Machu Picchu in May: Weather, Pros and Cons

Machu Picchu in May

When visiting Machu Picchu, it’s imperative to shield yourself from the intensifying sun, as the site offers limited shade. While exploring the Incan marvel amidst growing crowds, lightweight clothing like shorts and t-shirts may be preferable. However, for the evenings and early mornings, a cozy fleece and under-layer are indispensable to ward off the chill.

Despite clearer skies, it’s not uncommon for Machu Picchu to be veiled in mist during the early morning hours. Consequently, viewpoints like the Sun Gate or Wayna Picchu may not offer the anticipated sweeping vistas at dawn.


In May, Machu Picchu and its surrounding areas experience a delightful transition towards brighter days and cooler nights. The Cusco region sees highs around 66°F (19°C) and lows around 37°F (3°C). This month exhibits a temperature range of 9°F (4°C) between daytime highs and nighttime lows, necessitating packing for both warm days and chilly nights.

Read: Best time to visit Machu Picchu.

Places to Visit in Cusco - Machu Picchu

Navigating Crowds and Costs

May heralds better conditions for outdoor activities and a series of captivating festivals. This, coupled with the shift from shoulder season to high season for visitors from North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, leads to a notable increase in crowds compared to other months. While June through August remains the peak months, May follows closely behind in popularity.

However, the early-to-mid-May period still constitutes shoulder season, ensuring that crowds are considerably thinner compared to the bustling months of June through August. Consequently, securing lower rates for accommodations and activities is more attainable in the earlier part of the month.


  1. Ideal Weather: Brighter days and cooler nights offer a comfortable climate for exploration.
  2. Less Crowded (Early May): The shoulder season means fewer crowds and potential cost savings.
  3. Thriving Flora and Fauna: May showcases lush greenery and flourishing plants and flowers.
  4. Unique Festivals: Experience culturally rich, lesser-known festivals in the Sacred Valley.
  5. Hiking Opportunities: May provides clear paths and stunning vistas for hikers.
  6. Wildlife Sightings: Falling water levels increase chances of spotting wildlife along riverbanks and from canopy platforms.
  7. Rafting Adventure (Early May): Prime time for rafting the Río Apurímac before water levels drop.


  1. Potential Morning Mist: Machu Picchu may be shrouded in mist during the early morning, limiting views.
  2. Increasing Crowds (Late May): Visitor numbers rise towards the end of the month.
  3. Limited Water Tributaries for Canoeing: May marks the last month for navigating many jungle tributaries by canoe.
  4. Cooler Evenings and Mornings: Nights and early mornings can be chilly, requiring layered clothing.
  5. Potential Higher Costs (Late May): Rates for accommodations and activities may rise as the month progresses.
  6. Limited Monkey Sightings (Post-May): Drying tributaries reduce opportunities for observing monkeys along the riverbanks.

Where to Explore in May

May is an ideal month for outdoor enthusiasts, with many of the lesser-known Incan sites in the Sacred Valley, such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Moray, still offering a relatively crowd-free experience. Simultaneously, the local communities come alive with vibrant festivities. Cusco, a perennial hub of activity, hosts its Vigil of the Crosses, while the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo boast their own unique festivals, rendering them particularly inviting to visitors.

Exciting Activities for May

As the likelihood of rainfall continues to dwindle compared to previous months, hiking gains even more popularity in the Sacred Valley. The allure of hikes to significant Incan ruins like Moray near Maras is particularly enticing at this time.

May presents a splendid season for wildlife enthusiasts. The Sacred Valley adorns itself in lush greenery, with flora and fauna flourishing after the wet season rains. For those keen on observing mammals and birds, this is an auspicious time. If your itinerary includes a visit to the lower jungle before or after Machu Picchu, the diminishing water levels translate to increased animal sightings on the riverbanks. Moreover, birds become more visible from canopy viewing platforms, relishing the sun’s warmth.

Noteworthy May Events

While May may not feature the grandeur of next month’s Inti Raymi (Inca Festival of the Sun) celebrations, it boasts several lesser-known festivities, especially in the smaller towns of the Sacred Valley.

  • Vigil of the Crucifixes: Held on May 2 or May 3, this event involves a crucifix vigil atop all hills in the Cusco area adorned with crosses.
  • San Isidro Labrador: Commencing on May 15 in Pisac, this festival celebrates the saint. The festivities include costumed processions, specially adorned cows, and an abundance of music, dance, and feasting.
  • Q’oylluriti: This celebration, akin to Inti Raymi but less known, pays homage to the Inca Festival of the Sun in the traditional Andean manner. It takes place at Ausangate on the Tuesday before Corpus Christi, typically in late May or early June.
  • Señor de Choquechilca: Ollantaytambo’s paramount festival occurs in late May, commemorating the miraculous appearance of a wooden cross near the town’s Inca Bridge. This event is celebrated with fervor, featuring extensive music, dance, and processions.

Read: Best things to do in Cusco.

Helpful Information

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *