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Peru-medium Peru

Land of the Incas, and the Michelin-starred chefs

Where so much of South America stands out for its nature and landscapes, Peru also has an incredibly rich vein of human history. It is the cultural crossroads of South America. In every part of Peru, from the remote jungle north to the vast expanse of Lake Titicaca via the world beating cuisine of Lima, there is fabulous scenery, colourful culture and always a rich tale to tell. Take Machu Picchu. It is a testament to human endeavour and the culture of the Incas. What makes it so jaw dropping is that it’s set in the dramatic surroundings of the Andean cloudforest, teeming with birdlife, orchids and even bears. Peru has it all.

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Peru at a glance

Capital city

Lima

Famous highlights

Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, Nazca Lines

Hidden gems

Manu National Park, the Andes, Kuelap

Language(s)

Spanish, Quechua, Aymara (official)

Food & drink

Ceviche, lomo saltado, arroz con pollo, anticuchos, pisco sour

How far?

15 hours from London to Lima (shortest flight time, one stop)

Currency

Nuevo Sol & US dollar (US$1 = 3 Soles)

Timezone

GMT -5

When to go to Peru

January weather in Peru

With hot and dry weather along the coast, this is a good time to visit Lima, Trujillo, and the beaches around Tumbes. The summer is the rainy season in the Andes, so expect short but heavy showers most days. Whilst the Inca Trail is open you are likely to get very damp sleeping in a tent for three nights, so Machu Picchu is best visited by train, or perhaps by doing the one-day ‘Royal’ Trail, which doesn’t involve camping. It is also the rainy season in the Amazon: with hot and humid weather and lots of mosquitoes, this is not a comfortable time of year to go.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 20 4 Best
Andes 17 4 154 Okay
Amazon 31 22 283 Okay
January events in Peru

January 18: Anniversary of Lima
January 20-30: Marinera Dance Festival, Trujillo

February weather in Peru

Avoid the Amazon and Andes in February if you can. With heavy rains all month, the Inca Trail is closed and train services to Machu Picchu are often disrupted. If you do happen to be here, don’t miss La Candelaria up by Lake Titicaca - one of the biggest festivals of the year. This is the peak season for the beaches around Tumbes, and along the coast south of Lima.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 27 20 2 Best
Andes 17 4 136 Okay
Amazon 31 22 249 Okay
February events in Peru

February 1-15: Virgen de la Candelaria, Lake Titicaca

March weather in Peru

In the Andes and Amazon, most days see heavy showers so if you are travelling in March aim for the end of the month when the rain starts to drop off. March marks the end of the summer holidays in Peru and is the last peak month for locals escaping the capital for the summery weather on beaches to the south and north.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 26 20 3 Best
Andes 17 4 120 Okay
Amazon 31 22 227 Okay
March events in Peru

March 5: Anniversary of Trujillo
March 6-15: Ica Wine Festival

April weather in Peru

As winter approaches, the Andean dry season begins. This is a lovely time to hike the Inca Trail. The mountain landscapes are lush and green, and night-time temperatures are relatively mild for camping. In the Amazon, April marks the start of the drier season here too but tropical showers are always a possibility. The weather along the coast starts to feel cooler now.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 25 18 2 Best
Andes 18 3 46 Good
Amazon 31 21 169 Good
April events in Peru

April 12-18: Peruvian Paso Horse Festival, Pachacamac (Lima)
April 18: Anniversary of Chiclayo

May weather in Peru

One of our favourite times to be in the Andes: the weather is generally sunny, the landscapes are green, and it is not too cold. May is a good time to explore the Amazon as it is one of the driest months of the year, but with river levels still nice and high. In Lima, mistier weather starts to roll in making it feel cool and a bit damp until about November. Elsewhere along the coastal strip, the cooler weather is ideal for exploring colonial cities and archaeological sites.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 22 17 5 Good
Andes 18 0 8 Best
Amazon 30 20 84 Best
May events in Peru

May 1: Festival of the Virgen de Chapi, Arequipa

June weather in Peru

In the Andes, the weather is clear and sunny during the day but temperatures drop sharply at night so pack warm clothing if you are camping. Cusco is at its most festive during the week of Inti Raymi, the city’s biggest celebration of the year. In the Amazon, the weather is hot but less humid, so mosquitoes are less of a problem. This is the driest time of year throughout the coastal strip – though Lima’s skies are grey, you can expect reliably clear weather elsewhere.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 21 16 9 Good
Andes 18 -2 2 Best
Amazon 30 19 49 Best
June events in Peru

June 2: Qoyllor Riti Pilgrimage, Ausangate (Cusco)
June 24: Inti Raymi, Cusco

July weather in Peru

This is one of the most popular times to visit Peru as the northern hemisphere’s school holidays coincide with the best weather in the Andes and Amazon. Daytimes in the Andes are warm and sunny but it gets very cold when the sun goes down. In the Amazon, the weather will be hot during the day but cool enough for a light sweater at night. In Lima, the weather is unremittingly cold, damp and grey during the height of winter, so don’t spend long here! The rest of the coast is usually sunnier, but will still feel quite cool.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 19 16 12 Good
Andes 17 -3 3 Best
Amazon 30 18 45 Best
July events in Peru

July 15-17: Virgen del Carmen Festival, Paucartambo (Cusco)
July 28-29: Fiestas Patrias (Independence): throughout Peru

August weather in Peru

Another great month for clear and dry weather in the Andes and Amazon, but expect popular destinations like Cusco and Machu Picchu to be more crowded. Along the coast, August is the coldest month of the year. From now until October, whale sightings are common along the north coast.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 19 15 13 Good
Andes 18 -1 8 Best
Amazon 32 19 38 Best
August events in Peru

August 2: Corpus of San Cristobal, Cusco

September weather in Peru

September is an excellent time to travel to the Andes and Amazon as the crowds lessen. In the Andes the weather is still sunny and the nights start to feel warmer, whilst down in the Amazon this is the last month with relatively low rainfall. The climate is cool throughout the coast and September is an interesting time to be in Lima as it celebrates its annual food festival.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 20 15 9 Good
Andes 18 1 23 Best
Amazon 32 20 92 Best
September events in Peru

September 4-13: Mistura Food Festival, Lima

October weather in Peru

The weather is still sunny in the Andes, but bring a raincoat as thundery afternoon showers are common later in the month. Rivers are at their lowest level in the Andes and Amazon and rainy spells increase as the dry season comes to an end. October is a religious month in Lima, with thousands of devotees of the Lord of Miracles attending processions through the city’s colonial downtown.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 21 16 7 Good
Andes 19 3 40 Best
Amazon 33 22 192 Good
October events in Peru

October 28: Senor de los Milagros, Lima
October 31: Cancion Criolla Day, Lima

November weather in Peru

Expect changeable weather with sunny and rainy spells throughout the Andes. In the Amazon, rains become more frequent but rarely last for long. Along the coast, the weather starts to warm up again though not quite enough for the beach to be a good prospect yet.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 23 17 5 Good
Andes 19 3 68 Good
Amazon 32 22 209 Okay
November events in Peru

November 1: Day of the Dead (regional)

December weather in Peru

In the Andes, December is an unpredictable month. Once firmly within the rainy season, it is now possible to enjoy several days of sustained dry weather at a time, so it can be worth the risk to hike the Inca Trail at this time of year. Cusco is particularly festive around Christmas and New Year. In the Amazon, longer spells of wet weather are likely, whereas along the coast December is generally considered to be the start of summer so it’s out with the bathing suits.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Coast 25 19 3 Best
Andes 18 4 116 Good
Amazon 32 23 264 Okay
December events in Peru

December 24: Santuaranticuy Fair, Cusco
December 31: New Year’s Eve: Cusco, nationwide

Top 7 things to do in Peru

See Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

Sitting quietly at the Sun Gate and watching the warm afternoon sun light up the citadel of Machu Picchu is one of those moments that you never forget. No matter how often you see its picture, nothing prepares you for your first sight of this extraordinary monument, left to us by a lost civilisation in the heart of the wildest of landscapes.

If you can get here on foot, do. Following ancient trails through the Andes in the footsteps of the Incas is a very special experience.

Delve into Manu National Park

Stand at the very edge of the Andes mountain range and look out across the vast Amazon rainforest, two miles below, as it stretches out to the distant horizon. This is the entrance to Manu National Park, a spectacular wilderness area believed to have more wildlife diversity than anywhere else on Earth.

The journey there is an adventure in itself, travelling by way of high Andean passes, dense cloud forest and a remote jungle. Once inside Manu’s pristine rainforest interior, the wildlife is mesmerising.

From the bright flash of a macaw flying over the treetops to an elusive jaguar crossing a river, Manu is a place where memories are made.

Sail across Lake Titicaca

Clouds seem strangely close when you sail out into the vast expanse of Lake Titicaca. This high-altitude inland sea, ringed by the snow-capped peaks of Peru on one side, Bolivia on the other, makes you feel very small indeed.

Such is the size of the lake that some of its remote islands are home to communities that developed in isolation from the mainland and still keep their unique and colourful traditions alive. The Incas believed Lake Titicaca to be their spiritual birthplace and it certainly feels like a place where legends are born.

Hike in the Andes

Cutting a slice right through Peru, the Andes can hardly be described as hidden. However, some of the world’s best hikes are hidden away amongst the high peaks and impassable valleys. That they are remote and challenging to reach makes them a tantalising prospect for those who love to hike little-trodden trails through pristine landscapes.

Take Salkantay, one of the sacred mountains of the Incas: a couple of days of high-altitude walking reward you with privileged views of its glacier-clad slopes. Even fewer people make the week-long trek to see one of the world’s most beautiful peaks – Alpamayo – with their own eyes.

Make time for Colca Canyon

Locals in traditional dress farm the pre-Inca terraces. The lush green valley is dotted with ancient villages before it narrows to become one of the deepest canyons in the world. This is one of the best places in the world to see Andean condors, and they can get very close.

Colca has a huge amount to offer: rich history and culture, beautiful landscapes, striking wildlife and some great hiking trails. For those who take the time to come and stay here, it is often an unexpected highlight.

This is an area where you can be active all day happily enjoy doing very little - perfect for some downtime after the Inca Trail. Why then, do most tours only stop off here for an hour or so on the way to Lake Titicaca?

Discover remote Kuelap

Watch the clouds roll in against the colossal stone walls of the ancient mountaintop fortress of Kuelap, and explore half-hidden buildings that the forest seems close to reclaiming.

As you wander through the ruins in the mist, you can easily imagine being the first person to stumble across this citadel, which lay hidden here for centuries, its origins linked to the mysterious Chachapoyas ‘cloud people.’

Though more than a century older than Machu Picchu, Kuelap is a relative secret, and that is how many people like it. Thanks to its remote location in the northern cloud forest of Peru, it still receives dozens, rather than thousands, of visitors a day.

Fly over the Nazca Lines

The sight of the enigmatic Nazca Lines – the spider, the monkey, the hummingbird – is almost otherworldly. The giant drawings on the flat Peruvian desert can only be seen from the sky, like a close encounter with an ancient civilisation. The great mystery remains, how could they conceive and execute these complex outline drawings which are up to 200m long?

The most famous symbols of the ancient cultures that flourished along the Peruvian coast over 5,000 years ago, the Nazca Lines help Peru gain the title the ‘Egypt of South America’.

Our top 5 memories of Peru

Can I have my ball back? 

The yellow ball lands with a splash in the dark water. The boys smiles wryly before whistling sharply to his sisters, conveniently paddling past our floating pitch. He says nothing as he dries the ball and places it back on the woven ground.

I found it hard enough to walk on the Uros reed islands of Lake Titicaca, at least without looking like Buzz Aldrin. Dribbling a ball was on a different plane of complexity. The boy bore me, his gangly teammate, with remarkable stoicism.

I guess if you live on a large floating mat in the middle of a lake at 3,800m then spontaneous kick-arounds are few and far between.

Archaeology in action

If only every Pre-Colombian ruin could be like this. The visitors exploring the site were outnumbered both by the llamas roaming around it, and the students excavating it. Wandering over for a casual chat with the lead archaeologist about his latest find marked out Kuelap as extraordinary in comparison to its famous Inca relations to the south.

Condors over Salkantay

We reached a flat ridge after a tough uphill section. Walking the Salkantay trail on a lovely clear sunny day with the snow-capped Mt Salkantay as a permanent backdrop is hard to beat, or so I thought.

But here on the plateau the entire Vilcabamba mountain range was embracing us. It was simply stunning - one of those moments in time when you know that you are experiencing something you will treasure forever.

We sat in silence looking up at the condors circling high above us. The mountains towered above in all directions.  We persuaded the guide to let us stay just a little bit longer.

Like an explorer

When dawn broke in the deep river valleys of the Andes, the light gradually illuminated the contours of the hills and glinted off the river snaking through the mountains, half a mile below. It was like standing in the pages of one of the classic explorers’ stories.

I was standing on an Inca terrace that had only recently been uncovered from centuries buried in the undergrowth. A lantern burned faintly further down the hillside, left by the archaeologists who would return later to continue their work.

For now, alone on the terraces, I stood there in the peace of the early morning and committed the view to memory.

Ceviche in Huanchaco

An early flight from Lima and a couple of hours clambering around a Moche temple had left us more than ready for ceviche when we reached Huanchaco.

I don’t know if it was the setting, the fish, or the cook – but watching the totora reed boats diving into the surf, and listening to the waves hit the beach below – Peruvians and gringos alike, we all swore it was the finest ceviche we’d ever tasted.

Our holidays to Peru

Peru-lake-titicaca-young-children-dressed-in-yellow-rowing-boat
Amazon, Inca Trail & Titicaca
Delve into the Amazon, stretch yourself to arrive at Machu Picchu on foot, and meet communities l...
Read more »
Peru-sacred-valley-group-mountain-biking
Inca Trail, Amazon & more
Discover Peru's adventure playgrounds as you paddle in the Amazon, ride bikes downhill past salt ...
Read more »
Peru-inca-trail-to-machu-picchu-guide-pointing-over-mountains2
Machu Picchu, Titicaca and Colca
From an insider’s tour of Lima to arriving at Machu Picchu after the crowds are gone and staying ...
Read more »
Peru-manu-sitting-by-waterfall
Cusco, Machu Picchu & Manu
New for 2015! Uncontrived interactions with local people, encounters with exotic wildlife and tim...
Read more »

Why us?

Because in Peru, we are most careful about the way we help people see what are magical and yet incredibly popular sites. The time we have spent there, visiting and living, means we know how to draw out the best of these places and that means more than just delivering you to the front door. Of course you want to see Peru but you also want to appreciate the country.

The way we do this is by working directly with local partners who are just as thoughtful as us, just as keen to share the best of Peru. We know and trust the people, the characters, who look after you and introduce you to their country.

It is these people who leave our clients with some of their fondest memories of Peru. Hosts and guests interact, and everyone comes away enriched. Ask chef Percy on the Inca Trail about his plans to send his children to university for instance, and you’ll see that this is travel, done right.

Looking out over the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru When to Go Map - February Peru When to Go Map - March Peru When to Go Map - January Peru When to Go Map - April Peru When to Go Map - May Peru When to Go Map - July Peru When to Go Map - August Peru When to Go Map - September Peru When to Go Map - October Peru When to Go Map - December Peru When to Go Map - June Peru When to Go Map - November Your first views of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail Condor floating on the thermals of the Colca Canyon Sunset over Lake Titicaca from the top of Suasi Island The road to Manu offers spectacular views across the cloud forest Walking along a ridge in front of Salkantay, Peru Nazca Lines hummingbird Circular ruins in the fortress of Kuelap Resting from a game of football on a reed island Llama at Kuelap ruins Walking the Salkantay trail Sunrise over the Andes Ceviche