Peru Weather, climate and geography

Weather & climate

Best time to visit

The weather in Peru varies according to area – the changes in altitude are so extreme that the climate goes from freezing snow in the mountains to boiling sun on the coast. Likewise, the coast covers such a large stretch of longitude that the temperature changes dramatically as you head further south.

On the coast winter lasts from June to September. The weather tends to be overcast and slightly damp at this time, but rarely very cold. It hardly ever rains in Lima nor most of the coast, except for Tumbes and Piura, which have tropical climates.

During June to September, the mountainous areas are often sunny during the day but cold at night. This is high tourist season and the best time to visit most regions. Rainy season in the Andes starts in September and peaks between January and March, and this is a dreadful and occasionally dangerous time to be hiking.

Heavy rains in the mountains and jungle last from December to April. It is rainy and hot for most of the year, but between March and September there are occasional cold surges which might require a jumper.

Required clothing

For travel in Peru, a variety of clothes are necessary. You will need very lightweight clothes for summer on the coast, and thermals, hats, gloves and ski jackets for winter up in the mountains. It can become freezing at night at altitude and remain hot and sticky through the nights in the jungle. Waterproof clothing is thoroughly recommended for the rainy season, because the heavens open very suddenly, and then it pours.

If you are travelling to the jungle you’ll need something protective and waterproof for your feet. For any mountain hiking you’ll need proper, supportive boots. If you’re spending time along the coast you’ll need sandals or flip-flops.

Geography

Peru is a large, mountainous country on the Pacific coast of South America that borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west. There are three natural zones:

The Costa region, which contains Lima (the capital), is a narrow coastal plain consisting of large tracts of desert broken by fertile valleys. The cotton, sugar and rice plantations and most of the so-far exploited oil fields lie in this area, as does the majority of the population. The best roads run along the coast, having straight, flat paths ahead of them, and travel times are usually good.

The highland Sierra contains the Andes, with peaks over 6,000m (20,000ft), most of the country's mineral resources (silver, zinc, lead, copper and gold) and the greater part of its livestock. Roads in this area wind up, down and around mountains, so travelling in this area is often time-consuming.

The Selva (jungle), an area of fertile, subtropical land, lies between the Andes and the borders with Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. The Amazonian jungle has vast natural resources. The absence of land communications, however, left the area largely uncharted until full-scale oil exploration began in 1973. Even today roads barely penetrate the region. Some areas are best reached by small plane.

Edited by Jane Duru
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