Inca Trail in September: Weather, Pros, Cons and more

Inca Trail in September - Xplore Cusco

September is a great time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. With its cool and dry weather, you can expect to have a fantastic experience during your journey. Here’s what you need to know before setting out on your adventure.

Is the Inca Trail Open in September?

Yes, the Inca Trail is open in September. The trail is open year-round except for February, when it is closed for maintenance.

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September is the beginning of the dry season in Cusco, and the weather is generally cool and dry with average temperatures ranging from 9°C to 19°C (48°F to 66°F). The days are sunny and clear, with cool nights. However, it’s essential to be prepared for sudden weather changes and pack accordingly.

Crowds & Costs

September is a popular month for hiking the Inca Trail, and it’s considered peak season. As a result, you can expect the trail to be busy. However, the number of visitors is still lower compared to July and August, which means you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the trail’s natural beauty.

The cost of hiking the Inca Trail in September is similar to the other peak months. You will need to book your tour in advance to secure a spot, and prices vary depending on the tour operator you choose.

Pros of hiking the Inca Trail in September

September is a great month to hike the Inca Trail because of the cool and dry weather. You’ll enjoy clear and sunny days with cool nights, making it perfect for hiking. Additionally, the trail’s natural beauty is at its peak during this time.

Cons of hiking the Inca Trail in September

One of the main disadvantages of hiking the Inca Trail in September is the high demand. It’s essential to book your tour as soon as possible to secure your spot. The trail can get crowded, so it’s not the best time to hike if you’re looking for solitude.


  1. Book in advance: September is one of the busiest months for the Inca Trail, so it’s essential to book your permits and tour operator well in advance.
  2. Train for the hike: The Inca Trail is a challenging trek, so it’s essential to be physically prepared. Start training at least two months before your trip, with a mix of cardio and strength exercises.
  3. Acclimate to the altitude: Cusco and the Inca Trail are at high altitude, so it’s crucial to spend a few days in Cusco before the trek to acclimate. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and smoking.
  4. Pack appropriately: Make sure to pack light but essential items for the trek, including layers for the changing weather, rain gear, comfortable hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a water bottle.
  5. Be respectful of the environment: The Inca Trail is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s essential to follow Leave No Trace principles and pack out everything you bring in.
  6. Be open to alternative treks: If permits for the Inca Trail are sold out or too expensive, consider alternative treks such as the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, or Choquequirao Trek.

Alternative Treks to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in September

If you’re looking for a less crowded and more affordable trek, there are several alternatives to the Inca Trail. Some of the popular treks include:

  • Salkantay Trek
  • Lares Trek
  • Choquequirao Trek
  • Inca Jungle Trek

These treks offer stunning scenery, unique experiences, and the chance to explore the lesser-known parts of the Andes.

What to do in September in Cusco

Apart from hiking the Inca Trail, there are several activities you can do in Cusco in September. Here are some of the top things to do:

  • Visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Explore the colorful Cusco markets
  • Do a day hike tour like: Rainbow Mountain or Humantay Lake.
  • Visit the Machu Picchu Citadel
  • Take a cooking class and learn how to make traditional Peruvian dishes


September is an excellent month to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The cool and dry weather, along with the stunning natural beauty of the trail, make it an ideal time to explore the Andes. While the trail can get crowded, you can still enjoy a fantastic experience with proper planning.


What should I pack for the Inca Trail in September?

You should pack warm clothing for the nights and early mornings, as well as layers for the changing weather. Don’t forget rain gear, comfortable hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a water bottle.

Can I hike the Inca Trail on my own in September?

No, you need to hire a licensed tour operator to hike the Inca Trail. It’s not allowed to hike the trail independently.

How long is the Inca Trail, and how difficult is it?

The Inca Trail is approximately 42 kilometers (26 miles) long, and it takes four days to complete. The trail is considered moderate to challenging, with steep climbs, high altitude, and rugged terrain.

Do I need to acclimate to the altitude before hiking the Inca Trail?

Yes, it’s recommended to spend at least two days in Cusco to acclimate to the high altitude before starting the trek.

Looking for other months?

Check out these articles written specifically to see what each month is like at Inca Trail.

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