Peru is a picturesque country steeped in a rich history and stunning mountain vistas. It’s home to the ruins of ancient Incan civilizations, beautiful beaches, the tallest sand dune in the world, the deepest canyon on Earth, and a part of the Amazon rainforest – which happens to be the largest rainforest on the planet. It’s also home to some of the most famous treks in South America.
If you’ve ever wanted to step into history atop Machu Picchu or take a photo with a llama amidst the vibrant colors of Rainbow Mountain, you’re not alone. These treks have captured people’s interest around the globe and have become some of the most popular Wildland Trekking trips among our customers. And, for more intrepid travelers, our Cordillera multi-day treks will take you away from the crowds and into some of the most impressive mountain backcountry out there. These treks promise a portered experience that’s approachable for beginner backpackers, yet challenging enough for our seasoned adventurers.
Imagine walking in a lush alpine valley, with guanacos grazing freely and towering mountains that reach up to 20,000 feet in the distance. Or, picture yourself quietly walking through morning mist as you admire the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, hidden deep in the Andes Mountains and shrouded in mystery for almost six centuries.
This is Peru. And we invite you to discover everything it has to offer on one of our portered multi-day trips, llama-supported treks, premium lodge-based experiences, or exhilarating day hikes into high altitudes.
When to Go
Peru is a very biodiverse country in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also infamous among travelers because of its extreme elevations, which often dictate the weather and pose an added challenge to hikers and backpackers.
Rather than talking about spring, summer, fall, and winter, it’s easier to define Peru’s climate as being in the dry season or wet season. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Peru will be during the dry season. However, that is different times of the year for different regions. For example, August is a great time to plan a Machu Picchu trek, while it could be quite gray and rainy in Lima and may have a lot of rain in the Cordillera Mountains.
To help make it easier to navigate Peru’s diverse climate, our all-inclusive multi-day Peru trips give you the chance to see the country’s sites in the best possible weather. Of course, we can never guarantee it’ll only be blue skies and sunny trails. But we like to put the odds in our favor when we can. We offer Machu Picchu treks from April to September, and offer our Cordillera treks to either Cordillera Blanca or Huayhuash in June and July. You can review the Wildland Trekking trip calendar to find all of our trip availability.
June – September is considered both the Andean summer and winter in Peru. If that’s confusing, don’t worry! You simply need to know that it’s the dry season – and that makes it high season. Most people plan their treks in July or August. That’s when prices are generally higher, and availability will be lower. So, booking in advance is absolutely necessary. You’ll see a lot more tourists during this time, but you’ll also have a better chance of good weather, which can make your 9-day trek a truly unforgettable experience.
Peak season offers mild daytime weather (68°F to 80°F) for your hike and the best chance of clear blue skies in Cusco and on all the Machu Picchu treks – including the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek. As you rise in elevation, though, the temperatures will get colder, and fog and rain become more likely.
Meanwhile, the rainy season in the Cordilleras begins a bit earlier and lasts a little longer. So, the peak season is from June to August. Additionally, if you plan to go to the Amazon before or after your trek, you’ll want to plan your trip toward the end of the high season. There’s a lot of rain and humidity in the rainforest all year, but the best temperatures are between 89°F and 98°F from June to October.
April/May and September/October are Peru’s two shoulder seasons for most major attractions. Temperatures range from 45°F to 75°F, and there tends to be more rain. But the trails to Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain will be open, and you’ll see slightly fewer people while you hike. This is often a great chance to get a lower rate on flights and will show you more sides to Peru’s mountain weather. But, as Peru becomes more of a popular destination (and depending on the weather that year), the peak season can be from the mid-end of May to the end of September. So, again, it’s always best to check before booking!
This timeframe is also the shoulder season for the Amazon jungle areas and Lima. The Amazon starts moving into high water rainy season between October and December and out of it between April and May. But the weather begins getting better in Lima. You’ll be moving into peak season here toward the end of the year.
December to March is the rainy season in most of Peru, including Machu Picchu, the Amazon, and the Cordillera mountains. Trekking can be difficult and, in some cases, dangerous. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed the entire month of February due to high rainfall. However, the ancient ruins at Machu Picchu are still open, and they still experience a large number of visitors throughout the entire year. Many tourists are limited to reaching the ruins by train, as trekking is often not an option during the low season.
Temperatures during low season range from 20°F to 45°F. Peru’s average rainfall is 30 inches a year, and most of it happens during this time. The only exception is Lima and the desert region, which see beautiful weather and are sunny from December to April.
Our portered treks range from six to ten days, striking the perfect balance of luxury and ‘roughing it.’ You get to enjoy stunning vistas, gourmet backcountry meals, and hike at a relaxed pace without having to worry about carrying a heavy backpack. Our porters will carry up to 30 pounds of your personal items and will have camp set up by the time you finish hiking each day. All you need to do is relax, take in the views, and get ready for another day of world-class trekking in the Cordilleras or to Machu Picchu.
The most exclusive way to see Machu Picchu is with our six-day lodge-based trek. It takes you through parts of the famous Inca Trail, through the iconic Sun Gate entrance and into other off-the-beaten-path parts of the Incan Empire. You will have a rewarding hike to the ruins while getting to experience wonderful Peruvian cuisine and cozy mountain lodges.
Our llama-supported trek to Rainbow Mountain isn’t an experience you’ll soon forget! You’ll spend nine days hiking alongside these lovable animals while conquering high altitudes (our high point is 16,560 feet!), learning about the Peruvian culture and taking in some of the most dramatic mountain views in the world. Our llamas are able to carry up to 30 pounds of your gear, allowing you to enjoy all of this without a big pack on your back.
Our Peru Day Hikes offer a way to see even more of this breathtaking country. You can discover Rainbow Mountain or Lake Humantay as a part of your Cusco-based tour with us from March to November. Both are moderate hikes led by our experienced team, with round-trip transportation from the trail and three meals included.
Need to Know
Getting Acclimated to Peru’s Elevation
One thing to keep in mind while trekking in Peru is that, even if you are in peak season, you are hiking at a high altitude. You’ll be at 5,000 feet of elevation or more (Rainbow Mountain and the Cordilleras reach up to around 15,600 feet above sea level). It can take your breath away – literally!
If you’ve never hiked at high altitudes before, there’s no way of knowing how your body will respond. In fact, many people don’t notice any changes, while others may experience a slight headache, stomachache, or shortness of breath. These are normal symptoms. But there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of being impacted by the altitudes in Peru.
Firstly, adding cardio to your training routine before your trek can strengthen your heart and lungs, which may help you keep your breath. Secondly, we recommend that you arrive in your starting city a day or two early (or more, if your schedule allows). Most people only need a couple of days to let their bodies adjust! Once you are there, eating small meals but more calories, drinking a lot of water, and taking naps when you feel tired will help your body recover faster. Lastly, you can bring the medication Acetazolamide as a backup.
We always recommend monitoring your body’s response and letting it adjust naturally before taking any medication. As we said, most people have no problems at all! Additionally, you can trust our team to take care of you. In addition to (literally) taking the weight off your shoulders with portered hikes, we rise at a steady pace during our treks, giving your body time to recover at each stage.
Primary Departure Cities For Peru Adventures
Our Machu Picchu and Rainbow mountain trips will begin and end in Cusco, Peru. All treks to the Cordillera Mountains will convene in Huaraz, Peru. Please remember that transportation to and from these cities is not included in the overall cost of your trip. However, a Wildland Trekking representative will meet you upon arrival in the city.
Travel Advice for Peru
Peru is a popular destination in South America that is considered fairly safe for tourists. As it is one of our international trips, you will be required to have a valid US passport and obtain a tourist visa upon entry. If you do not have a passport, or yours will expire within a month of your trip, it’s important to apply for one at least six months before your flight.
You will receive your visa when you arrive at customs at the airport. They will stamp your passport, allowing you to stay in the country for up to 90 calendar days. Citizens of the United States do not need any additional permits or visas.
Transportation and Lodging
Your accommodations before and after the trip – as well as your bus or flight to our meeting point – are not included in the cost of your tour. Those going to Cusco before our trips will find no shortage of hotels, hostels, Airbnbs, and homestays at every price point. Huaraz is also a sizable city (over 100,000) and will have plenty of options, though some may not cater to English-speakers as much.
If you are traveling during peak season, it’s best to start making your reservations as soon as you book your Wildland Trekking tour!
Peru has become a popular tourist destination, and flight prices may vary depending on how far in advance you book, what time of year, and into which airport you arrive. It’s always a good idea to start looking 1-4 months before your trip. The two major airports in Peru are located in Lima and Cusco.
The meeting point for all our Machu Picchu treks is in Cusco, a city of more than 400,000 people. Our guests on the Cordillera trips have the option to be picked up and dropped off in Huaraz, Peru (at the bus station or your accommodations) or the Comandante FAP Germán Arias Graziani Airport (Airport code ATA), in the village of Anta, Peru. You will need to arrange transport to and from both of these locations.
Vaccinations and Medication
Please note that a Yellow Fever vaccination is usually required for Peru. You will need to check the latest information after booking your trip, but you may be asked to show proof of vaccination before boarding your plane. Malaria pills are also highly recommended for anyone hiking to Machu Picchu. It’s a good idea to visit your doctor and get all your travel vaccinations at least four weeks before traveling.
Other optional, but recommended, vaccinations include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, and influenza. Several of these are spread through contact with dirty water, which you may encounter while traveling in remote parts of Peru. Finally, the CDC always recommends that you stay up to date on all routine vaccinations before any international trip.
Please bring any medications (including those for altitude sickness) that you think you may need, including over-the-counter ones, such as Ibuprofen.
Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.
For more information about all your options, check out our Peru page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.