Peru is a fantastic destination to experience South American history, culture, 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.
Because of the diversity on offer, the best time to visit Peru depends on the things you want to do and see.
You can also enjoy interesting cities, Cloud Forest, and one of the largest areas of Amazon Rainforest. A fantastic area to explore with different comfortable jungle lodges and river cruises, the Amazon covers 40% of the South American continent.
Peru is fortunate to contain some of the best lodges and cruises for an Amazon experience.
Because Peru’s main attractions are across different temperature zones and at different altitudes, the best time to visit Peru will depend on what you are doing and where you plan to visit.
We have written this guide to help you decide the best time to visit Peru for the specific 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 enjoy the Amazon Rainforest.
Cusco and Machu Picchu
The main attraction for many people in Peru is the incredible Incan monument of Machu Picchu. The monument draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year to see the beautiful 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 to 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. 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 lots of crowds and rainy weather. The rain doesn’t only bring wet weather, but also worse visibility of the fantastic views.
Note that 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 from mid-November to April. Note that 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 more detailed look at the best time to visit Machu Picchu with summary information for each month, you can see our guide.
If you’re interested in visiting during peak season but still want to visit the sight with fewer crowds, we recommend the package tours from the Sanctuary Lodge for Machu Picchu. The Sanctuary Lodge is a luxury hotel very close to Machu Picchu itself.
If you’re interested in some of these high-end Machu Picchu tours to make the most of your visit, one suggestion is the Belmond Essential Peru Tour.
A Visual Guide for When to Visit Cusco
The Manu Cloud Forest
As Peru’s cloud forest for the Manu region is accessible from Cusco, the same points are also true for Manu’s cloud forest as for Cusco. However, the regular departures operate from April to October. The cloud forest and lowland rainforest can be enjoyed on the Manu Bio Trip or Manu Macaws & Tapir Tour. You can also choose to focus on the Manu Cloud Forest at the fantastic Cock of the Rock Lodge. This is an excellent choice for bird watching, seeing many hummingbirds, and seeing diverse orchids and other plant-life.
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 monkeys, caiman crocodilians, pink river dolphins, rarely sighted jaguar, large and bulky tapir, colorful parrots, iconic toucans, and other beautiful birds.
You will also be treated to giant trees, high perching bromeliads, delicate orchids, and other beautiful flowers. The protected areas of Amazonia also offer some incredible scenery.
To experience Peru’s Amazon Rainforest, the recommended Amazon gateways are Iquitos in the north and Puerto Maldonado in the south.
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Puerto Maldonado is located just a short flight from Cusco, which makes it an ideal destination to combine with Machu Picchu. For more information, you can see our Puerto Maldonado Travel Guide.
As another great feature of this rainforest gateway, Puerto Maldonado is home to the most thought out tourism infrastructure in Amazonia. This means it’s a great place to choose a tour and there are different Puerto Maldonado Amazon lodges to choose from.
Enjoy an area with more claylicks than anywhere else in South America and some breathtakingly beautiful oxbow lakes. The lakes here are often home to threatened giant river otters, prehistoric-looking birds, and giant freshwater fish.
Monkeys are also frequently spotted visiting the lake edges during the morning.
Not only home to some fantastic lodges, the rainforest of Puerto Maldonado represents 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
Although the temperature in Puerto Maldonado is tropical year round, remember that tropical lowland areas often 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.
One of the two main points about Puerto Maldonado is the wet season and dry 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 cause more probability 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.
Another point about weather, which is specific to Puerto Maldonado, is that you can expect some 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.
However, as Puerto Maldonado is the best place to watch claylicks in South America where macaws and other parrots gather on the riverbank, there are some better months to visit for this activity.
Generally speaking, claylicks experience less activity over the drier season and specifically from May to July. But there are a lot of factors involved, so it’s best to contact the recommended tours directly using the links below and mentioning your travel dates.
All requests sent on TourTheTropics.com send your questions directly to the lodge owners for the best 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 to be a part of the rubber tapping trade.
The rubber boom grew the city of Iquitos from humble beginnings and eventually led rubber barons to decorate their exuberant 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 now been converted to hotels, offices, restaurants, museums, and even a supermarket.
The Best Time to Visit Iquitos, Peru
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
As with all tropical places, remember that 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, which consists of two lodges to explore the highly diverse Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve.
As a summary, below is 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
As Lima (Peru’s capital city), is often simply the gateway to Peru and the country’s other areas, it’s best to plan your journey for Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and the Amazon Rainforest.
But it’s also 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, which is the recommended minimum itinerary for Peru, 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 during some of the months with the best macaw activity at the claylicks.
However, it’s always best to contact the tour directly to ask, as the dry season and wetter months vary by a few weeks from year to year.
April is also at the start of regular activity for the Manu region and is when you can enjoy the most activities. For example, the luxurious Belmond Adventurous Peru Tour, which operates from April through to November.