Useful tips to know when visiting Cusco region – Perú

Weather/Temperature

Here in the highlands, May through October is the ‘Dry’ season and November through to April is the ‘Wet’ season.  Temperatures range from 68°F to 77°F (20°C-25°C) during the dry season and 64°F to 68°F (18°C-20°C) during the wet season with temperatures dropping to 50°F to 59°F (10°C – 15°C) at night.

January and February are the wettest months with clouds usually building over the day and producing downpours in the afternoon/night.  During this time the valley is prone to landslides which can make travelling from one place to another sometimes impassable.

Important: The Sun can be quite intense at altitude throughout the whole year so it is best to wear protective clothing and use sun cream.  Many travelers get caught out by the power of the Sun here, so please be extra careful.

Altitude

Cusco is 3,399 meters (11,152 feet) and Ollantaytambo is 2,792 m (9,160 ft).  Many people do not live at altitude and when coming to Cusco for the first time, may feel the affects that the pressure difference creates on their bodies.  Light headedness, short of breath, headaches are some of the symptoms felt during the first day or two upon arrival.  We understand people may not have much time here and want to get as much done as possible with regards to sightseeing, but it is very important to take it easy and rest on your first day and so as to adjust to the altitude more easily.  Stay well hydrated throughout the journey of your trip.

Here in the highlands drinking Coca tea is great for mild symptoms of altitude.  It acts a stimulant so might be best drink this during the day and preferably not at night.

Machu Picchu

One of the main reasons for coming to Perú, is to visit the amazing archaeological site – Machu Picchu.  During the high season (May through October) we recommend visitors buying their tickets well in advance of their visit to Perú – especially if you wish to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain within the park, as these tickets are limited.  There are 2500 tickets available per day just for Machu Picchu itself, so make sure you get your tickets in advance.  During the low season, you can usually buy your tickets when you arrive in Cusco at the Cultural offices or at the cultural office in Aguas Calientes (last town before MP).

Please check the official website www.machupicchu.gob.pe for more information and buying tickets.  Please note, that this website is sometimes problematical for overseas buyers and buying tickets through a reputable agency might be better.

Transport to/from Machu Picchu

Train

This is the most common way to travel to Machu Picchu.  The journey is 1.5 hours from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and follows the Vilcanota river through some stunning scenery.  Train tickets can be purchased online at www.perurail.com or www.incarail.com or at Wanchaq in Cusco or Ollantaytambo.

By Car/Foot/Train

The cost of train tickets have risen over the years and quite a number of people are seeking cheaper options to get to Machu Picchu.  A route that is growing in popularity (which is a little more intrepid) is to a taxi shuttle from Cusco/Ollantaytambo over Abra Malaga pass, down to Santa Maria/Santa Theresa and then the Hydroelectric station (Costs are around S/.40 Soles). From the hydroelectric station you can either walk 2.5 hours along the train track to Aguas Calientes or get the train (which costs around $25).  The whole journey takes around half to a full day, so you would need to spend a night in Aguas Calientes before heading up to MP the following day.

Classic Inca Trail

If you are into your hiking and want to get to Machu Picchu via the classic Inca Trail then is one of the most popular hikes in Peru.  The trek itself takes 4 days with a guide and/or porters and passes over some incredible terrain.  We would recommend reading up about the Inca Trail before deciding to book on to it, check out http://www.incatrailperu.com/.

The Classic Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for maintenance.