December, a month of transformation in the Andes, offers a unique perspective of Machu Picchu, the iconic Incan citadel. As a local guide and photography enthusiast from Cusco, I’ll share insights into what this season holds for travelers, emphasizing the beauty and challenges it brings.
What to Expect
December marks the start of the rainy season in Machu Picchu. This shift brings about a lush, vibrant landscape, but also poses some challenges. Expect afternoons filled with rain, while mornings generally stay dry. The weather patterns this month create a mystical ambiance around the ancient ruins.
Things to Do and See
Cultural Festivities in Cusco
- Fiesta de Concepción Inmaculada: Witness the colorful processions in honor of the Virgin Mary on December 8th.
- Santuranticuy Fair: Held on Christmas Eve, this large artisan fair in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is ideal for finding unique souvenirs.
Machu Picchu Exploration
- Guided Tours: Discover the history and secrets of Machu Picchu with a guided tour.
- Photography: The unique light and vibrant flora make December an excellent month for photography.
The temperature fluctuates between 68°F (20°C) and 45°F (7°C). While the rain nourishes the environment, it also requires visitors to be prepared with waterproof gear and layered clothing.
Crowds & Costs
Early December sees fewer tourists, offering a more tranquil experience. However, the crowd size increases significantly towards the Christmas holidays. Accommodation and tour prices are lower at the beginning of the month but rise during the holiday season.
- Lush Scenery: The rains transform the landscape into a green paradise.
- Unique Photography Opportunities: The misty, rain-fed environment creates mystical photo opportunities.
- Cultural Events: December is rich with cultural festivities in Cusco, enhancing the overall experience.
- Rainy Afternoons: Frequent showers can hinder some outdoor activities.
- Slippery Trails: Hiking paths, including the famous Inca Trail, become more challenging.
- Weather Preparedness: Bring waterproof jackets, umbrellas, and non-slip hiking shoes.
- Cultural Engagement: Plan your visit around Cusco’s December festivities for a richer experience.
- Early Visits: Explore Machu Picchu in the mornings to avoid the rain and crowds.
In conclusion, December in Machu Picchu is a time of vivid beauty and cultural richness, albeit with the need for careful planning due to the weather. This guide aims to ensure travelers make the most of their visit during this unique time of the year.