainfall transforms rafting into an exhilarating adventure, especially around Cusco. For adrenaline-seekers, the end of the month offers class IV rapids for an adrenaline-pumping experience. Nature enthusiasts are in for a treat, as December sees a profusion of blooming flowers, including enchanting orchids around Machu Picchu.

Important Travel Advisory

A crucial note for travelers planning to journey by train from Cusco to Machu Picchu: Starting January, the services at the Poroy train station in Cusco will be discontinued. Instead, you will be transported by bus for the Cusco-Ollantaytambo leg, continuing the journey by train to Aguas Calientes from there. Be sure to factor this into your travel plans.

December Events

  1. Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8): This celebration, marked by processions in honor of the Virgin Mary, is a significant event, particularly in Cusco but also observed in other regions.
  2. Santurantikuy Fair (December 24): One of Peru’s largest handicraft fairs, it unfolds in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. It revolves around religious figures and decorations that adorn Peruvian homes, offering a unique opportunity to acquire distinctive souvenirs.
  3. Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations: While Christmas is relatively low-key by Peruvian standards, Cusco’s New Year’s revelries are renowned nationwide. The city’s splendid backdrop, illuminated by a profusion of fireworks, beckons revelers from far and wide.

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