The coast is usually sunny and rarely sees rain. The exception is from April to November, when you will probably encounter a heavy sea mist. The highlands’ wet season lasts from October to April, and the dry season from May to September. During the dry season, you’ll have clear and sunny days, but very cold nights, especially at higher altitudes.
When to fly to Peru
The Andes divides Peru in two and the Amazon jungle is in the east of the country. It enjoys great variation in temperatures. On the coast, there is a hot and cold season. The hot season extends from the middle of November to the end of March. The cold season runs from the end of April until mid-November. Humidity is high.
The best time to visit Peru really depends on where you intend to go. The coast, including Lima, is best seen during the summer months (December to March).
For Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, visit between May and September. This is the dry season.
For jungle treks, visit between May and September.
Getting around Peru
Several airlines fly domestically including Aerocondor Peru, the country’s oldest airline, which connects 11 cities including Lima, Arequipa and Iquitos.
Star Peru links nine cities including Lima, Trujillo and Chiclayo.
LC Busre flies between Lima and Huanuco, Huaraz, Jauja, Andahuaylas, Atalaya, Ayacucho and Cajamarca.
Rail: Peru Rail offers travel to Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa and Colca Canyon. There are luxury trains such as the Hiram Bingham, which travels between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, while the Vistadome runs between Cuzco-Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu. Backpacker carriages are for no-frills travellers and are available on the following routes: Cuzco-Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu and Cuzco-Lake Titicaca.
Bus travel: there are several private bus companies offering low-fare service throughout Peru including Ormeno and Cruz del Sur.
Renting a car is easy. Budget and Avis are just two of the most-recognisable companies operating in Peru.
Peru insider information
- Gocta Falls at 771 metres (2,532 feet) high is the third-highest waterfall (after Angel Falls, Venezuela, and Tugela Falls, South Africa) in the world, although this is open to some dispute. It is in the upper Amazon basin and was “discovered” only in the past couple of years. It is said that local people kept the falls’ existence a carefully guarded secret because they feared the wrath of a beautiful mermaid who lived there.
- The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are very popular, but a lesser-known jewel is Choquequirao, one of South America’s best-preserved Inca cities, near Cusco. Choquequirao is where Inca royalty fled following the Spanish Conquest. Only a third of the site has been excavated so far.
- In Lima, the San Francisco Monastery and Church (Iglesia de San Francisco) is an interesting place to visit. It is most famous for its catacombs, which house the bones of tens of thousands of bodies. The very well preserved building was built by the Spanish and dates from the late 1600s.
- The city of Puno is on the edge of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Inca legend has it that Manco Capac, the first Inca, rose from the lake to establish the Inca Empire. Puno, at 3,827 metres (12,628 feet), is known as the “folkloric capital of Peru” because of its rich artistic and cultural traditions. It has more than 300 ethnic dances. The most famous dance is the Diablada, which is performed during the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria in February. During this time, the women dance to petition and thank the Virgin Mary. According to 17th-century legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to workers at a local silver mine and later rescued the city from enemies. Watch out for the women’s costumes: bowler hats, colourful shawls and heavy skirts.