Peru boasts one of South America’s top attractions in Machu Picchu. The country also features numerous other destinations spread across three climatic zones. With the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains and the South Pacific Ocean all hemmed into its borders, Peru stands out as one of the more geographically diverse nations in the continent. These dramatically different landscapes also make for distinct weather conditions. Travellers should plan their trips to Peru based on the time of year and the region in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Peru’s seasons run opposite of those in the northern hemisphere. The country’s location in the southern hemisphere means that summer technically lasts from December to February, while winter spans June to August. Temperatures tend to drop slightly in the winter, but the primary shift in Peru’s annual climate is the change in precipitation. Of course, conditions depend greatly on the particular region.
Peru’s Andean highlands encompass major attractions, such as Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. Winter is the dry season here, running from June to August. Mild daytime temperatures give way to chilly nights, and the lack of precipitation makes this an ideal period to visit the area. Summer brings on wet conditions from December through February and March. Heavy rainfall blankets the mountains, causing occasional mudslides and greatly diminishing the flow of tourist traffic.
The coastal desert of Peru sprawls along the South Pacific Ocean. Destinations like the Nazca Lines and Arequipa lie to the south, while the capital of Lima dominates the central coast. Trujillo and the beach town of Mancora sit in the northern reaches of the country. December to April constitutes summer on the Peruvian coast. Summer conditions are hot and arid, ideal for swimming and beach activities. Winter shifts gears as the shoreline becomes shrouded in sea mist and intermittent pockets of rain. The northern coast remains pleasant all year round, whereas Lima and the southern coast feature mostly cloudy weather from May until September. Peru’s coast also experiences occasional El Niño events. This phenomenon generally occurs around Christmas. Warm ocean currents mix with increased air pressure in an abrupt reversal of atmospheric and sea conditions. This oceanic upheaval produces heavy rains and major climate shifts conducive to isolated droughts. Occasional tremors and earthquakes are not uncommon either.
The Peruvian Amazon ranks as the most consistent of the three climatic zones. The interior swaths of jungle feature humid, tropical conditions year round. Travellers can expect sticky heat and regular rainfall no matter what season they visit. However, even the Amazon has slightly different winter and summer weather. April through October is the “dry winter” season, with relatively less precipitation and lower river levels. Andean Travel Web recommends this as the best time to go to the Amazon. The wet summer season spans November to March, bringing on torrential downpours at frequent intervals.