Best Time To Go To Peru For Clear Weather And Epic Views
The first time I heard of the South American country, Peru, I was a small child who was obsessed with a bear called Paddington. The famous bear’s birthplace in the southern hemisphere boasts landscapes from mountain regions and beaches to deserts and rainforests and a host of historic and archaeological sites.
Understanding The 3 Peruvian Regions
Peru, part of Latin America, is divided into 3 regions. The Costa (coast) on the west, Sierra (Highlands) and Selva (jungle).
The Costa region is semi-arid with a subtropical desert climate and an average rainfall of just 150mm a year. It’s generally warm and dry but often has cloudy skies because of the Humboldt Ocean current which impacts sea temperature and weather patterns.
In the Andean Highlands the climate varies depending on the elevation and region. You might see frost in the northern Peruvian Andes mountains while the southern Andes are prone to drought. Throughout the Sierra region there are distinct wet and dry seasons.
Generally the rainy season is September to May and the dry season is June to August varying depending on altitude and location. Visiting the famous Inca trail and tourist destinations like Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa and Ayacucho is recommended during April to October.
The Rainbow Mountain is best hiked during the dry season for the best views and to avoid snow which sometimes settles on the peak.
La Selva, the Peruvian part of the Amazon rainforest is generally hot and humid with a drier (not dry!) and wetter season corresponding with the seasons in the Highlands. Iquitos, known as the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, with its rich history and colonial architecture is located here but can only be accessed by river or air.
Peruvian Seasons: The Dry Season And Wet Season
The weather in Peru can be unpredictable and it’s said you can experience all four seasons in one day in this country with so many climate zones and landscapes. Because Peru is so geographically diverse, weather varies hugely across the country.
The dry season (April to November)
This is the best time to visit Peru with sunny days and bright blue skies making a great backdrop for your insta snaps. There might be some rain and nights can be chilly but trekking is more comfortable and trails should be in good condition. On the downside, you are more likely to encounter crowds and higher prices. Booking ahead is vital if you travel during the dry season.
The rainy season (December to March)
If you want to avoid queuing for selfies, consider visiting during a shoulder season or the rainy season. Check which trails and tourist attractions are open and accessible and dress for the weather.
Peru Month By Month
There are pros and cons to visiting Peru at different times of year. Here’s the ultimate guide to what to expect month by month when visiting Peru.
|Month||What It’s Like In Peru|
|January||January is generally the warmest and wettest month to visit Peru. The Inca trail and Machu Picchu tend to be quieter while the coastal regions are often busy.|
|February||Bad weather and landslides can make access to Machu Picchu. difficult and dangerous. The best times to visit are during the shoulder seasons; April and May or September, October, and November. A must-see in February is the Festival of the Candelaria in Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Wear warm clothing to admire the flower carpets, traditional dancing and other examples of Andean culture.|
|March||Springtime begins in the Amazon and the mountains in March while the coastal areas remain warm and sunny. It can still be wet in the Highlands and trails can be in poor condition. If Easter falls in March Peru can be busy as numerous popular festivals are held, especially during Holy Week.|
|April||With warmer weather across the country, April is a good time to visit weather wise. More people start to arrive, especially if Easter falls in April. It’s a good (and often cheaper) time to visit the Peruvian coast and the Sacred Valley.|
|May||Landscapes are lush and green as the rainy season comes to an end, but popular sites are not as busy as during the festival month of June, or the peak months of July and August. You can expect mostly sunny weather- it rarely rains in any part of the country during May.|
|June||This month is an excellent time to visit Peru’s interior. It’s the start of the driest season of the year and most consider it the most ideal time to trek the Inca trail and visit the Cusco region.|
|July||July is the peak season to visit with pleasant weather in both the Andes and the coastal regions. The temperatures range from 55F in Huancayo in the central Highlands to 80 F in Tarapoto on the northern high Peruvian jungle plateau.|
|August||This is usually considered high season, the busiest time to visit Peru with clear skies and good visibility. Take a hat and sun protection as the rays can be fierce especially at altitude. Nights can still be chilly so take warm layers for watching that spectacular sunset.|
|September||Night time temperatures start to rise with lows around 40 degrees at night and temperatures in the upper 60’s during the day. The northern coast stays warm with sunny days while Lima becomes cooler with drizzly days.|
|October||This is one of the best months to visit Cusco, the ancient home of the Inca civilization as you can expect pleasant weather and fewer tourists. There is so much to see and do in the city center and the surrounding area!|
|November||The dry season is coming to an end but it’s still fairly mild at night and although you might need layers for hiking you will benefit from quieter trails. Get that camera ready as the fauna and flora is abundant especially in the Amazon jungle at this time of year.|
|December||Peru’s coast is warm, dry and sunny in December and it’s the ideal period to visit Peru if you like to surf and sunbathe. It’s still possible to hike at the start of the wet season in the Highlands and rainforest and you might find prices in these regions cheaper at this time of year.|
Best Time To Visit Peru’s Popular Destinations
There are tons of outdoor adventures and cultural sites spread across Peru. Some travelers go for a week, but you can easily spend a month seeing their greatest hits. It can get really cold or super hot and humid, so read on for what to expect if you travel during the wet or dry season.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
These famous bucket list destinations almost need no introduction. Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel, sometimes called the lost city of the Incas, in the south of Peru on a 7,970 ft mountain range above the Sacred Valley 50 miles northwest of the historic city of Cusco. The Apurímac River flows past, cutting through the mountain ranges creating a canyon with a tropical mountain climate.
On the Inca trail hikers recreate the Inca pilgrimage to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu.
You can visit all year round but the best time to go is between April and October. It’s busiest between June, July and August.
- Rainy Season. The rainy season, from November to March, coincides with the low tourist season. The average daytime temperature is 20F, and the nights aren’t as chilly. Waterproofs are essential although rain varies between a light drizzle to torrential! The Inca trails close for annual maintenance in February but Machu Picchu is still open. You can hike or bike other trails or get a bus or train to visit Machu Picchu.
- Dry Season. During the dry season, you can expect less rain and warm daytime temperatures of 17 to 19°C, ideal for hiking. Nights can be cold between June and August, so pack some thermals.
Cusco and the Sacred Valley
Cusco is positively bristling with historic and architectural gems. It was the capital city of the Inca people from the 13th century until the 16th century conquest. Although most Peruvians speak Spanish in Cusco there are over 100 indigenous languages spoken.
Almost 2 million visitors a year visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site, many of them going on to explore the Sacred Valley with its verdant countryside, Inca ruins and folksy markets.
- Rainy Season. Between November and April Cusco experiences a rainy season. but TBH because of its location it can rain in and around Cusco at any time of year. In the so-called rainy season, hotels are often cheaper, there are fewer crowds and everything is blooming, including orchids.
- Dry Season. The dry season is between May and October, but this doesn’t guarantee dry weather. There’s apparently a local saying: “The weather of the Andes is like the women of the Andes- changeable and unpredictable.” You will need sunscreen, hats and sunglasses during the day and warm clothes for when it drops cold at night. You should definitely book accommodation, travel, tickets and tours in advance during this peak season.
Just south of all of that magic is a world wonder: Rainbow Mountain. A challenging hike for sure, but it is probably one of the most memorable things you’ll ever do in your life.
Lake Titicaca and Puno
Lake Titicaca is an enormous freshwater lake in the Andes mountains. Incan legends say the lake is where their founding god, Wiracocha, rose up before creating the city of Cuzco.
Because of the lake’s location, you can expect the weather to be cool for most of the year- temperatures range between about 60-69F (highs) and 18.5-38.5F (lows).
- Rainy Season. November to March is the rainy season and you might find hiking trails muddy and visibility not so great, but the landscape is likely to be lush and verdant.
- Dry Season. Between April to October, it can still be cold, especially at night, but you might catch some sunshine while admiring the fauna and flora in and around the lake.
It’s a great time to visit pre-Inca burial sites or the fascinating floating islands created by the indigenous Uros people using reeds. Originally built to protect locals from the Inca invaders centuries ago, but even now over 1000 people live on them.
Arequipa and Colca Canyon
The city of Arequipa has around 300 days of sunshine a year, beautiful white buildings made from volcanic stone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and a host of top-notch restaurants serving regional cuisine. It’s also a great stopover destination to visit the second deepest canyon in the world, Colca Canyon.
- Rainy Season. The cloud formations can be spectacular in the rainy season. If hiking and whitewater rafting is on your agenda, this might not be possible between January and March.
- Dry Season. April to November is the best time to visit Arequipa, but you will need sunscreen and a hat as the weather and high altitude could leave you with a nasty sunburn. May to November is the best time to visit the canyon and spot Andean Condors.
Puerto Maldonado, Iquitos and the Amazon Basin
Indulge your inner Lara Croft and explore the rainforest and Amazon basin fulfilling all your adventure fantasies-shortie shorts optional.
Iquitos is in the northern Peruvian Amazon and Puerto Maldonado is in the southern Amazon. Their seasons vary slightly but visit between March and June for the best of both worlds-higher waters mean it’s easier to see wildlife from the waterways and lagoons but you avoid the worst of the heavy rains.
It’s the rainforest- the clue’s in the name- so expect rain, sometimes heavy at any time of year.
- Rainy Season. From January to June, the weather in these locations is warmer and you have a good chance of spotting wildlife, including monkeys, tapir, jaguar and macaw parrots. You are likely to be able to explore more areas by boat.
- Dry Season. There are always mosquitos in these regions, but there are fewer in the dry season. It’s likely to be cooler and more trails will be accessible.
Huaraz and the Central Highlands
If you love a festival this is the place for you, especially between May and September. The nearest airport is Lima, around an 8 hour coach drive from Huaraz, “the Switzerland of Peru.”
Explorer Chick knows the area well and enjoys epic picnics, sunsets, and views in general on the Cordillera Huayhuash Trek Adventure. Hence the photo dump because, I mean, look at those views.
- Rainy Season. If you visit between October and March access to the mountains could be limited or impossible due to weather conditions and poor visibility
- Dry Season. It’s all about the hiking, climbing, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits in Huaraz and the central highlands so visit between April and September to enjoy all the sports.
Lima, one of Peru’s largest and most metropolitan cities with a well-preserved colonial center lies on the arid Pacific coast. The capital city also has a vibrant food scene that showcases local Peruvian ingredients that are healthy and unique to the region. From beaches to museums, historical monuments to clubs Lima has something for everyone.
- Rainy Season. Lima is the second driest capital city in the world. Instead of rain however you are more likely to experience misty gray fog across the city between April and November. It tends to be cheaper to travel to and stay in Lima at this time.
- Dry Season. Lima is the holiday destination for thousands of Peruvians as well as foreign tourists looking to make the most of the warm sunny weather on the coast between the summer months, December and April.
The Northern Coast (North of Lima to Ecuador)
There are lots of fascinating places to visit traveling north between Lima and Ecuador including the Pastoruri Glacier, Huascaran national park and twin summit mountain and the temples La Huaca del Sol and Huaca del Luna, adobe (mud brick) pyramids built by the Moche people near the city of Trujillo over 1000 years ago. Along the coast the weather is pretty stable all year round.
- Rainy Season. The amount of rain and snow varies hugely across the region so pack waterproofs and waterproof boots and check local conditions carefully before setting off on your outdoor adventure. El Nino can also affect the weather.
- Dry Season. Expect sunny days with temperatures in the 80’s with very little rainfall along the coast.
The Southern Coast (South of Lima to Chile)
From wine tasting in Ica to trekking hills to view the mysterious Nazca lines there’s lots to see and do in this region and the good news is that you can expect warmer weather, clear skies and very little rain all year round. From May to October get your cuteness fix by spotting penguins near the Ballestas Islands and from September to October look out for penguins, flamingos, pelicans and sea lions on the beaches and national reserve at Paracas.
- Rainy Season. In July and August the mist that blankets Lima can drift south.
- Dry Season. Temperatures range from 59-72F – perfect for hiking, watersports, biking and other outdoor pursuits.
Ready to Visit Peru?
With more action and adventure on offer than there is in an Indiana Jones movie (without the rolling stones and poison darts) Peru is the place to visit for anyone who loves history, culture, architecture, folklore and pretty much any outdoor activity in the jungle, on mountains and along the coast. Visit Peru with Explorer Chick and become a real life explorer collecting photos, memories and an enormous sense of achievement.
Meet the Writer
Afra is an award winning journalist who has enjoyed many adventures including swimming with sharks, crewing hot air balloons and canyoning. She started creating online content ten years ago, diversifying after years writing for print publications. She loves travel, great food, and her family. Not necessarily in that order.
Favorite outdoor adventure: Snorkeling in the warm waters off the coast of Cyprus
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