Best time to visit Peru
Choosing the best time to volunteer in Peru is not just about the weather. Did you know that Peru is so big and geographically diverse that it is home to no less than 28 of the world’s 32 official climate zones? Depending on where you want to go in Peru, it pays to know a bit about the weather for your visit.
Even when it’s cold or wet there are very good reasons to come to Peru at any time of year. From spectacular religious parades and lively street parties to some of Mother Nature’s very own magnificent shows. Is it best to come in the dry season or the rainy season?
Here’s our handy low down on what’s happening throughout the year in Peru to help you with your planning. After all, you have enough things to busy yourself with while planning your life-changing trip.
So when is the best time to volunteer in Peru for you?
July to September
Now, many people will tell you that this is not a great time to come to Peru. It’s winter and a thick blanket of mist and cloud can sweep in from the Pacific and descend for weeks on end. Don’t listen to them! The good news is that this meteorological phenomenon only affects the coast and in particular Lima. None of our projects are in Lima so you only have to worry about surviving the dismal grey if you spend time there on the way through!
High up in the Andes in Cusco is where our Peru Community Project, Peru Dog Rescue project, and Peru Horse Sanctuary project are located. Winter here may mean very cold nights, but it also means lovely warm sunny days with impossibly blue skies. Perfect for sports and other outdoor games with children at our community project. And of course for walking the dogs at the dog rescue project or working with the horses at the Horse Sanctuary project. For many, this is the best time to volunteer in Peru due to no rain and beautiful clear skies.
End of July sees the annual celebrations for Peruvian Independence Day. This means colourful street parades and even Peruvian horse exhibitions if you are lucky. August also sees the week long annual fiesta in Oropesa, location of our after-school education project. A great excuse for enjoying Oropesa’s festivities or even for squeezing in a bit of extra sightseeing? You could easily hop on a cheap flight to Puerto Maldonado and visit the Amazon rainforest…
The Peruvian Amazon and El Friaje
The jungle is home to our Peru Rainforest Wildlife and Peru Amazon Conservation projects. July and August in the jungle can be the best time to volunteer in Peru. It is a bit cooler and less humid than usual and mainly dry which makes outdoor work much more enjoyable. What’s more, when the river levels are lower you are more likely to see river dwelling animals. Turtles come onto the river beaches to nest and the you may see the rare giant river otter.
It’s also the time of year when you re most likely to see flocks of American swallow-tailed kites flying north to escape the southern winter. Trees and plants also burst into bloom with purple jacaranda, yellow pashaco and pink capoc flowers turning the jungle into a riot of colour.
This is also the time of year when the jungle can experience a phenomenon known as “el friaje”. This is when cold southerly winds can bring short spells of bizarrely chilly weather to the jungle. It makes a refreshing change but it can be cold at night so pack some warm clothes just in case. Even the animals at the project receive blankets and hot water bottles!
October to December
This is officially spring time for most of Peru so generally temperatures are getting a bit warmer. Don’t forget that in equatorial regions it also means that the weather can turn more showery. Although in recent years in Cusco it has stayed dry and sunny right through to December. Best to bring a rain jacket just in case.
The days are also a bit longer as we head for midsummer and there are usually fewer tourists around. This means it’s easier to get a table in the most popular restaurants! Transport costs can be lower and it’s definitely easier to get those prize-winning photos at the many spectacular Inca ruins in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Down in the jungle in November until February is the season of new birth. So if you want to increase your chances of seeing and even working with new born animals at our two Amazon rainforest projects, now is the time to visit.
Christmas and New Year
Peru is a Catholic country which means that Christmas is very big in Cusco. Christmas Eve sees the beautiful Plaza de Armas filled with stalls selling all manner of gifts and crafts. It’s traditional to buy the figures for your Nativity Scene right here at the market.
Another Christmas tradition is the “chocolatada” where huge cauldrons of spiced hot chocolate are served with sweet panetone. It’s usually an opportunity for the better off to host chocolatadas for the less well off. And Globalteer is delighted to do just that for the children at our community projects in Cusco each year.
New year is very lively in Cusco with thousands of tourists descending on the town to ring out the old and ring in the new. So if partying is your thing this might be a good time to visit. If you are planning on volunteering with us over Christmas or New Year, do bear in mind that our Cusco-based community projects close for a few days. But that could just give you the perfect opportunity to plan some sightseeing around this amazing country. Just be sure to check exact dates with our staff before you book anything. Our Amazon wildlife and conservation projects are open for business all year round!
January to March
Now this is the best time to visit coastal Peru if you are looking for warmth and sunshine. Great for a bit of time relaxing at the beach or hanging out in trendy oceanside Miraflores in Lima. Our volunteer projects are in the jungle and up in Cusco where this is the wet season! But don’t let that put you off completely.
Cusco is much quieter at this time of year. Although the Inca Trail is closed for conservation work for all of February, you can still visit Machu Picchu. This time of year, you are less likely to have to share sites with too many tourists! The ancient Inca citadel does have a certain visual appeal with a cobalt blue sky. But don’t forget that it is located in a rainforest so can be cloaked in cloud at any time of year. Of course it has a sublimely mystical air when shrouded in swirling mist.
At our jungle-based wildlife rescue and rainforest conservation projects this is the hottest and rainiest time of year. Unquestionably the best the time to see the jungle in typically tropical weather. There is also a very good chance to see animals nursing their young. Be aware that the roads to the wildlife rescue centre can become extremely muddy. But if you have a sense of adventure and don’t mind last minute changes of plan, you can always get to the centre by boat.
The good thing about rain in the rainforest - and in Cusco for that matter – is that it rains like it really means business! It couldn’t be more different from the depressing grey drizzle we know and love in more temperate regions. Downpours can be truly torrential and the storms are seriously spectacular. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a real tropical thunderstorm! It usually only rains late afternoons so the days can still be pretty nice.
If the weather is a concern don’t forget that you have to fly through Lima to get to and from both Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. So you could always finish off your volunteering trip with a few days by the ocean in Lima where the weather should be just peachy at this time of year.
Now, Cusco’s patron is El Senor de Los Temblores, whose feast is celebrated every year on the Monday before Easter. It commemorates the great earthquake of 1650 when more than 400 tremors in 24 hours convinced all God-fearing Cusquenans that judgement day had arrived.
Eventually the faithful carried out the statue of the black Christ from the cathedral and miraculously the earth ceased shaking. On his feast day the same statue is carried through the streets on a hefty ornate silver platform. Brass band music and slow deliberate drum beats fill the air for the parade. The streets are packed for this amazing and deeply moving religious spectacle - you could be there too!
April to June
For both the jungle and Cusco this is probably the best time to volunteer in Peru. The weather in both areas is clear and sunny and the heat and cold are not too extreme in either location! In May the jungle air becomes so clear that you can even see the snow-capped peaks of the high Andes from near our two rainforest projects.
This is also peak time of year for festivals in Cusco. Easter sees processions and parades throughout Holy Week. The ninth Thursday after Easter is the festival of Corpus Christi. This is when the statues of fifteen saints from all around Cusco are carried through the streets on more ornate, giant silver and gold platforms. It’s another magnificent religious Spectacle – and excuse for a party - and well worth timing a trip to Cusco for.
Cusco's biggest festival - Inti Raymi
Finally, in June, Cusco celebrates the most important Inca festival of the year: Inti Raymi. This world renowned festival is a re-enactment of the ancient Inca rites of the winter solstice. Thousands of people dress in traditional costume for the privilege of taking part in the day long festivities. Starting in the morning at the Temple of the Sun near Globalteer’s office. The celebrations move first to the Plaza de Armas and culminate at the Inca fortress of Sacsaywaman overlooking the city. For many, this is the best time to volunteer in Peru, just to experience the amazing festivals in June.
People come from the world over for this superb festival – so why not time your volunteer trip with bit of Inca culture? It’s not too early to book your trip now…
So there you have it. There really isn’t a bad time to visit Peru. So when is the best time to volunteer in Peru for you? If you are still unsure about when to come, then you can always e-mail one of our staff who will be happy to help. In the meantime why not read more about our Peru Volunteer projects...?
It’s surely not a case of if you come to this wonderful country, but when!
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