Peru is most famous for the sacred archaeological site of Machu Picchu – visited each year by scores of intrepid hikers who brave the Inca Trail’s arduous slopes to explore the age-old ruins. But the country’s attractions extend far beyond the mystical allure of this legendary location, and include palm-fringed beaches, quaint Andean villages and archaeological treasures that predate Machu Picchu by hundreds of years – all imbued with the nation’s rich melange of indigenous and colonial cultures. Equally enticing are the exotic reaches of Peru’s Amazon rainforest, Lima’s superb eateries, exquisite architecture and effervescent nightlife, the glittering, mountain-ringed waters of Lake Titicaca, and the vibrant city of Cusco, referred to by the Incas as ‘the centre of the world’.
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.