Packing for vacation can be a complicated task for any destination. But for a country as diverse as Peru, it is important to have a clear understanding of what you will need in your suitcase before you set off on your journey. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need about climates, seasons and regions and a checklist of essentials so you neither bring too much or too little.
Peru is divided into three natural geographic areas: the coast, the Andean region, and the lowlands. The climate in each area is noticeably different. Coastal regions experience a mild climate, the mountainous Andean regions are cool, and the lowlands to the east are more tropical and tend to be warm and humid.
What to wear in Peru
We must not forget that Peru’s seasons are opposite to those of the USA as Peru is located in the southern hemisphere. Due to its proximity to the Equator, Peru has two main seasons: the dry season (May-September) and the wet season (November – March). Curiously, the summer months in Peru are the wettest, and the winter months are the driest.
Dry season (May – September)
Winter in Peru is the driest season and therefore tends to be the peak season for tourism with minimum rainfall in these months. The average temperature at this time of year is between 64-68°F, but this may vary according to the region.
During the dry season, the coastal areas experience warm, dry weather with temperatures ranging between 59° and 66°F with very high humidity levels. Coastal areas must also contend with what is known as garúa, a seaside mist, which lowers the sensation of warmth. The mountainous regions, meanwhile, are cooler with temperatures between 60°F to 77°F, with little or no rain. With the persistent heat and humidity in the eastern lowlands, daytime temperatures can reach between 86°F to 100°F during the dry season. Showers, however, are frequent and can provide relief.
Rainy season (November – March)
Peru’s rainy season coincides with summer and is therefore the warmest season. Once again, climate and temperatures will vary from region to region. Along coastal areas, weather will be warm and dry with temperatures reaching between 77°F and 90°F. The sea breeze can make it chilly, especially at night. The mountain highlands will experience most rainfall, particularly in January, but will remain warm with temperatures peaking between 64°F to 68°F. The lowlands to the east are very hot and sticky at this time of year, with daytime temperatures oscillating between 86°F to 100°F. Heavy rainfall is frequent at this time of year and humidity levels are high.
What to wear for Cusco and Machu Picchu
When travelling to mountain regions, we must keep in mind the two very distinct seasons mentioned above. In Cusco, rain is abundant from December to April. At this time of year, it is recommended that you bring good footwear, such as walking boots, which will provide you with support and protection. Waterproof items at this time of the year are also essential, and can be expensive to purchase locally, which is why these should be high on your packing list. We must also factor in that the temperature range between peak day and nighttime can be noticeable. Bringing a sweater or two to stay warm at night is suggested as it can get chilly.
For getting to Machu Picchu, comfortable shoes are a must, as solid footwear is required when navigating the terrain and steep inclines on your way up and down. Weather in Machu Picchu can be inconsistent, therefore, good shoes, a rain jacket and a sweater are highly recommended.
What to pack for trekking
As with any kind of trek, good footwear, such as hiking boots, are a must. For the Salkantay trek, where there are high altitudes, glaciers and jungles, preparation is key and layers are a must. Pack something warm, such as an insulated windproof jacket and thermal undergarments for nighttime as temperatures can plummet due to proximity to the glacier. Base layers are important and breathable shirts are also ideal for during the day – not cotton. Light waterproof jackets are useful for the unpredictable weather. Water repellent pants are a necessity and sweatpants are a comfortable choice at night. Woolly hiking socks are recommended, particularly high socks to reduce friction of the hiking boots against your leg. A warm woolly hat and a baseball cap will provide day and night protection, and sunglasses will reduce strain on your eyes during the day. Insect repellent, toilet paper and soap or hand sanitizer are also necessities.
What not to bring to Peru
When traveling to any country, it is important to know what is permitted and what is prohibited in the country of your destination. Amongst restrictions in Peru are drugs, narcotics, certain pets, plant and animal feed, fireworks, weapons, and ammunition. Drones are permitted but must be declared upon entry.
Here is a list of items recommended for your trip to Peru:
- A rain jacket
- Waterproof pants
- Hiking boots, preferably broken-in
- A hat and a baseball cap
- Breathable t-shirts (not cotton)
- Sweatshirts & long sleeve base layers
- Thermal underwear
- Light socks & hiking socks
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Baby wipes
- Soap & hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Insect repellent