Peru is a fantastic destination.
This is a great country to experience South American culture, history and nature.
The main draw for many visitors is the incredible Incan structure of Machu Picchu. But there are many other archaeological sites to find.
You can also enjoy interesting cities, cloud forest and one of the largest areas of Amazonia. The best time to visit Peru depends on the things you want to see and do.
As a note on the Amazon, the Peruvian Amazon is a fantastic area to visit. And there are different high-rated jungle lodges and river cruises to choose from. Impressively, the Amazon Rainforest covers 40% of the South American continent.
Peru is fortunate to contain some of the best lodges and cruises for an Amazon experience.
Peru’s main attractions are across different temperature zones and altitudes. And so, the best time to visit Peru will depend on what you are doing and where you plan to visit.
This guide will help you decide the best time to visit Peru for the itinerary you have in mind.
We will start the guide with Cusco and Machu Picchu, as this is the main tourist attraction of interest for many of Peru’s visitors.
After this, we will mention the two best places to experience the Amazon Rainforest.
Cusco and Machu Picchu
The main attraction for many people in Peru is the Incan monument of Machu Picchu. The monument draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year to see the famous sight.
To visit Machu Picchu, you will first arrive in Cusco, which is a fantastic attraction in its own right. From Cusco, you will travel to Poroy station. This is where you begin your train journey to Aguas Calientes at the foot of the Incan citadel.
The Best Time to Visit Cusco and Machu Picchu
Cusco is located high in the Andes mountains. And because of this the temperature and weather are very different to the rest of Peru.
During the day, the temperature stays relatively constant at around 19°C (66°F). But even during the warmest months, the nights often get down to 6°C (43°F), so plan on bringing some warm clothing. Note that over the colder months the nights can get below freezing.
Generally speaking, there is a trade-off when visiting Machu Picchu between large crowds and rainy weather. The rain doesn’t only bring wet weather, but also worse visibility of the fantastic views.
There are some times between the crowds and the worst of the weather, which could be the perfect time to visit Machu Picchu. For example, April is often a great time to visit. This is also when the rains have caused the surroundings to grow with lush green vegetation.
The dry season is usually from April until October and the wet season is from mid-November to April. February is often the wettest month and June and July receive the most visitors. Peak season starts in May and ends around September.
The weeks just before and after peak season are a great time to visit. These balance visitor numbers with the best chances for clear views and clear skies.
For a detailed look at the best time to visit Machu Picchu, you can see our guide. This includes summary information for each month.
A Visual Guide for When to Visit Cusco
Peru’s Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest covers 40% of the South American continent and contains the highest amount of life on Earth.
On guided tours in Amazonia, enjoy spotting many different animals. See monkeys, caiman crocodilians and pink river dolphins. You can also spot hundreds of beautiful birds, including parrots, iconic toucans and paradise tanagers.
You will also find giant trees, bromeliads clinging to the branches, delicate orchids and other beautiful flowers. And this is not even counting the stunning scenery.
To experience Peru’s Amazon Rainforest, the rainforest gateways are Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado.
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Puerto Maldonado is located just a short flight from Cusco. This makes it an ideal destination to combine with Machu Picchu. You can see our Puerto Maldonado Travel Guide to learn more.
The rainforest gateway of Puerto Maldonado is home to the most thought out tourism industry in Amazonia. This means it’s a great place to choose an Amazon tour. And there are different high rated Puerto Maldonado Amazon lodges to choose from.
This region has more claylicks than anywhere else in South America. There are also some breathtakingly beautiful oxbow lakes. These are often home to giant river otters, prehistoric-looking birds and giant freshwater fish.
Monkeys are also frequently spotted visiting the lake edges during the morning. You can watch them feed on the fruits and new shoots.
Not only home to some fantastic lodges, the Puerto Maldonado rainforest is one of the world’s largest protected areas of tropical forest. This is a protected area mosaic roughly the same size as Belgium.
The Best Time to Visit Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Temperature in Puerto Maldonado is tropical year round. However, remember that tropical areas experience a greater drop in temperature from day to night than between seasons. This means no matter when you visit, it’s recommended to bring some clothes for very hot days and colder nights.
A main difference in the time of year is rainfall. This is a bit more intense over the wet season.
- The wet season is from around mid-October to mid-March
- The dry season is from around mid-April to mid-November
Although the wet season receives more rain and more intense downpours, the rain rarely lasts all day.
The wet season can mean more chance of activities being canceled due to wet weather. But it’s also quite an experience to watch the intense rains from the comfort of your lodge.
However, do note that Manu is generally off-limits over the wet season and operates from April through October. The Tambopata region operates throughout the year.
Specific to Puerto Maldonado, you can expect cold spells between May through September. Cold wind from Argentina can bring the temperature down to 9°C (50° F) and the nights down to 5° C (43° F). If traveling during this time, plan on bringing some warmer clothes as the cold spells can last a few days.
For wildlife viewing, note that you can find fantastic wildlife at all times of the year.
As Puerto Maldonado is the best place to watch claylicks in South America, there are some better months to visit for this activity. This is when macaws and other parrots gather on the riverbank for a fantastic display.
Generally, claylicks experience less activity over the drier season – specifically from May to July. But there are a lot of factors involved. It’s best to contact the recommended tours directly using the tour bubbles below and mentioning your travel dates.
All requests sent on TourTheTropics.com are direct to the lodge owners and operators. This provides you the most up to date and accurate information.
A Visual Guide for the Best Time to Visit Puerto Maldonado
Iquitos is the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest of northern Peru. Iquitos is the entry point if you’re considering a cruise on the Amazon River. For more information, you can see the Iquitos Travel Guide.
Iquitos was Peru’s main rubber boom city and one of the largest in Amazonia. This is where the rise of the automobile and bicycle in distant lands drew entrepreneurs and businessmen from all over the world. They all wanted a share of the rubber tapping trade.
The rubber boom grew the city of Iquitos from humble beginnings. Eventually, it led to rubber barons decorating their mansions with the finest materials the world could provide.
These extravagant buildings still make some fascinating sights as you walk the Iquitos streets. Many of the mansions have been converted to hotels, offices, restaurants, museums and even a supermarket.
The Best Time to Visit Iquitos, Peru
Because I Because Iquitos is in the world’s tropics, Iquitos makes a fantastic place to visit year round.
The temperature stays relatively constant at around 32°C (90°F) and falls back down to about 22°C (72°F) at night. You can expect mostly sunny days. When it does rain, it often falls in the afternoon and the rain often clears by the following morning
Remember that in the tropics the greatest change in temperature is between day and night rather than between months.
Also to point out, officially the city of Iquitos doesn’t even have a dry season. There is a slight change in the intensity of rain, but you should be prepared for wet weather whenever you choose to visit.
- The wetter season in Iquitos is between October/November – April/May with the wettest month being April.
- The drier season in Iquitos is from April/May – September/October. The driest period is often around August or September
One of the most important changes between months in Iquitos is the high and low water season.
Although the water rises over the wet season, instead of being linked to wet weather, the river’s height is actually linked to snowmelt from the Andes mountains.
The water level is important, as it will have the most influence over the activities you will be doing in the rainforest.
For example, during the high water season, a higher amount of the forest is flooded. This means the ground is muddier and you will be exploring the Amazon on more boat and canoe expeditions.
Note that the wetter season is also when the forest fruits and flowers. This is when it can be easier to find a diversity of monkeys and birds, as they will be feeding on the abundant food supply.
The benefit of the drier season is that terrestrial water is more limited, which concentrates the wildlife around these areas. As there is less rain, there can be more opportunities to find animals and plants.
As you can see, both times can be great for wildlife viewing. The most important consideration is the lodge, cruise and tour you take. We have selected our recommendations below.
A recommended rainforest lodge for the Iquitos Amazon Rainforest is the Tahuayo Lodge. This combines two fantastic lodges to explore the highly diverse Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
Click the tour bubble below to learn more about this much-loved lodge and their Amazon tours.
And here’s a summary as a visual guide for the best time to visit Iquitos, Peru.
A Visual Guide for the Best Time to Visit Iquitos
The Best Time to Visit Lima
Lima (Peru’s capital city) is often the gateway to Peru and the country’s other areas. Because of this, it’s best to plan your journey for Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the Amazon Rainforest.
However, it’s worth noting what the temperature and weather will be in Lima, as you may be here for a night or two either side of your vacation.
Lima is a very dry city and rarely experiences wet weather. The temperature in Lima between December and April is around 25°C (77°F) and then 19 to 22°C (66 to 72°F) between May and November. Nights over the winter months can get down to 13°C (55°F).
The Best Time To Visit Peru – Summary
If you would like to combine the Sacred Valley of the Incas with the Amazon Rainforest, a recommended month is April.
April is just after the wet weather in Cusco and just before peak season when you will expect the most crowds. The rain has also left Machu Picchu a beautiful green.
Although April is the wettest month for Iquitos, April is just before the cold spells for Puerto Maldonado. And it’s during the part of the year with the best macaw activity at the claylicks.