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It is difficult to pinpoint the 'best time' to visit Peru. Due to the incredible biodiversity, and varied climates of each terrain - mountain, forest and coastline - the perks of a Peruvian adventure differ year round.
Generally 'High Season' runs from June to August. This is the Peruvian winter, where the Andes are illuminated by sunny clear skies and trekking ground is dry underfoot. Coincide a visit to Cusco with the Inti Eaymi, the Incan celebration of the winter solstice. Peru is alive with festivals, and slightly more crowds at this time of the year. The low water levels in the Amazon Basin makes this an ideal time for birding on the riverbanks. White water-rafting is also excellent in the Apurimac and Tambopata.
The 'Shoulder Season' is from September to November. Hiking routes are less crowded, and to find solitude and exclusivity, perhaps opt for the Salkantay Trek or Ausangate as an alternative to the well-trodden Inca Trail. As things quiet inland, the dense garúa (coastal fog) lifts on the coastline and sandy beaches attract more visitors. In September, Lima's gastronomic fame is brought to life with Mistura, a food festival showcasing various delicious delights. In November Chicama's famous wave is approaching its best.
During the 'Low Season' inland Peru is wet and the coastline is hot, dry and clear. From December to February the Amazon Basin is incredibly waterlogged and humid, and the Inca Trail closes due to February's downpours. However, this is peak surfing season and many head from a fog-free Lima up towards trendy Máncora on the coast, or even the Ballestas Islands to see sea-lion pups being born in January.
The 'Shoulder Season' that runs from March to May is a wonderful time to visit Peru and gain many of it's perks. The coastline is still beautifully warm in March, and it is yet to become high season in the Andes and the Amazon Basin. Hiking routes are illuminated in green following the nourishment of the rainy season, and accommodation is slightly cheaper. May is a vibrant time to visit highland cities such as Puno where festivals rival that of the high season to follow.
January is one of the hottest, and rainiest months in Peru. The Inca Trail and Sacred Valley are frequented with downpours and waters rise in the Amazon basin. This is peak rainy season here, and unrecommended for travellers who wish to experience the Urubamba Valley or Machu Picchu, as lots of the trekking routes will be closed. The average temperature of Cusco is 19°C with approximately 16 days of rainfall and humidity ranges from 60% - 65%.
However, it is an entirely different story on the coast. If it is sea-air and lapping waves that bring you to Peru, now is the season to see the beaches at their best. Head to the Islas Ballestas near Paracas to sea sea lion pups birth in January, or visit the mangroves at Tumbes in the North. Further north on trendy sandy resorts like Máncora temperatures soar, routinely hitting the 35°C mark and rain is nowhere to be seen. Now is a good time to tie in your visit to Peru with Ecuador. Head up further to Guayaquil for an adventure to the Galapagos to follow.
Another waterlogged month for the Sacred Valley where many routes and roads through the Andes are muddy and the Amazon rainforest completely saturated. The Inca Trail closes for February, however for those determined to see Machu Picchu trains still run and alternative treks are available, but expect regular downpours and unreliable visibility. Temperatures average 20°C, and rainfall is lessening after January's peak at approx. 13 days of the month. In Arequipa, February is the most likely month for rain or snow.
However, the coastline is still desirable at this time of year. Peru's coastline near Lima averages highs of 26°C, and popular beaches offer optimum swimming conditions. The garúa (thick sea-fog) over Lima lifts to show the city in vivid colour. Try paragliding over the city's dramatic cliff edges with prime visibility. This is also time for Latin America's biggest carnivals at the end of this month, watch Limeños celebrate with free concerts and a traditional water fight take place across the city. The important Festival de Verano Negro takes place, celebrating the roots of Peru's culture throughout the country.
March marks the turning point of the rainy season in the Andes and the Amazon. A glowing green valley is beginning to welcome in tourism again, and the worst rains have passed. This is a beautiful time to experience the Sacred Valley where flora and fauna are bushy and bright, and the Inca Trail is dotted with blooming Orchids. Birds are conducting colourful mating rituals, and the valley feels like spring following the showers. The average temperature in the Sacred Valley remains at 20°C and rainfall is beginning to lessen but showers still occur, particularly at the beginning of the month. The Amazon is still difficult to navigate, except by boat.
In March, sunny weather is sustained along the coastline and waters are at very swimmable temperatures following the heat of peak season on the Pacific. Vines wind along the coastal strip, where grapes are beginning to ripen to picking point, and Ica erupts in a wine-harvesting celebration, Fiesta de la Vendimia.
April is a fantastic time to visit the Peru. Increasingly pleasant mountain weather is almost certain and tourism begins to thrive again in Cusco and The Sacred Valley with Semana Santa celebrations. This is the beginning of the dry season, and Machu Picchu's weather is more often rain-free than not. Flowers and iridescent greenery stitch the landscape in incredible colour and the nature of shoulder season means that crowds are far less likely. Increased spells of sunshine and clear skies means that the temperature range varies much more between day and night, with highs of 19°C and lows of 5°C, make sure to bring thermals and warm kit for the chilly evenings.
For those looking to combine a coastal trip with the mountains, April has you covered. However, the rainforest is generally still quite damp and if venturing into the Amazon be sure to pack plenty of mosquito repellent.
Another fantastic time to visit Peru. The Andes are sunny, visible and dry and the crowds of high-season holiday makers are yet to be seen. Days are getting brighter, and evenings are increasingly crisp and cool. Cusco temperatures range from 19°C during the day to 3°C in the evening, so packing for warmth in the evening is essential, and ensure you bring plenty of suncream for your treks. May is a vibrant time for festivals in the Sacred Valley when Q'oyoroti, the lesser-known 'Inti Raymi' takes place in Ausangate as an Andean honouring of the Incan Festival of the Sun, the Vigil of the Crucifixes takes place on each hilltop surrounding Cusco, and Ollantaytambo's most important festival occurs in late May, the Señor de Chocquechilca.
May is also a brilliant season for wildlife as the brighter, drier weather prompts many animals out into the sunshine. Spectacled bears and condors can be spotted, and as wildlife viewing and birding opportunities approach their prime. This is the last month for navigating many jungle tributaries by canoe, with sightings of monkeys overhead. This is also the best month for rafting the Río Apurímac in the Sacred Valley.
Weather is crystal clear in the Andes in June. This is the beginning of high season, where the country's most popular sights are vivid in spectacular sunlight and trekking ground is dry underfoot. June is the closest you can get to constant cloudless blue skies in the Peruvian highlands. Hiking routes in the Sacred Valley are beautiful in brilliant weather but trails do tend to get much busier, so we'll make sure we have you booked in on your tours well in advance. Generally, with the clear daytime skies temperatures average 19°C in the Sacred Valley and plummet to lows of 1°C in the night, so if camping ensure to bring thermals.
Cusco and Sacsayhuamán are the place to be this month for Inti Raymi, the biggest day of the Inca calendar. However, if you're wanting to escape the crowds of Machu Picchu or Cusco, head to Pisac or Ollantaytambo for a more laid back experience of these big celebrations. Lake Titicaca's crystalline waters in the south reflect a jewel-like blue across the Andean land and visitors flock to experience the tradition rich floating islands, and the Andean Condor is it's most active in the Colca Valley near Arequipa. In the Amazon rainforest, falling water levels mean that animal sightings on the river banks are frequent and birds are vivid from canopy viewing points. Watch out for a rare sighting of the spectacled bear on your trekking routes.
July is the busiest time for tourism in Peru, where clear skies and next to no rainfall bring glorious views and perfect trekking temperatures. Pre-booking activities, especially trekking on the Inca Trail is necessary and we recommend considering one of our alternative treks to Machu Picchu such as the Lares Trail or for the most adventurous the Choquequirao Trek to discover Picchu's lesser known sister ruins. Sunny, crisp and clear weather is great for visibility in the Andes but when temperatures range from 19°C during the ay to 1°C at night, be warned that you may encounter glorious sunshine followed by snow at higher peaks. July is also as dry as it gets in the Amazon rainforest, so try and capitalise on the accessible walking paths winding through dense vegetation.
The coastline is generally temperate in June, with mild and dry weather that is frequented by coastal fogs. Lima is surrounded by the thick garùa (coastal fog), so we'd recommend staying for just a night or two and heading to the virtues of the highlands and forests. However, if you wish to head north up the coastline to Máncora, July is the best time for viewing humpback whales.
Weather is steady and reliable in the Amazon and the Sacred Valley in August. This is the last month of high season, and Peru feels quieter on the festival front but still incredibly busy with tourism. Ideal weather lends itself to enjoying all of Peru's highlight destinations, but once again we will have to ensure you book well in advance for treks and activities. The Salkantay Trek is a challenging alternative to the Inca Trail, with far less crowds hike rewardingly past coffee farms, glacial lakes and snowcapped peaks before lowering into the Machu Picchu ruins and cloud forests. Make sure you pack accordingly, as temperatures of Cusco range from 20°C to 2°C, so light daytime garments and plenty of jumpers and thermals for the evening are essential. This is also prime time for the Amazon at its best, the pathways and rivers are navigable and at their least humid.
August is the perfect time to head to Peru's jungle for hiking, canoeing and birding, or head to Arequipa for the Río Chili's rapids. For those seeking pulse-raising activities, check out our Altitudes and Adrenaline Itinerary a perfect tour of Peru's wild opportunities in August.
September is the best time for experiencing the Sacred Valley in clear weather without the crowds. This is the perfect time for Cusco and the surrounds as highs reach 20°C and lows are at 5°C, with slightly warmer evenings than previous months. Incan ruins are less frequented by tourists, and visitors to Peru in September still reap huge benefits from the beautiful weather across the country. Though warm and humid throughout the year, September is the driest month in the Amazon and the best time to spot wildlife.
The Mistura Culinary Festival takes place in Lima for a week in mid-September, attracting half a million visitors to sample the country's best gourmet and street food. Try and taste world famous culinary produce and peruse the menus of over 200 restaurants and bars opening their doors amongst street vendors and food carts.
October is a wonderful time to experience Peru's spring climate. Much of the country is dry, but the Andes and Sacred Valley are gradually warming up with dotted showers. In the Amazon rainforest the end of the dry season means that it is a fantastic time to spot wildlife, especially in the southern areas such as Manú and the Tambopata Nature Reserve. Trekking routes are less frequented and the weather is incredibly agreeable, ranging from 21°C in the day to 6°C at night so now is a great time to have a crack at the Choquequirao Trek and camp wrapped up warm under a star-lit sky.
October is the beginning of the surf season in Peru, when Peru attracts northern swells that bring along warmer water. From beach towns north of Lima such as Cabo Blanco, Chicama and Máncora there are epic opportunities of surf, whale viewing opportunities, and consistent sunshine. Our exclusive wildlife route from the ocean to the jungle is best in October.
Though November is the end of the dry season, it is another brilliant month to travel to Peru. Treks in the Sacred Valley are free from crowds whilst much of the highlands begins to transition with rising temperatures and more moisture in the air. Temperatures in Cusco range from 21°C down to 6°C , and November is thus still a great time for out of season trekking and clear pathways. Head down to Lake Titicaca this month for Puno Week, a seven day festival of spectacular costumes and street dancing.
In general, the thick garúa (coastal fog) over Lima has lifted and temperatures continue to rise. November sees Peru is at it's best for surfing and the world's longest wave at Puerto Chicama is in prime cresting form.
December sees an increase in rainfall over the Sacred Valley and the Amazon Rainforest. Routes to Machu Picchu are at times waterlogged, however the citadel is still readily accessible by the Vistadome train. December is still not a month to be ruled out, as due to the nature of Peru's diverse climate range there are so many other activities besides trekking.
Heading to the beaches at this time of year confirms that it is still holiday season here. December is perfect for surfing, kitesurfing, diving and whale-watching along Peru's northern coast. Perhaps head south of Lima to Paracas' expansive sands, followed by a flight over the mysterious Nazca lines and a voyage out to the Islas Ballestas to see turquoise waters inundated with sea lions.