We’ve all been there…..the moment we are ready to pack and we look at everything we have and ask “what the hell do I pack?”
If you’re heading to one destination with only one type of weather, say the Caribbean, then the task of knowing what to pack becomes much easier. But if your plan is to backpack in Peru, then it all becomes that much more of a shitty task.
Peru is definitely a country worth travelling, there is no denying that. Rich in history, beautiful landscapes, and a whole lot of a variety of animals, Peru is one of every backpacker’s favorite destination in South America. But with the Coast, the Amazonian jungle, and the Andes between these two, you may and will encounter several changes in temperature, many times in the same city, which makes us get back to the question of “what the hell do I pack?”
The coast of Peru is divided between the northern, central and the southern coast. The northern coast includes everything from the city of Tumbes all the way down to Trujillo. The central and southern coast observe similar temperature throughout the year.
The Northern Coast
Climate here is extremely hot during the summer months (December to March), with temperature sometimes exceeding the 30°C mark. It is not rare for there to be some rainfall at night, albeit not significant. However recent climate changes have caused for phenomena like El Niño to bring heavy rainfall and flooding during the summer of 2017.
The winter months are very comfortable and warm, with the absence of rain.
If travelling through the northern coast, pack light and pack summer clothes. Bermudas, shorts, swimming gear, sandals, and the like. Don’t forget the sunscreen!!!
Central & Southern Coast
The central and southern coast cities of Peru have milder temperatures than in the north, and a more pronounced winter season (without it really being cold). Summer temperatures can reach up to about 28°C on really hot days, and a low of about 15°C in the winter months. There is almost no rain during summer, with a few drops (mainly in the for of mist) during winter.
If travelling during the summer months, pack your summer gear as temperatures can get hot, especially in Lima and the desert in Ica.
The winter months will require you to bring some long sleeves for cutting down the cold at night, however nothing too thick if you’re thinking of staying in the coast only.
If you are travelling to Peru, chances are that you plan to visit the Andes. Machu Picchu, Arequipa, Huaraz…Peru has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, and much of these are located in the highland regions.
Because the exact temperature will vary from one city to another depending on altitude, I will generalize in terms of average temperatures. However it is important to know that the higher a city, the biggest the variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures. The temperature can vary so much that a single cloud covering the sun will make you feel suddenly cold.
The Andean regions are characterized by two main seasons, rainy season and dry season.
Rain sticks its ugly head between September and March, with the highest precipitations happening in the months of January, February and March.
The highest temperatures during rainy season are between 15°C and 20°C, and the lowest temperature is of about 8°C to 10°C.
If you plan to do some trekking, a good rain jacket which also covers against the wind is your best option. Cargo pants which you can zip and unzip the legs are a best bet here as well. Up in the mountains the temperature changes quickly and often, so it is good to have something to cover against possible rainfalls and sudden changes in temperature.
Dry season also happens to be the most touristy season in the Peruvian highlands, and it runs from May to August.
Temperatures are drier and colder, even more so at night and in the mornings. Maximum temperatures during dry season are of about 17°C, and the minimum temperatures are of about 4°C. However it is not rare for temperatures to go below 0°C.
If travelling during dry season, pack warm clothing. During hikes I normally wear two layers of jackets, which permits me to take one off should temperatures rise and quickly put it back on when it gets cold. In the city, some locally purchased alpaca sweaters are the best to keep warm.
I could easily resume this area as hot and sticky. The amazon rainforest cities are for the most part very hot all year round, and they experience a large amount of rain. Temperatures can reach up to 35°C on very hot days. Within the jungle, the humidity can make temperatures feel higher.
For your trip to the amazon make sure you pack many t-shirts, as you will be changing them twice a day because of the heat. Also, a light rain jacket will come in handy.
For the jungle, same rules apply, but don’t forget your mosquito repellent. Spray it both on you and on your clothes to keep mosquito bites to a minimum (they will bite you regardless, but at least you can minimize the annoyance). Your best bet is to buy a mosquito repellent combined with sun screen.
What Else To Pack
A good pair of hiking shoes goes without saying. You will be doing a fair amount of walking and hiking, especially in the Andes area, and good shoes are a must to not hate yourself at the end of the day.
Does this mean that you have to pack everything before you go?
If you have it and it fits, then pack it. There is nothing better than not having to make additional purchases before a trip.
If you don’t have it, no worries. Anything you’re missing can be purchased once in Peru, and possibly at a cheaper cost than back at home.
Peru has so many areas with so many variances in weather that it’s difficult to predict what to pack. Did this list help you?