Walking the Inca Trail is one of the most monumental experiences I have had! If you love hiking, views, adventures, and challenges, I am fairly sure you will love it too. But is hiking the Inca Trail in March a good time to go?
The cool thing about March on the Inca Trail is that in the month of February, the entire trail is all closed off for maintenance and TLC, so in March, you will walk along pristine paths kinda untouched by humans again!
Having personally made this iconic trail (I LOVED it!), first and foremost, I want to inspire you to walk the epic Inca Trail yourself, regardless of the time of year.
But still, what season you choose to do this once-in-a-lifetime hike does matter, so let’s dive into what it is like to do this monumental trek in March!
So again, the really cool thing about making the Inca Trail in March is that the trail has just opened after a month of maintenance and revitalization in February.
This second month of the year is also still technically the wet season in the Sacred Valley, although not as rainy as the months before.
Walking the Inca Trail this month will still be epic, but you also need to expect occasional rain showers.
Hence, March still emerges as a good time to embark on the trail, with a blend of slightly dryer weather conditions, yet still with some showers and moderate temperatures.
As the sun graces the Peruvian skies, March definitely offers a respite from the heat of the peak season.
It is still shoulder season, both when it comes to temperature, precipitation, and lack of crowds on the trail.
Daytime temperatures are quite comfortable, allowing for a not-too-hot, not-too-cold trek, while nights are cooler but without the risk of freezing.
With more limited rainfall than in January, you can revel in the breathtaking views without battling the dense grey clouds and heavy downpours that characterize January and February, although you must still expect showers even in March.
Apart from the still occasional showers and subsequent slightly muddy trails, the Inca Trail conditions in March are, of course, superb!
As the month of maintenance and absolutely no tourists have just passed, anything that needed tending to from the carers of the trail has been done.
Choosing March for your Inca Trail adventure, you will traverse a path rejuvenated physically (and who knows, maybe spiritually?) by the annual maintenance efforts going on in February.
The trail is in prime condition, and the crowds that flood the trail during peak months have yet to arrive, granting you a more intimate connection with the surroundings even though you are still walking as part of a group.
Even when I walked the Inca Trail in July, probably at the same time as thousands of other trekkers, I was able to do parts of the hike in complete solitude in the mountains!
For me, at least, this adds another layer of magic to the walking (my Norwegian heart used to walk by myself in our vast wilderness) and makes it a personal experience.
The views in the mountains of Peru are captivating any time of year, but even in the summer, there will be floating fog and cloud covers that periodically hamper the miles and miles of green hills and peaks far away!
And you really want to savor it all, from sunrise at Inti Punku to the ethereal beauty of Wiñay Wayna; every step along the trail is a photo-worthy spectacle.
So, heading for the drier parts of the year in Peru, your risk of missing the magic of the views is a lot smaller!
You will see the play of light and shadow on ancient ruins eeeeverywhere (they are not just at the endpoint at Machu Picchu, but everywhere along the trial), creating an atmosphere that’s truly magical.
Flora and Fauna In The Sacred Valley
Come March, you will be blessed as a hiker with an amazingly vibrant display of blooming flora, slowly transforming the whole trail into a kaleidoscope of massive green and colors.
The diversity of plant life here is awe-inspiring, especially as it is so high above the sea! There are ample opportunities for all nature enthusiasts to simply revel in the beauty surrounding them.
If you also find a moment of solitude walking by yourself along the trail, just log onto the vibration of the surroundings and the mountain.
Also, March brings increased chances of spotting wildlife that has not been bothered by humans in a month, which occasionally will add an extra layer of excitement to your journey!
Even in July, we met lots and lots of alpacas hanging around the ruins along the trail.
Immersive Cultural Peruvian Experience
Beyond the natural wonders, March provides an awakening of unique cultural encounters in Peru.
As it happens, March is the month where they celebrate Festival Internacional de la Vendimia; the International Harvest Festival in English. And the harvest in question is the wine harvest!
This tradition belongs on the southern coast of Peru in Ica, a small town the Fiesta de la Vendimia. Celebration of the wine harvest is marked with processions, dance, and, of course, wine!
Ipa is not too far from Cusco (in Peruvian terms); it is around 320 miles (500 kilometers), a journey you can do in 15 hours or so! (Yeah, of course, you can enjoy the Peruvian wine in Cusco too!)
You can expect to find yourself in the middle of parades, contests, and lots of opportunities for grape stomping in Ipa (which is a sound bucket list goal, in my opinion).
Local communities come to life, offering hikers a glimpse into the traditions of the region. I really recommend you don’t miss out before or after your trek; hang with the locals and learn from them!
It will add a profound dimension to your overall experience.
Inca Trail In March Preparation Tips
Just stating once and for all that proper gear, clothes, energy, and medicine for health precautions (including altitude acclimatization) are crucial for a successful and enjoyable journey across the mountains in Peru!
Stay a few days in Cusco before your hike.
I stayed for a few days in Cusco at around 11.000 feet (3400 meters), which was good for adjusting to the noticeable altitude and exploring Cusco!
Bring walking sticks.
Walking sticks are really nice to have, as well as a well of snacks and a small travel pharmacy in your day pack. And a pair of sock changes for the day should you need it!
Packing for the Inca Trail.
Packing essentials for March hiking is pretty much the same as what I recommend in general. You need to prepare for cooler nights, warmer days, and a bit of rain.
So bring lightweight clothing for daytime warmth and layers for cooler nights, and say YES when you are offered two insulated sleeping mats!
Wool is always good for the mountains, get yourself thin wollen underwear (top and bottom) and bring two sets. If one gets really wet, you will not be able to dry it anywhere.
Although wool also keeps you warm even when it is wet, it is just not that cozy and comfortable.
Personal Experiences From The Inca Trail Hike
Drawing from my own trek in Peru, the Inca Trail is a tapestry woven with unforgettable moments!
Some with others, from the camaraderie of fellow hikers to the challenges overcome, others by myself, as a tiny human in the big mountains!
This journey left an indelible mark on me; I kind of feel like there was a “before and after” for me personally. If you are so inclined, you will find plenty of moments with spiritual connection and growth!
Follow The Inca Trail Etiquette
Yes, there is an Inca Trail Etiquette!
This is also why all hiking along the ancient trail is regulated and must be done in organized groups. This is very likely the best way to ensure that there is no littering or disrespectful behavior along the path.
AND that no one gets lost!
Clearly, respecting nature and fellow hikers is paramount.
All hikers of the Inca Trail can contribute to the trail’s preservation by adhering to leave-no-trace principles and embracing responsible tourism practices. Remember that in March, you are also the first one to walk after the trial has been all fixed up!
A mindful approach ensures future generations can also savor the wonders of the Inca Trail exactly as it is today.
While March offers a bounty of advantages, it’s essential to address potential challenges, too.
From cooler night temperatures to the need for waterproof gear, understanding and preparing for these factors will enhance your overall experience.
As there still will be showers, expect that you may encounter muddy and slippery parts of the trail. Make sure you have solid mountain hiking boots, and walk with care!
Planning Your Trip
Booking considerations and permits and choosing the right tour operator are pivotal steps in planning your Inca Trail adventure.
You CAN be lucky, go to Cusco, and find a free spot on one of the organized tours that depart from there, but I would not recommend that.
The Inca Trail is super popular, and even though March technically is shoulder season, you would need a bit of luck to find a free spot.
My advice is to plan ahead, and also to book with a reputable tour company!
As I walked the trail with G Adventures, a worldwide sustainable small group adventure travel company, I can not recommend them enough as your “host” to do the Inca Trail.
You can read my whole article about my Inca Trail experience here, or just check out their Inca Trail tours here (there are a variety of them, some are longer, and some are shorter!).
Securing permits well in advance is imperative, and selecting a reputable tour operator ensures a seamless and enriching experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is March the best time to hike the Inca Trail?
- March offers a unique blend of favorable weather and trail conditions, making it an excellent time for the Inca Trail trek – but expect rain showers.
- What gear is essential for hiking the Inca Trail in March?
- Lightweight clothing for daytime, layers for colder nights, waterproof gear, and proper hiking boots are essential. Also, bring hiking sticks.
- Are there any specific challenges for March hikers?
- Cooler temperatures than in the high season and the need for waterproof gear is necessary, but proper preparation and packing the right stuff will put those worries to rest. Make sure you have good hiking boots that can handle a wet trail!
- Why is guided touring recommended for the Inca Trail?
- Guided tours are not just recommended, it is mandatory. You can not embark on the Inca Trail on your own, as all travel along the ancient paths is strictly regulated by the Peruvian Government. In addition, this will enhance safety, provide cultural insights, and ensure a smoother overall experience for you as a hiker!
- How far in advance should I book for the Inca Trail in March?
- It’s advisable to secure permits and book well in advance.
Wrap-Up Inca Trail In March
In conclusion, March is, in many ways, a great time to do the Inca Trial, as long as you don’t mind the cooler nights and occasional rain showers along the path!
The weather, trail conditions, and cultural richness create experiences that resonate long after the trek concludes.
As you contemplate your journey, let the allure of March beckon you to a transformative adventure.
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