Weather in Peru: Desert, mountains & jungle
Although most people tend to think of seasons in terms of summer and winter, when planning a trip to Peru, it’s better to distinguish based on rainy and dry seasons. So, what is the weather really like in Peru?
Broadly speaking the weather in Peru can be divided into three seasons…
Rainy season: December, January, February, March
Dry season: May, June, July, August, September
Shoulder season: October, November, April
Because Peru is located fairly close to the equator, temperatures don’t vary much throughout the year. In fact, altitude plays a far bigger role in temperature. Since the Andes run down the middle of Peru and several attractions (including Cuzco and Lake Titicaca) sit at high altitudes, travelers should generally pack layers and be prepared for possibly frigid nights.
Complicating matters slightly further, Peru is divided into three distinct regions: Desert coastline, Andean highlands, and the Amazon Rainforest. While the highlands and the rainforest follow the rainy/dry season distinction, Lima is dry all year ’round.
Lima (desert coastline, sea level)
Rainy season: It doesn’t rain in Lima. This is the warmest, sunniest time in Lima (64 - 80°F).
Dry season: Foggy with mist along the coast (60 - 70°F).
Shoulder season: Party cloudy (63 - 72°F).
Since Lima is the second largest desert city in the world (after Cairo, Egypt), you will never have to worry about rain. During the dry/winter season there is a common coastal fog called a garúa and skies are overcast. Humidity is high along the coast, so visitors should bring warm clothes to keep away the chill.
Cusco/Machu Picchu (Andean highlands, 8-11,000 feet above sea level)
Rainy season: Showers are common in the afternoon (43 - 72°F).
Dry season: Sunniest time of year, though showers are possible in the mountains. Temperature drops at night but still relatively warm during the day (32 - 70°F).
Shoulder season: Chance of rain, best time to visit for the combination of sun and warmer nighttime temperatures (41 - 70°F).
Visitors to Machu Picchu should dress in layers, since the Andean sun is exceptionally strong and the wind from snow-covered mountaintops can be chilling. The rainiest months are January and February. The Inca Trail is closed during February. Temperatures can drop significantly at night.
Puerto Maldonado (Amazon Rainforest, 280 feet above sea level)
Rainy season: Expect heavy showers sporadically throughout the day. Hot and humid (69 - 89°F).
Dry season: Shorter showers common. Possible cold fronts, but still generally hot and humid (60 - 92°F).
Shoulder season: Shorter showers common. Hot and humid (69 - 90°F).
It’s very possible to visit and enjoy the Amazon during the rainy season, you simply need to prepare for more mosquitos and mud (think: long-sleeved but lightweight items, bug spray, and boots). The rainiest months are January and February, and river levels will be higher. Follow this link to find out more about planning and packing for the Amazon.
(Credit to Willian Justen de Vasconcellos, Ashim de Silva, Dan Gold, Tomas Sobek, Anna & Michal and Giacomo Buzzao for the images used in this blog).