Before you leave for your big trip to Peru, there are a series of packing dilemmas you have to get through first. To figure out what to pack for a trip to Peru, it is of course important to know what the weather in Lima and the rest of Peru will be like. This is surprisingly not an easy question to answer. Most visitors probably know that the seasons are reversed in Peru, which means the summer holidays in the US or Europe are during winter in Peru.
Peru has 90 different microclimates, including 30 of the 32 world climates, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world in microclimates. The three main regions, coast, mountains and jungle also contain the three main climates. The coast has a subtropical climate and very little rainfall (most of the coast is desert). The Andes region has a cool-to-cold highland climate while the Amazon region has a tropical, equatorial climate that’s hot all year round.
While officially it’s summer in the entire country from roughly November to March, locals would refer to these months as winter in Andes and Amazon, although it would be more accurate to call them rainy season. This means that the best months to visit the Andes or Amazon regions are in Peruvian Winter or dry season (April-October).
Weather in Lima
Lima has excruciatingly hot summers, although temperatures usually don’t go much higher than 30 degrees Celsius. It’s the sun that makes some days unbearable to be outside. The UV index is constantly at extremely high levels and you can literally feel the sun burn your skin. It goes without saying that sunscreen with a high factor, sun glasses, a hat and a bottle of water are necessary accessories if you visit Lima during summer. Even if the day seems overcast, believe me, you can still burn. Unfortunately, we’ve all had to learn this by experience. Learn from our mistakes and don’t make our suffering have been in vain.
But what about winter in Lima? How harsh are Lima’s winters? That’s a very tricky question. If you check the weather forecast for Lima in July, it will show an average temperature of 19 degrees Celsius. For outsiders, that seems very comfortable, perhaps even allowing shorts and a T-shirt. I just had a friend in the US ask me what the weather in Lima is like in June/July. I told her it’s winter and quite chilly, even though the average temperature is 19 degrees Celsius. She grinned and said mockingly, that’s not cold (she lives in a northern state where temperatures in winter can be -20 degrees). That was also my reaction when my then-boyfriend, now-husband tried to explain Lima’s winters to me. I only realized he was right when I was for the first time in Lima during winter. It does really feel cold! The humidity gets underneath your skin and it’s really hard to warm up. Plus, there’s usually no heating or proper insulation in most buildings and houses, even the nicer ones, so there’s no way to warm up except by taking a hot shower. Our advice is to wear layers if you go on tour, because if the sun does come peeping it all of a sudden feels a lot warmer. Don’t be fooled by the weather forecast and bring a sweater and even a light jacket.
So, what to pack for a trip to Peru?
A bit of everything, I’m afraid. The keywords are ‘layers of clothes’. If you visit the Andes, you’ll need to bring warm clothes since nights are very cold all year round. However, during the day, when the sun is out and you’re walking a lot, you’ll likely feel too hot to wear a sweater. Whichever season you come to Peru, you’ll need to use sunscreen, during summer in Lima and all year round in Andes and Amazon. When you visit Lima between November and March, you’ll definitely want to wear summer clothes.