When we talk about the climate of Peru, we are talking about a HUGE diversity, up to the point that embraces eight of the eleven types, following Köppen climate classification system - Vladimir Peter Köppen, 1846-1940.
- semi warm and dry climate (subtropical, desert) along the coast and up to 2.000 m.a.s.l.
- very dry warm (arid tropical), most noticeable on the northern coast and up to 1.000 m.a.s.l.
- temperate sub-humid in the Andean valleys between 1.000 and 3.000 m.a.s.l.
- cold climate, in the Andes mountains, between 3.000 and 4.000 m.a.s.l.
- very cold climate (tundra) at altitudes between 4.000 and 5.000 m.a.s.l.
- gelid climate, at altitudes over 5.000 m.a.s.l.
- humid warm climate, in the low jungle between 40 and 400 m.a.s.l.
- very humid semi warm in the high jungle, at altitudes between 400 and 1.000 m.a.s.l.
Even though the country is located in the equatorial area of South America, the climate of Peru doesn't correspond to its geographical location, this is basically due to two factors, the Andes mountains range and two major offshore ocean currents, the Humboldt current - also known as Peruvian current - and the warm Panama current of El Niño coming down the Ecuadorian coast.
It's important to note that Peru's seasons run opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. According to this, the four seasons embrace...
- Autumn: March 22nd to June 21st
- Winter: June 22nd to September 22nd
- Spring: September 23rd to December 21st
- Summer: December 22nd to March 21st
Being one of the most geographically diverse countries in the continent, its varied landscape also make for distinct weather conditions. Changes in altittude are so extreme that you can go from freezing cold high up in the mountains to boiling sun in the coast. Furthermore, the coast itself experiences dramatic changes in temperature as you head down south.
In practical terms, particularly if you planning some Peru holidays, it's better to understand the climate of Peru according to its three geographical regions, so you can make an informed decision about where and when to go...
Coast: (La Costa)
The coastal region sprawls along de Pacific ocean, characterized by a narrow band of deserts and fertile valleys. With a warm-temperate climate. the central and southern coast has two distinct seasons, winter (April to October) and summer (November to March).
Summer is characterized by warm, moist and sunny conditions with lows between 18 and 22 °C (64.4 and 71.6 °F) and highs between 24 and 29 °C (75.2 and 84.2 °F), with little or no rainfall. Winter is characterized by overcast, with an almost permanent layer of fog which creates a particular mist known as garúa.
The northern coast - Tumbes a Piura regions - has a tropical climate with a temperature range from 14 to 38 °C (57.2 to 100.4 °F). Summer rainfall totals rarely exceed 200 mm, unless El Niño event occurs, which can provoke major floodings.
Highlands: (La Sierra)
The sierra has two seasons: summer (April to October) with sunny days, cold nights and little rain - this is the perfect time to visit - and winter (November to March), when it rains heavily. It starts in September and peaks between January and March.
Temperature in the Peruvian Andes is inversely proportional to altitude, varying from temperate (annual average of 18 °C / 64 °F) in the low-lying valleys to frigid (annual average below 0 °C / 32 °F) in the highest elevations. Over 4.000 m.a.s.l. it becomes very cold and even gelid.
Jungle: (La Selva)
It's Peru's largest region (about 60% of total), conformed by highland jungle or ceja de montaña, over 700 meters above sea level, and lowland jungle - less than 700 meters above sea level.
With equatorial climate,this region is hot and rainy most of the year. Like the sierra, the jungle has two distinct seasons. From November to March it rains frequently, while from April to October it is fairly dry, making it the best time for hiking and exploring its rivers.
Temperatures oscillate between 18 / 36 °C (64.4 / 96.8 °F) most of the year and rainfall varies between 1,000 and 4,000 mm per year.
Finally, let's have a look at the weather forecast for some of Peru's main cities...