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When To Go
All the high-season/low-season trade-offs are here. Winter (June through August) means drier weather and easier traveling, but it's prime vacation time for those in the northern hemisphere. Don't forget that three major observances—Inti Raymi (June 24), Peru's Independence Day (July 28), and Santa Rosa de Lima (August 30)—fall during this time, and translate into exceptionally heavy crowds of Peruvian travelers. (Also consider that Sundays are free for Cusqueños.) The result is higher lodging prices and larger crowds. Prices and visitor numbers drop dramatically during the summer rainy season (October through April). Note that January is the height of rainy season and the Inca Trail is closed in February. For near-ideal weather and manageable crowds, consider a spring or fall trip.
On a high-season weekend, Machu Picchu might host in excess of 3,000 visitors a day. By September, daily totals fall to 1,500 visitors, and a typical February day, in the lowest of the low season, sees a relatively paltry 1,000 people pass through the entry turnstiles.
While many travelers day trip to Machu Picchu, an overnight in Aguas Calientes (the town below the site) lets you experience the ruins long after the day-trippers have left, and before the first train and tour groups arrive in the morning.
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