A diverse land of extremes, figuring out what to pack for your trip to Peru may seem like a daunting task. A seemingly never-ending list that somehow yields far more questions than answers, with one of the most popular being; should I take a backpack or suitcase? – starting your packing journey is never easy. Which is why we’re here to help.
The contrasting climate of Peru dramatically varies just like its landscapes with temperatures fluctuate during its different seasons. The change in altitude can be so extreme, ranging from freezing snow in the mountains to hot sun along the coast.
Coastal winter is typically from June to September. During this time the weather tends to be overcast and slightly damp, but rarely ever cold. It hardly ever rains in Lima or along most of the coast, except for Tumbes and Piura, which have tropical climates.
From June to September, the mountainous areas are often sunny during the day, with cold evenings. This is typically high tourist season and the best time to visit most regions across Peru. Rainy season in the Andes starts in September and peaks between January and March, making for challenging, and at times dangerous, trekking conditions.
Heavy rains in the mountains and jungle typically last from December to April. It is rainy and hot for most of the year, but between March and September there are occasional cold surges, which might require a warm jacket or jersey.
Summer (December to March): 17°C/63°F to 27°C/80°F
Winter (June to September): 14°C/57°F to 17°C/63°F
Backpack or suitcase?
This depends on what is more comfortable and convenient for you, and your travels. Many may prefer to travel with a wheeled suitcase as it is easier to wheel around than carrying a large 50 l backpack. If you are flying to your destination and staying in the same place for a couple days, a suitcase may be more convenient, however, if you are moving around from place to place, perhaps a backpack may better suit you. Whichever you choose, make sure to bring a small to medium-sized daypack to carry with you during your day explorations.
What to pack
If you are travelling to various regions across Peru, a variety of clothes are needed.
Lightweight clothes are recommended during the coastal summer, while thermals, hats, gloves and jackets for necessary for winter up in the mountains. Waterproof clothing is thoroughly recommended for the rainy season. If you are travelling to the jungle, it is necessary to have something protective and waterproof for your feet as well as something to keep you warm during the cold nights and cool during the hot, sticky days. For any type of hiking, you’ll need proper supportive boots while the coast calls for flip-flops and sandals. Sunscreen is always recommended no matter where you travel.
For the rainy season: November to April
No matter where you are in Peru, make sure you pack your supportive, waterproof hiking boots, raincoat or poncho, and an umbrella. Opt for lightweight, waterproof fabrics. At the same time of year, the desert coastal area, including Lima and the beaches in the north, are dry and warm. Lightweight-cotton clothing and swimwear are recommended. The Amazon rainforest is steamy with frequent rain showers; it is necessary to pack waterproof, lightweight clothing.
For the sunny season: May to October
Considered the most popular time to visit Peru, with some of the best weather, lightweight items such as shorts and t-shirts are ideal. However, it is good to remember that the higher in elevation you travel, the colder it is at night. So it’s best to still pack some warm clothes; jersey, long pants, and so on. Along the coast, temperatures are milder and the climate is more humid. A light jacket is advised on windy days, but otherwise, pack lightweight clothing and swimwear.
The ultimate packing list
- Lightweight clothing for layering: t-shirt and long-sleeve top / shorts and pants
- Fleece or thermal jacket / sweater
- Trekking / ski pants
- Raincoat or poncho
- Ski or winter jacket
- Underwear and socks (wool for hiking)
- Warm pajamas
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Supportive trekking shoes (waterproof is ideal)
- Flip-flops or sandals
- Wide brimmed sunhat / cap
- Toiletries and personal medication
- Altitude medications (please consult your physician)
- Bug spray
- Cross-body purse or small bag for city touring
- Daypack or small to medium-sized backpack for walking and hiking
- Camera and batteries
- Quick-dry towel