When deciding the best time to visit a country, we often specify winter, summer, spring, or fall. In the case of Peru, the seasons are more aptly divided into a wet and dry season. As Peru is an incredibly diverse country, it’s difficult to name one particular time of year as “the ideal time to travel”. Instead, it’s essential to take the climate of Peru’s different regions into account. To this end, this post will detail the best times to travel to Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Amazon, and Lima. Hopefully, you’ll be able to plan your dream trip to Peru after reading!
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What are the best months to visit Peru?
If you’re looking for a quick answer, here you go! In general terms, the best time to visit Peru would be during its dry season: between May and October. If you decide to travel during these months, make sure to book far in advance. This advice is particularly crucial if you’re hoping to trek the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu. July and August bring the highest number of visitors, coinciding with vacations in Europe and North America. To avoid large crowds, you might consider booking your trip for May or September.
Following the dry season is the wet season, running from November to April. As a warning, the worst time to travel to Peru is between January and April, the wettest months. However, this doesn’t mean that a trip to Peru is impossible during this time. In fact, many visitors come in March or April to combine their trip to Peru with a visit to the Galápagos Islands. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep in mind that the Inca Trail is closed during February due to heavy rainfall.
I’d also recommend taking Peruvian holidays into account when planning your vacation. Since the seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere, December and January are the peak summer travel months for Peruvians. Therefore, you may see an increase in flight and hotel prices. Furthermore, Peruvian fiestas patrias (independence celebrations) take place on July 28 and 29. So, you can expect it to be more difficult to find hotels around these dates.
Best time to visit Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, located in the Andes highlands, experiences the two seasons that I mentioned above: wet and dry. During the dry season, roughly April through November, you can expect sunshine. Plus, this season brings clear skies, offering stunning views of the surrounding Andean peaks. The absolute best time to visit Machu Picchu is between May and September. This period coincides with the driest season. However, if you choose to visit during June and July, it’s important to know that these are the busiest months. So, especially if you want to trek the Inca Trail and see Peru’s Sacred Valley during specific dates, you’ll want to plan up your trip up to 12 months in advance. If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, September and October are your best bet for hiking the Inca Trail.
If you choose to visit Machu Picchu from December to March, you should be aware of certain conditions. First of all, the Inca Trail is closed during February due to the substantial amount of rainfall. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t visit Machu Picchu in February. In fact, Machu Picchu is open year-round. Plus, any month outside of February, it is still possible to trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. Nonetheless, come prepared for the rain and the drops in temperature that can occur due to thick cloud cover. I’d recommend investing in a thick rain jacket and non-slip hiking boots. You’ll probably get a little wet, but your visit to Machu Picchu can still be an enjoyable experience! Moreover, many travelers prefer to visit during this season to avoid large crowds and peak prices.
Best time to visit Cusco
Due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, the dry season is also the ideal time to visit Cusco. In general, the best months to travel to Cusco are between May and October. However, June, July, and August are the busiest months for tourism in the city. This time of year leads to significant spikes in prices for accommodations and tours! With this in mind, I suggest planning your trip during May or September. By comparison, the worst time to visit is during the rainy season (November through April). Remember that December through March are the months with the highest amount of rainfall. Instead, consider April, which is the ideal time to visit Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Galápagos Islands in one trip.
Many tourists in Cusco plan to visit other popular destinations in Peru as well. For example, the dry season (May-October) is the best time to plan a trip to both Cusco and Lake Titicaca. From Cusco, you can reach Juliaca by plane in approximately an hour. Then, it’s only a one-hour drive to Puno. From Puno, it’s easy to catch a flight back to Lima and head home. If you don’t want to go quite so far, consider a day trip from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain. This colorful mountainside is located about a three-hour drive from Cusco and has become a top-rated attraction in recent years. For a clear view of the colors, the best time of year to visit Rainbow Mountain is also during the dry season!
Best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon
The best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon depends on what you hope to see during your trip. If you’d like to observe the native fauna, you’ll want to visit between June and September. Since this is the dry season, animals stay closer to the rivers and are therefore easier to spot on your tour. Furthermore, mosquitos are fewer during this period of the year, presenting another ideal reason to visit! However, even if you visit during the dry season, you’ll still want to bring plenty of insect repellent. You can expect temperatures to average around the 80s. Visiting during the dry season is ideal for travelers who wish to see both Machu Picchu and the Amazon in one trip. The flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado only takes an hour and can be quite affordable when booked in advance.
As expected in the rainforest, the Amazon has plenty of rain, especially between October and April! The good news is that the temperatures don’t vary much during the year, although nights can be cold sometimes. Although many visitors prefer to travel to the Peruvian Amazon during the dry season, others prefer visiting during the wet season. The heavy rainfall between November and April leads to higher water levels. Thus, the rivers are easier to navigate and perfect for exploring the Amazon by boat. Always make sure to go in a group with an experienced guide, as the jungle can become dangerous very quickly. Native fauna may also be more difficult to spot during this season, as they become more spread out in the wilderness.
Best time to visit Lima and the coast
Located within a coastal desert, the capital doesn’t have a rainy season like other areas in Peru. Furthermore, temperatures in Lima are relatively moderate throughout the year. Interestingly enough, the best time to visit most of Peru is the worst time to visit its capital, Lima. This sprawling city, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, is covered in dense fog from May to September. Locals call the phenomena “La Garúa”, meaning “drizzle” or “mist” in Spanish. Since this occurs during Lima’s winter season, you can expect low temperatures and drizzle. Many people compare Lima during this time of year to California, or more specifically, to San Francisco’s climate. However, there are some upsides to visiting Lima during the winter. For example, Peru’s fiestas patrias (independence celebrations) on July 28 and 29 are an exciting time to see parades and festivals throughout the city.
The best time to visit Lima and the coast is from December to March, which corresponds to Peru’s summertime. The city is warm and sunny during this time of the year, with high temperatures ranging from the 70s to 80s. Nonetheless, the heat makes for great swimming temperatures along the coast. Plus, this is a perfect time of year to go surfing in Lima! Additionally, the capital of Peru is known for having particularly vibrant sunsets during the summertime. Although the summer is the peak season for tourism, the city itself can feel a bit empty at times. This is because locals tend to leave to spend summer vacations by the beach, south of the city. As a general rule, it would be difficult to visit other popular attractions, such as Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, during a time of year that is also ideal for visiting Lima. Nonetheless, Lima is considered the food capital of Peru, and you don’t need good weather to enjoy a nice restaurant!
Books on Peru travel
When planning your trip to Peru, you may also want to consult some of the latest Peru guidebooks. Below, I’ll include some of my personal favorites. Just click on the book covers to look inside!
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