The wet season is properly there in November in the Sacred Valley. On the Inca Trail, there is comparatively little variation between the highs around 70° F (21° C) and the lows around 43° F (6° C), it is warm by Andean standards, and temperatures do not dip below freezing even at night.
While that is good news for those camping out on the trail, the wet weather can on occasion dampen spirits. The rain does keep on coming, though the wet season pattern is that the rains get heavier in the afternoons, while mornings can still be bright.
The build-up of rainwater makes the risk of landslides greater as the month progresses, and going underfoot is invariably muddy. But flora loves the increased rain and after several months of the Andes looking ever drier and yellower, the Andes are in bloom again this month, with the first welcome color change a bright splash of green everywhere.
Crowds & Costs
Falling between the end of shoulder season and the next busy period around Christmas and New Year, November is probably the best month to search around for deals on hotels and tours. Visitors are more or less at their lowest levels of the year, and the drop in visitor numbers even since October is drastic.
This has the advantage that planning a trip for November is easier than at most other times of the year, as there are rarely any full hotels or over-subscribed tours to contend with. Some of the year's best flight prices, particularly on international flights into Lima, are available now.
Where to Go
You may never see the Inca Trail with so few other trekkers, or the site of Machu Picchu with as few other visitors as it will get this month. Bear in mind that with the rain, the Inca Trail suffers more from erosion now: some great alternative treks are less frequented and make for better November hiking—check out this 5-day Salkantay Trek itinerary incorporated in an 8-day visit to Peru's Sacred Valley. That said, plan on spending more time inside on your November visit to the Sacred Valley than you otherwise would.
While a visit in high season may have meant you were focussing on the Sacred Valley's beautiful countryside, this month it is perhaps a wise idea to turn to the spectacular architecture and museums in Cusco, or to make the most of the city's exquisite restaurants and lively bars. See here for some of the cultural highlights of the Sacred Valley. The smaller, pretty towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo are good for spending time in at the moment, too.
All will make welcome diversions for trekkers that have been exposed to the elements on the Inca Trail for several days! Finally, the thermal springs in Aguas Calientes and at Salinas near Maras are especially appealing to rain-drenched visitors this month. Getting wet and warm in thermal baths is more relaxing than getting wet and cold on the inca Trail!
What to Do
Just as trekking in the increasingly heavy rains loses its appeal because of the thick mud on the trails and the lack of shelter from downpours, so rafting becomes especially tempting this month. That said, there is a sudden burst of color all along the Inca Trail this month as rain makes the previously dry land bloom once more.
Plant-lovers have a ball on the Sacred Valley hikes this month, with the many orchid varieties among the most notable flowers starting to bloom in vibrant color.
Shoulder months like November are also great for doing a trek involving jungle as well as mountains, such as the Inca Jungle Trek, which involves cycling, zip-lining, and rafting as a 4-day adventure tour build-up to Machu Picchu. There are fewer crowds, enough water to have swollen the rivers a bit which makes better rafting and no total wash-outs as wet season has not properly begun. November along with October and March is the best time for this particular activity.
The rafting season on the Río Apurímac ends at the end of November, but there is rafting on other rivers hereabouts that can be done now and right through wet season.
Día de Todos Santos & Día de los Muertos: On these two days, November 1 and November 2 respectively, the memory of the dead is honored across Peru. In the highlands, this is normally done by bringing gifts of food to the dead in cemetery tombs. Candlelit vigils are also held at cemeteries until dawn on November 2, and a special bread called tanta wawa is prepared.