Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca citadel perched atop a mountain within the southern stretches of the Peruvian Amazon, and it’s a wonder in every sense of the word. Whether you visit at the peak of the Peruvian summer or brave the mud and mist of the rainy season, Machu Picchu doesn’t disappoint. Its jungle setting means exotic flora and fauna abound, but remember that rain is always a possibility—even smack-dab in the middle of the dry season. Thanks to new government regulations, massive crowds and daylong lingerers are a thing of the past, meaning the only photo bombers you need to contend with now are the resident alpacas and llamas.
Dry Season (May to October)
Though technically the dry season, don’t rule out a shower or two during this time. Machu Picchu is located on the edges of the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, where rainfall can occur year round. There’s often a morning mist that typically clears by early afternoon. The morning hours can be frigid, especially during June and July, but the sun-drenched days are usually pleasant and offer temperatures in the low 60s (Fahrenheit).
Wet Season (November to April)
Machu Picchu’s wettest months are also its warmest, with temperatures reaching as high as the upper 70s. Humidity is also high, ranging from 60 to 90 percent daily. The mornings see the most precipitation and fog, when the citadel can be almost completely shrouded in a dense and opaque mist. January through March see the most rainfall.
Llamas and Alpacas
Chances are very high you’ll spot a llama or alpaca during your visit to Machu Picchu. They freely roam the ruins, munching on the foliage and attracting tourists’ attention. You can spot the difference between the two species by size and ear shape. Llamas are much larger than alpacas, and they have shorter, pointier ears; alpacas are defined by their fuzz-framed faces and bigger, leaf-shaped ears.
Machu Picchu is home to one of the world’s most diverse bird populations, with many of its over 420 bird species being endemic to the region. Though many of these species are most likely to be spotted within the forest biome, keep a particular lookout for the green-and-white hummingbird, Inca wren and rufous-collared sparrow while you roam the ruins and trails.
Vizcachas are the bushy-tailed rodents of Machu Picchu, and they can often be found lurking by and on the rocks and boulders of the ruins. Their appearance is best described as a cross between a guinea pig, a rabbit and a squirrel. Like squirrels, they’re fast and hide at the slightest sound, so do your best to keep quiet if you spot one. You might just snag a photo before it scurries off!
The spectacled bear is South America’s only bear species, and the Machu Picchu ruins happen to be one of their favorite habitats. However, as an elusive, nocturnal and endangered species, the chances of spotting one during your visit are relatively slim. They tend to stick to the denser forested areas and usually only make appearances at the ruins a few times a year.